A star is born
Drama student Devon Johnson is reveling in his new slimline role, after Food Optimising his way to a fantastic 5 stone* weight loss. Devon shares his inspiring journey with us…
“My weight problems started when I was quite young - I comfort ate a lot after my mum died of a lung-related condition. I felt so self-conscious about my weight that I even faked notes to get out of PE classes. My family are food lovers and Jamaican fare generally involves a lot of oil – in particular my favourite salt fish and banana dish! Mum used to tell me when she thought I’d had enough, but Dad is much more easy-going in that respect so I was pretty much eating whatever and whenever I wanted.
“My dream is to work in the entertainment industry so a couple of years ago I auditioned for The X Factor. I didn’t get anywhere, though. I realise my voice simply might not have been up to it, but I couldn’t help thinking my complete lack of confidence didn’t help, as I couldn’t even make eye contact.
“I began putting on more and more weight and soon my clothes didn’t fit. I’d get terrible indigestion, like a heavy weight on my chest, and often feel quite sick, too.
“When I began a BTEC in performing arts I soon found that all the male students were tall and slim, except me. When I took part in the dance classes I’d be sweating and gasping for breath just minutes into the warm-up. I felt like an old man rather than a 17 year old.
“I tried soups, milkshakes, the orange juice diet and even a maple syrup concoction to try and lose weight… everything left me hungry, grumpy and lethargic. My sister, Davina, wasn’t happy about her size either, and she suggested we go to Slimming World together.
“My first visit to a Slimming World group was a bit of a disaster -all I could think about were my jeans, which decided to split as I sat down. For the whole meeting, I worried about having to stand up again and waited until everyone else had gone before I eventually left – walking backwards! The following week, I went back (wearing a new pair of jeans), only to discover I’d actually put on a pound. I was convinced that I was wasting my time, then my Consultant looked at the food diary I’d kept and mentioned a few areas where I’d been guessing at the plan. I re-read the Food Optimising book and stuck to it that week. When I went back to group I wouldn’t look at the scales this time. I only looked down when I was told I’d lost 9lb - I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t felt hungry, grumpy or exhausted, unlike every other time I’ve tried to lose weight.
“I’d tuck into Weetabix for breakfast, and a sandwich and lots of fruit during the day. I enjoyed roast chicken at night, served with loads of veg and the skin removed, or cooked in a tomato sauce.
“The dance classes at college started getting easier so I decided to try to increase my fitness levels by taking up running – it was an effort at first, but then I found I actually got into it and my weight loss sped up massively.
“By the time I reached my target, with a 5 stone weight loss, I no longer suffered from indigestion, even after eating late at night, which used to be common for me. I love the fact that Food Optimising doesn’t dictate either what to eat or when to eat it.
“I’ve got so much more confidence now and my energy levels are soaring. Now I’m at Brunel University studying drama, film and TV, and absolutely love it. Nobody here knows I was overweight! My new course doesn’t have a dancing element to it, but I do a street dance class as a hobby now and was even asked to choreograph a recent college show. I wouldn’t rule out auditioning for The X Factor again – and this time, whatever they think of my voice, at least I’ll be able to look them in the eye.
“There’s no way of putting it that doesn’t sound cheesy, but I feel I’m the me I was always meant to be. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, and as an aspiring actor, that can only be a good thing!”
*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.