King of the hills

King of the hills

At more than 23st, 51-year-old Karl Rowe, from Killingworth, Newcastle, conquered the bike rides that once defeated him by losing a huge 7st 12lbs*.

Killingworth to Newcastle town centre, June 2011, 19st 3lbs

“I pushed down my foot on the pedal of my bike and slowly set off to work. Already I was starting to pant and I hadn’t even got to the end of the road. Part of me wanted to get off and take the car to work like I usually did. All the while, though, my doctor’s words were ringing in my head: losing weight could help to avoid complications with your Type 2 diabetes. I told myself that I loved food too much to go on a diet – it’d have to be exercise instead.

“I joined a cycling club. As the months passed, it got easier, though I didn’t seem to be getting any slimmer.

Land’s End to John o’Groats, June 2014, 19st 8lbs

‘”Well done, Karl!” I heard my wife Sheila say as I finished a 10-day cycle, covering over 100 miles a day. I felt euphoric to have completed it. After the event, I weighed myself and I’d only lost 7lbs. That’s when it dawned on me that exercise alone wasn’t going to shift my weight. I’d have to change the way I ate. One of the lads at work had lost weight with Slimming World although I didn’t think it would be for me.

Newcastle town centre to Killingworth, January 2016, 23st 2lbs

“I joined Rachel’s group in Killingworth, not knowing what to expect. With Food Optimising, she explained, you don’t need to cut anything out. I felt so empowered that even when the scales showed my weight had gone up to 23st 2lbs, I wasn’t deterred. I went shopping, and then cooked one of my usual dinners, spaghetti bolognese, just cooked differently using lean mince beef and low calorie cooking spray instead of oil. 

In my first week I lost 7½lbs! I’d lost the same amount in seven days with Slimming World as I had when I’d cycled around 1,000 miles all the way from Land’s End to John o’Groats. I couldn’t believe it!

Karl Rowe

The Ryals cycle route, May 2016, 18st 1½ lbs

“I couldn’t wait to go to group each week. We became like a little family, sharing tips, recipes and snack ideas. Cycling was getting easier and easier. I’d had 13 previous attempts at biking The Ryals – a set of hills in Northumberland. This time I wasn’t going to fail – it was an effort but I completed it all in one go.

Coast-to-coast cycle, summer 2016, 16st 8lbs

“I kept going to group and reached my target of 15st in 10 months. My wife has even lost 4st just by eating Food Optimised meals. As for the cycling, I’m conquering ever-steeper climbs. Whenever I scale a new peak on my bike, I feel I can achieve anything!”

Karl’s day on a plate


Breakfast – Two bacon and sausage sandwiches and a mug of tea

Snacks - Four takeaway sausage rolls

Lunch – Reheated leftover pasta in a creamy sauce from the night before

Dinner – Spaghetti Bolognese with lots of grated cheese, or a Chinese or Indian takeaway, plus rhubarb crumble for dessert


Breakfast – Overnight oats made with Healthy Extra porridge oats, fat-free natural yogurt and berries

Snacks – Apple or orange

Lunch – Reheated leftover spaghetti bolognese or curry from the night before

Dinner – Barbecue chicken with butternut squash mash and veg, or bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato chips and salad.


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

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