My health problems began when I caught pneumonia in 2012. It took me over seven months to beat, and it was a really tough time for me and my family. I was left with an irregular heartbeat and had to take daily medication. I had type 2 diabetes, too. As a self-employed gardener, it was crucial that I could be active, but once my health worsened, I couldn’t exercise and could hardly walk. I'd be exhausted by lunchtime, so I had to switch to working part-time.

I’d struggled with my weight for most of my life, but over recent years it had spiralled out of control – and the heavier I got, the more I felt it wouldn’t be possible to lose it.

The final straw was taking a flight to Ireland, when I realised that the seatbelt wasn’t going to go around my middle. We’d paid extra to sit in the emergency exit aisle so we’d have more legroom, but the cabin crew explained that you couldn’t sit there if you needed an extension belt. I had to find another seat – and everyone was looking to see what the fuss was about. It was so embarrassing.

When we got home, Gail suggested we join Slimming World together. I was hesitant about going, especially as a man, but I shouldn’t have been worried. I received a huge warm welcome and my Consultant, Ali, greeted us with open arms.

I was worried that other group members would find out what I weighed, but it was completely private. It just stays between you and your Consultant.

I went home and read the books carefully before I started Food Optimising plan. Once I got going, I was surprised at how much I was eating – pasta salads, roast dinners, eggs, crisps – all of my favourites. I weighed in on my first week with a 14½lbs loss! 

Losing so much in my first week made me believe I could go the whole way. My group were like a second family – they were so supportive and inspiring. We swapped recipes and talked about how our week had been. Everyone just wanted to help one another.

I lost 12st in 13 months, and now I’ve hit my target weight of 13st 7lbs. I’ve swapped my 5XL shirts for mediums. I was recently crowned Slimming World’s Man of the Year 2017, which was amazing. I couldn’t be happier.

As I’ve lost weight, my fitness has improved – I joined a gym and have taken up swimming. I never had the confidence to take my shirt off before! I also love riding my bike, and I’ve gone back to working full time again. Best of all, my grandsons have an active grandad who’ll be around to see them grow up. 

Since hitting my target weight, my heart specialist has been so pleased with me. I’ve extended my life by 20 years – now I just have to convince my wife that having me around for another two decades is a good thing!

Tony’s day on a plate

Before:

Breakfast: A big bowl of cereal and milk, 2-3 slices of toast with butter and marmalade of jam.

Lunch: A pasty or half a packet of biscuits.

Dinner: Pie, roast potatoes cooked in butter or oil, and peas.

Snacks: Crisps, more biscuits, cheese and crackers, pints of beer or lager.

After:

Breakfast: Bran cereal with milk, 2 boiled eggs and bowl of fresh fruit, such as melon and strawberries.

Lunch: Pasta salad, followed by a few pieces of fruit.

Dinner: Chicken and roast potatoes cooked in low-calorie cooking spray, with vegetables.

Snacks: Fresh fruit, Hi-fi bars, sugar-free jelly and Snack-a-Jacks.

 

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.