I started to put on weight in my 30s – just a few stones here and there, so I always thought I could lose it. I never did, though. Then, when my father died suddenly, I was devastated and found myself comfort eating to deal with it. My weight got out of control, and eventually I’d stopped getting on the scales because it made me feel so depressed.
Life at 24st felt like a struggle. Everyday tasks left me with no energy, and I’d get out of breath just walking upstairs at home.
My job as a lorry driver became more and more difficult. Although a lot of my time was spent driving and being sedentary, I did have to be there for loading and unloading, too. My weight meant I wasn’t very agile, so often someone with a forklift would help me up to the back of the trailers because I couldn’t get up there myself. It was really embarrassing, and whenever that happened I’d just want the day to be over.
A wake-up call
I’d been suffering from terrible migraines, so I went to my doctor, who suggested they were caused by my dangerously high blood pressure and that my weight was probably a factor. He also warned me that I was at high risk of a heart attack or stroke, which really worried me.
Around that time, I travelled abroad. At the airport, I was randomly stopped at customs, which meant I ended up being one of the last to board the plane. My seat was right at the front, and when I sat down I realised I couldn’t fasten my seatbelt because it wouldn’t fit around me properly. The flight attendant announced loudly that she’d get me an extender, and then I had to stand up in front of all the other passengers while it was fitted.
Enough was enough. I vowed to myself that I’d do something about my weight.
When I got back home, I started researching ways to lose weight: everything from surgery to diet pills. Something about Slimming World really appealed, though – probably that I could still enjoy everyday foods.
I was really nervous about attending my first group session – although it seems strange to say that now, because it’s such a big part of my life. I was greeted by my Consultant, Clare, who’s the biggest bundle of fun you could ever hope to meet, and I knew at that moment I’d made the right decision.
I soon got to grips with the plan and eating meals like chicken curry and steak and chips – losing weight all the way. Before joining Slimming World, I’d rely on microwave meals or takeaways. After I started Food Optimising, I became much more adventurous in the kitchen, and enjoyed trying out different recipes and putting my own twist on things.
Travelling all the time in my job used to mean lots of fast food and snacking, but eating healthily while I was on the road wasn’t a problem. I learned all about the best choices to make and soon had the confidence to ask for things to be cooked in a certain way – like grilling meats without oil. It must have worked, because the results soon started to speak for themselves!
The group environment really helped me, because for the first time I was surrounded by people who knew how it felt to struggle with their weight. Checking in with everyone each week was invaluable, and I learned so much from them. I’ve been attending the group virtually during lockdown, which helps keep me on track, but I can’t wait to be back together with my group.
Falling for fitness
I used to love the outdoors, but as I gained more and more weight, it felt like the world had become smaller and I started to dread any form of activity.
At group, Clare talked me through Body Magic and explained that I just needed to start slow and steady and build up from there. I began by walking around my local park for 20 minutes at a time. I gradually increased the distance and, after a few weeks, decided to search for different and more challenging places to walk. The Body Magic awards started coming in and, before I knew it, my way of thinking had completely turned around. I’d look forward to exercise and set myself different challenges every week. I even reached the point where I’d think nothing of spending the day walking around the Brecon Beacons. Now I’m hoping to take part in a 12-day trek through the Himalayas to visit Everest Base Camp!
It’s amazing to think that the world is a big place again now, full of opportunities.
Since losing weight, everything has improved. My blood pressure is in the normal range and I don't get migraines any more. The back and joint pain has just gone away, I sleep much better through the night (which in turn gives me much more energy during the day), and I no longer get out of breath going upstairs.
Earlier in the year, I went on a trip to Italy and had no problem fastening my seatbelt on the plane! One of the highlights of my visit was trying water skiing for the first time. Before I started my Slimming World journey, I’d never have done it, but there I was, bobbing about in the water. It was a fabulous experience and I loved every second.
And, of course, I’m much more comfortable at work these days and can often be found hopping from trailer to trailer, no assistance needed!
Lots of people have said I’m more approachable now, too, which I think is down to my new outlook. I feel I’m enjoying life rather than just drifting through it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Slimming World has completely changed my life – it’s certainly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Jason’s day on a plate
Coffee and biscuits, followed by chocolate and crisps throughout the morning.
A bowl of chopped fresh fruit.
Two pasties and two sausage rolls, followed by more crisps.
A ham salad sandwich, followed by more fruit.
A microwave meal, or something deep-fried from the fish and chip shop.
A baked potato with chicken and lots of vegetables, or a home-made chicken tikka masala with rice and green beans.
Crisps, chocolate, biscuits.
You can watch Jason talk about his incredible weight loss here...
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.