How David did it!
At over 17st, 41-year-old David Robbins from Eastbourne, East Sussex worried he was destined to be overweight forever. Then he found a new way of eating, and went on to lose a liberating 6st. He's 5ft 10ins and it took him 11 months to reach target.
"Growing up, I was always big. I’d tell myself it didn’t bother me, though when I look back now, I realise it really did. At secondary school, I’d buy a chocolate bar during break time and snack on crisps when I got home. Then, when I was studying for my degree, I threw myself into the social side of university, and often found myself eating kebabs and burgers on the way back from a boozy night out.
"I first joined a weight-loss club when I was 18. Although I lost weight, I didn’t learn how to eat healthily. As soon as I tried to eat normally again, I piled the weight back on – and more. The same thing happened again and again over the following years – meal-replacement shakes, cutting out food groups, counting calories… trust me, I tried them all. Yes, I’d lose weight for the short time I could actually stick to the plan – when I gave up, though, because it was too difficult or I was tired of feeling hungry, I just went back to my old eating habits.
"I was so aware of the way I looked, I subconsciously developed various methods to disguise my growing size. I used to swim regularly, but I gave that up so no one would see me with my top off. I stood behind everyone else in photographs, so you could only see my face. And when I went out with friends, I always chose the chair at the end of the table, so I could easily stand and make room if anyone needed to squeeze past.
"Sadly, these strategies couldn’t save me from experiencing more and more embarrassing moments. Customers at work would ask to see the ‘big manager’ and when I went to Disneyland Paris it took two members of staff to push down the safety barrier on one of the rides. The worst moment was when I went to a friend’s wedding in December 2014. I was an XXL and had a 38ins waist, so shopping was always difficult, and it had taken me ages to track down a nice waistcoat for the occasion. I felt really smart when I put it on, then on the way to the ceremony, all the buttons burst off. I was mortified. And I felt even worse when I saw the video of a surprise ‘flash mob’ that we performed at the reception. I couldn’t believe how big I looked."
"While I’d heard of Slimming World, I’d never thought about joining until my friend, Jo, suggested it. I’d tried everything else, so I thought I may as well. I can’t say I was very hopeful, though – after all, nothing else had worked in the long-term.
"On our first evening in January 2015, Jo and I joined the other new members for a chat with the Consultant, Jackie. I quickly realised it was going to be different to any weight-loss plan I’d done before. I’d be learning about nutrition, too. I was so focused on absorbing everything she was saying that it came as a bit of a jolt when it was time to get weighed. Nerves set in, and when I stood on the scales, it was worse than I’d feared: 17st 9lbs.
"That night, I read my Food Optimising pack properly and, like Jackie had suggested, made a meal plan for the next seven days, writing a list of everything I needed. My first week was great. I had huge breakfasts of scrambled eggs, lean bacon medallions, plum tomatoes, mushrooms, and even wholemeal toast on the side (a real surprise; bread was always the first thing I’d had to cut out when I’d tried to lose weight before). Then, because I was so full, I’d have a smaller lunch of salad or soup, followed by a Free yogurt with berries or other fruit.
One of the best things about Slimming World is that it made me realise just how much I love cooking. I bought the magazine for recipe inspiration, and every evening I’d make something different.
"I’d have a chilli, or chicken wrapped in bacon, or spaghetti Bolognese. Soon, I was experimenting and altering recipes to create my own versions, and that gave me even greater satisfaction.
"In my first week, I lost 9½lbs. While I was delighted, I also knew from my years of yo-yo dieting that you can often lose a lot at the start. So I was actually more excited about the 3½lbs I lost in my second week – and the fact that within three weeks, I’d lost a whole stone!
"I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I’d been concerned that I’d have to stop going out with my friends – even that was simpler than I thought. If they were going to the pub, I’d have a couple of gin and diet tonics, then move onto soft drinks. And if the plan was to go out for dinner, I’d just check out the menu online beforehand so I had plenty of time to decide what to have. Most places had loads of healthy choices, like melon and ham to start, and tuna steaks with delicious salads. And I could make the meals even healthier with a few adjustments – such as having two courses, rather than three and asking for sauces on the side. At first, I felt awkward asking for a jacket potato or salad instead of chips – that soon wore off, though, when I realised how supportive everyone was. The landlord of my local pub even bought in low-fat dressings specially for me.
"I’d lost about 3½st by May 2015, when I was once again a guest at a wedding. And once again, we performed a surprise group dance. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was this time... or how many compliments I received! I’d found it hard to judge how the weight was coming off – every time I looked in the mirror, I just saw me – so the fact my friends noticed really encouraged me to keep going."
"When I began losing weight, it was all about being happier with the way I looked. I had no idea it would change other aspects of my life. I’d always believed I’d be a constant yo-yo dieter; able to lose a few pounds for a special event, but ultimately destined to be overweight.
Now, I’ve not only lost 6st, I’ve kept it off – something I never thought I’d be able to do. Being healthy has become part of everyday life – I hardly even think about it.
"I went on a two-week holiday to Japan recently and, despite eating out every day, I only put on 2lbs. I didn’t feel I was missing out on the local cuisine, either. I just knew which choices would be Food Optimising-friendly. I also walked a lot, sometimes well over 10 miles in a day.
"I still go to group every week. Not only does it keep me motivated and focused, it also gives me new ideas for recipes and keeps me in touch with like-minded people. I’m on Jackie’s social team and I love being part of the Slimming World community – we often go out for a coffee to discuss how our weeks have been, and to swap advice.
"I’ve started swimming again, too. A friend had signed up as a member of the local pool and suggested we go together. I was still concerned about how I would feel, so I just paid per visit to start with. Now, I’m going three mornings a week and I feel great – so much more awake and full of energy when I get to work. I’m going to join as a full member as soon as I can.
"Before I lost weight, I barely thought about clothes and never went shopping unless I really had to – it was just too embarrassing. I had a single pair of jeans and a few shirts I’d picked up because they fitted me, not because I liked them. These days I can go into any shop I want and choose freely. People have even stopped me in the street to ask where I got my outfit from!
"While I’ve always thought of myself as pretty confident, I’m so much more comfortable in my skin now. I’m happier at work because of my extra energy, and when I go out, I’m no longer worried about walking into a bar and having people stare at me because of my size. I’m not just the big bloke in the corner. And that’s the best feeling in the world."
*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.