I lost weight and mended my marriage
When security engineer Dave Hudson from Wallsend, Tyne and Wear lost 12st* and started to overhaul his health, it set him on the path to a happier future back with the woman he loves.
It’s my 18th birthday and I’m celebrating with a few drinks. As usual, I’m home by 10pm – I like feeling healthy too much to overindulge. I’m one of those lucky people who never has to worry about weight. It’s more a case of ensuring I eat enough to fuel my 6ft 7ins frame. My mates call me Rodney Trotter, as I’m tall, lanky and a regular at the local athletics club where I specialise in the 100m sprint.
I’ve put on a bit of weight – nothing too obvious, just a bit extra around my stomach. I work in the home security industry, installing cameras and alarms. Emergency call-outs sometimes mean I’m working in the middle of the night, when I find myself eating pizza or takeaway Chinese. My job is fairly physical, but I’ve given up athletics, so I’m not as active as I used to be.
I’m married! I’ve known Alison since I was 18, though we were just friends then as she was married with two boys. Then, when we were in our late 20s, she got divorced and we fell in love. I’m now 4st heavier than when we met. I find myself thinking about food a lot. It’s something to look forward to after a busy day, or when I’m feeling stressed about Mum. She survived breast cancer a few years ago and has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Mum’s health has declined dramatically and she’s been in and out of hospital. The other day I had a phone call to say she might not last the night. My heart was in my mouth as I raced to see her, but somehow she pulled through and seems to be responding to treatment. I’m definitely using food and alcohol to blot it all out. I can easily get through a 16ins bolognese pizza all by myself. I also drink a litre bottle of vodka every weekend.
Despite having terminal cancer, Mum’s worried about my health. It’s getting difficult to move around now and my GP has warned me I’m on the borderline of Type 2 diabetes with high blood pressure and cholesterol. I join a local slimming club, though I find the diet is restrictive. After a couple of weeks I’ve lost a stone, but I’m permanently hungry.
Alison and I fly to Majorca for a much-needed break. Despite my recent weight loss, I need an extender seatbelt. I’m sure some of the other passengers whisper and snigger. To make things worse, my thighs are so wedged in that they press on the recliner button, so the poor bloke behind me has no space. I’m really embarrassed and when we finally land, all I can think of is that I have to do it all over again to get home. On the return journey, though, I have other things on my mind: just before the end of our trip, we get news that Mum has passed away.
I’m not even trying to lose weight any more. Since Mum died, I’ve developed a £100-a-week takeaway habit and reckon I’m stuck in a cycle. I feel miserable, so I cheer myself up by eating junk food, which makes me feel even more overweight and miserable, so I cheer myself up with… junk food. I hardly spend any time with Alison and intimate moments are few and far between. We’re like ships that pass in the night. One ship (me) eating pizza in front of the computer; the other (her) watching telly downstairs.
Alison’s left me. She says she can’t watch me self-destruct. At first, I don’t know how I’ll cope – I just sit around eating myself up to my heaviest weight ever. I’m not even sure how to look after myself – Alison used to do most of the cooking and cleaning. Slowly it dawns on me I have a choice: I can continue living in a mess, or I can get on with life. I begin to take better care of myself, give up junk food and join the gym. I miss Alison desperately, but find I also enjoy being self-sufficient – I’m so proud of my first plate of beans on toast! I soon graduate to pasta with sauce and curry, and my self-esteem improves even more. Perhaps Alison leaving was the push I needed…
I’ve managed to lose a bit of weight just by giving up takeaways and doing my own cooking, although I’m not confident I’ll keep it off. I start to come out of my shell a little and to venture out to the pub with friends. I even have a girlfriend for a while. I never lose touch with Alison, though. We rediscover the friendship we once had in the years before our marriage when we go to the cinema, or chat over Sunday lunch.
Alison and I are getting back together! It’s the best Valentine’s present I could dream of. She says she can see that the man she fell in love with is back. I feel so much happier and more confident with Alison by my side. We’re taking it slow, going on dates and falling in love all over again. And when something is bothering me, instead of pretending I’m fine then gorging on pizza, I talk to Alison. I feel like I’m laying the foundations for a healthy body and mind.
Shortly after Alison moves back, I bump into an old friend called Lee. I almost fail to recognise him – he’s lost 6st. I tell him I’m considering a gastric bypass because I’ve never been able to stick to a diet. Lee tells me how he lost weight with Slimming World and still eats big meals – he just makes healthier choices. When the doctor warns me that going ahead with the surgery means I’ll never be able to eat normally again, I wonder if Slimming World might work for me, too.
I’ve finally joined Slimming World. First I researched Food Optimising online, then my curiosity about the support I’d get from a group overcame my fears that I’d be the only man. In fact, there were far more men than I’d expected. And within five minutes it didn’t matter anyway, because it was clear to me that everyone – young, old, male, female – had exactly the same thing in common. We all wanted to lose weight.
I’ve lost more than 3st! It’s as if a switch flicked and now I crave healthy food instead of junk. Breakfast used to be a mid-morning pasty or two. Now it’s porridge with chopped fresh fruit or a four-egg omelette, and lunch is home-made chicken pasta with fruit. Back in the day, I’d have curry with chips, then pizza for dinner. Now I’m choosing from Slimming World’s Fakeaways recipe book – it’s full of my favourites, just with none of the unhealthy stuff. I’ve also found a recipe for Slimming World onion bhajis in the Curry Heaven book! You don’t have to give up anything. Kerry, my Consultant, is proud of me and so are my fellow members. Even if they do moan about me being Slimmer of the Week so often!
I’m getting great weight losses and I’m sure Body Magic is helping. Before joining Slimming World, I used to kid myself that I was active because my job involved climbing a few ladders. But after half an hour playing with my grandson, Malachi, I’d be exhausted. On my second week at group, I went to the gym – I lasted just three minutes on the crosstrainer and almost collapsed. I persevered, though, dropping in each day and gradually building up the time. Now I’m lifting weights. After lacking any kind of motivation for so long, I’m revelling in the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a 5km run. Rodney Trotter is back!
The scales tell me I’m 12 stones lighter and I can’t quite believe it – though my Slimming World group is cheering and I’ve a 32ins waist! I even do a double-take when I see myself on a CCTV recording I’m testing for a customer – I think the slim bloke is a would-be burglar! The biggest change in me isn’t visible on screen. It’s happened inside. Alison, who’s lost 2st 7lbs and is also a target member, says I’ve turned back into the man she first met: happy, good-looking, confident and athletic. She’s not the only one who’s impressed – my doctor says I’m as fit as a 20-yearold, and I’ve just been offered a new job with management responsibilities and prospects.
I put on 8lbs over Christmas. For a couple of days I eat everything I used to. And guess what? It doesn’t even taste good any more. I get back on the plan and the weight comes off within a few weeks. I’ve got so much to look forward to now: a new job; a course in September so I can sideline as a personal trainer, and… a trip on a plane. We’re off to a wedding in Turkey this summer and I can’t wait to fasten my seatbelt. I think then it’ll finally hit me that I’m slim.
Alison and I can’t believe how much our relationship has improved and it seems our friends agree: we’ve been voted our group’s Couple of the Year and I’m taking Alison out for a romantic meal to celebrate. We were married, we lived apart… now we’ve fallen in love all over again and I couldn’t be happier.
*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.