At more than 28st, 43-year-old Andy Turner from Horsham, West Sussex could see his skateboarding skills deteriorating at high speed. Now 13st 3½lbs* lighter, he’s on top of his game at work, at home and at the skatepark.
"Thinking back, I could pinpoint the moment I lost my confidence. I’d come off my skateboard and snapped my ankle. It had been agony, not to mention embarrassing. The two female paramedics who’d attended the scene needed to call for backup to carry me to the ambulance.
"As a teenager, I’d just assumed I had a big build. It never stopped me from being active, whether I was skateboarding or playing football. I’d got used to the many nicknames about my size.
"The final straw came when I couldn't go on a rollercoaster with my daughter, Daisy, because I was too big for the seat. I felt so disappointed with myself, and it must have been obvious because afterwards Daisy came up to me and gave me a hug. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said. ‘We’ll get to go on it another time.’
"The truth was that I was always letting her down like this. I couldn’t go cycling for very long with her or even play tag. I realised if I didn’t do something about my health, then I might not be around for her in the future at all.
"I knew about Slimming World because my mum and sister had been members over the years and it had worked for them. I wasn’t convinced it was for me, though – surely it was more for women? My wife, Natalie, sat me down and said: ‘You’re not managing to lose weight by yourself. Why don’t you give group a go?’.
"So I did. I felt nervous at first, until the Consultant, Claire, welcomed me and introduced me to the other members, who were very friendly. Then came the weigh-in. I hadn’t stepped on a set of scales in years and the figure of 28st 9lbs seemed impossibly high.
On the right track
"Claire explained Food Optimising and it sounded pretty doable. I stocked up on vegetables and lean meat, and prepared food to take into work, such as chicken salad or a hearty home-made soup. And instead of my usual snacks, I had strawberries.
"I’d been enjoying my food so much that when I returned to group the next week, I didn’t think I’d have lost anything. When I did step on the scales, I had to do a double take. I’d lost a whole stone in one week!
It wasn’t a case of restricting my portions; it was what I was actually eating that mattered.
"I loved spending time in the kitchen, creating healthy versions of my favourite foods. On takeaway nights at work, I’d bring in my Free curry and rice to enjoy while my colleagues had their takeaway curries – and I genuinely thought mine was better!
"My progress varied from week to week. Sometimes I’d lose 4-5lbs, other times 1-2lbs, but I was always heading in the right direction.
"As the weeks went by, I realised going to group was a vital part of the process. Everyone was so friendly and they’d share recipe ideas and tips. My group loved my version of ‘chicken pizza’ – topped with tomatoes, garlic, oregano, chopped onions, bacon with any visible fat cut off and my Healthy Extra of reduced-fat mozzarella. It became known as ‘Andy’s pizza’!
Coming out on top
"It didn’t take long before family, friends and colleagues started to notice my weight loss. Within six months I weighed less than 20st and I eventually decided to set my target at 15st 4lbs, which I reached a year after joining.
"Before Slimming World, I’d only been skateboarding every three weeks. Now, I had the confidence to do it more often. And as it counts as Body Magic, along with the walking and cycling I do. I started signing up for slalom racing again and got myself back into the UK rankings. After one race, where I came in the top three, I had to dash off and change into a suit to pick up my award as a finalist in Slimming World’s Man of the Year competition – that was quite a day!
"My confidence has shot up in other areas, too. Now I'm able to buy clothes in regular shops and I walk down the street with my head held high, not feeling self-conscious or wondering if people are staring. I reckon it’s the reason why I sailed through an interview for a promotion at work recently.
One of the biggest changes is that I’m a much more active dad now. When we go out on our bikes, I can cycle for miles – and I never get tired when I’m walking around.
"Recently, we went back to Chessington World of Adventures and this time I had no trouble getting on the rollercoaster. I sat beside Daisy and we yelled our way through the ride. Afterwards, she gave me a big hug. ‘Thanks, Dad,’ she said. ‘You’ve made my day.’ I couldn’t have felt prouder.
"I can’t imagine ever going back to my old habits. Because I know that every day I spend on plan, staying healthy and keeping fit, I’m increasing my chances of a long life sharing many good times with my family. That, for me, is the ultimate reward."
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.