I'm taking centre stage
Martin Woodsford from Barry, South Wales, has won theatre roles and been mistaken for actor and singer John Barrowman since losing 9st 2lbs*. And now the 43-year-old is taking another leading role after being named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2016.
“At my heaviest I suffered a string of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sciatica and severe back pain, which left me fearing I wouldn’t be around to see my four beautiful children grow up.
“My weight problems began after an abusive childhood and I fluctuated in size throughout my teens, 20s and early 30s. When my daughter Rosie was born I was fine, however, it was after my triplets – Harvey, Maisie and Maxwell – were born in 2008 that I saw my weight increase dramatically. They were born three months premature and suffered varying degrees of health problems. It was a very difficult time and I practically lived at the hospital, so my eating habits suffered badly.
“Because of all of my health issues I was a regular visitor in the hospital, too. I was in a bad way and I started to genuinely worry that I was going to die. I was so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to leave the house, and I had no energy to do anything so I’d just sit on the sofa and eat junk food every night. It was a vicious cycle.
“However, in 2012 that all changed. I woke up one morning and something just clicked. I thought about the way the triplets had fought for their lives and I knew it was time for me to start fighting for me. I didn’t want to leave any of my children without a father.
My GP had previously recommended Slimming World and a few friends had been members, so I decided to give it a try.
"I was shy and embarrassed when I first when to group, I sat at the back and didn’t speak to anyone to start with. Within two weeks though it was completely different, I was up at the front and having fun with the rest of the group. It was a really easy transition to make because everyone made me so welcome and I soon realised we were all in the same boat.
“Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan was a world away from the restrictive diets and quick-fixes – including diet pills – I’d tried before. I swapped my junk food dinners for healthy home-cooked meals, my favourites include a massive Free Food-packed omelette and chips or chicken tikka masala with boiled rice, and found I could still enjoy treats too.
What I love about Food Optimising is that it’s not a diet, it’s completely sustainable and nothing is off limits. My partner and children all eat all the same meals when we’re together, and I still have a takeaway most weeks. I’m a chocoholic too and I can have a little bit of chocolate every day – what’s not to love?”
“As well as changing my eating habits, I increased my fitness levels. I started by walking for around 15 minutes each day and slowly increased how much I was doing. I also joined a gym with my partner, Neil, and even signed up to jazz and tap dance classes.
“Losing 9st 2lbs has improved my health dramatically – I no longer have any diabetes symptoms and I don't need medication for any of my previous complaints, I’ve got a whole new wardrobe, and I've had the confidence to take and pass my driving test.
“I feel like a completely different person. I used to struggle to keep up with the children but now I’m the one tiring them out, and I’ve started performing again too. When I was bigger I used to always play the comedic roles and hide behind my jolly persona but inside I felt ashamed at how big I’d let myself become, now I’ve won a few leading man roles and I love being on the stage again.
I’ve even been mistaken for John Barrowman a few times which is incredible because he’s one of my idols and I’ve love to meet and sing with him one day.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard I’d been named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek. While I’ve still got a little way to go – I’d like to lose another stone or so – it makes me realise how far I’ve come. I know I’ll never go back to the old Martin and I truly believe that if I can do this, absolutely anyone can! ”
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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