Derek's half the man he was!

Derek's half the man he was!

54-year-old Derek has lost more than half his body weight after suffering three devastating embarrassments because of his size – all in the same day. He was diagnosed with diabetes, told by his employers that they feared he wasn’t fit enough to do his job, and received cruel abuse from two sets of strangers in the street within the life-changing 24 hours. 

The three consecutive incidents spurred him into losing 17st 9½lbs* and now Derek has been named Slimming World Man of the Year 2015.

“I remember being put on a diet by my doctor when I was eight. I then piled on more weight when I lost my parents and then again when I was jobless for 11 months. At my biggest I struggled to walk even short distances and needed medication for high blood pressure. I felt ashamed that I'd effectively disabled myself. I got taxis everywhere because I couldn’t even walk to the bus stop.

"The turning point came in June 2014. I had an appointment at my doctors where I was told I had diabetes. Then I arrived at work to be surprised with a meeting in which I was informed that there were real concerns about my ability to do my job, which involves getting out and about with the people our charity supports. Finally on the way home, two separate gangs of lads shouted horrible abuse at me from passing cars. I cried when I got home and the tears stung, but looking back it was the perfect storm because had those things happened on different days they might not have prompted me to take action in the same way. I call that day ‘Fateful Thursday’ now.

“The nurse at my GP surgery and my sister-in-law both recommended Slimming World as they knew people who’d had great results, so I decided to join my local group. I was very apprehensive as I didn’t think there would be very many men in the group. The welcome I received soon put paid to my worries though, and I found nothing but encouragement and warmth.

I genuinely enjoy going to Slimming World every Saturday morning – we have fabulous fun – and I’ve made such good friends. 

“What really appealed to me about Slimming World was the sustainability and that I didn’t have to restrict myself. I’d tried losing weight following meal-replacement diets before but as soon as I stopped I piled all the weight back on, and I missed cooking because I love being in the kitchen. Now I cook meals like chicken tikka masala with rice or homemade lasagne for myself and my partner, Graham, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt hungry or deprived. I enjoy massive veg-packed omelettes for breakfast and take a big smoked salmon and potato salad to work. Instead of snacking on big sharing bags of crisps, I munch on fruit, veg sticks, fat free yogurts, and enjoy a glass of wine or a chocolate bar in the evening. 

The biggest change for me was my outlook on myself, my weight and my food choices, I never say I’ve been ‘good’ or ‘bad’, because I know feeling guilty is counterproductive and will just send me to comfort eating.

“In 12 months I've lost 17st 9½lbs and gone from wearing a 7XL t-shirts to a clothing size L. My health and fitness have improved – my blood pressure is lower, I'm free from any risk of diabetes and I love walking and swimming. My mood and sleeping have improved, too. When I first joined Slimming World it took me 25 minutes to walk to the group, now it takes me two! 

"And my bank balance is much healthier, too, since I stopped needing to take taxis everywhere – I've used the money I've saved to pay for a weekend away in Edinburgh with Graham. We walked all around the city and it was fantastic. I seriously thought I would die young and now I plan to live a very long and active life.

“When I walked into Slimming World there was no judgment or discrimination. The understanding and kindness I was shown helped me to start to be kinder to myself and gave me the confidence and self-belief to make the changes that I have. No one is more surprised than me at everything that I’ve achieved in the past year and I think that if I can do this, anyone can – with a bit of support, of course.”

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

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