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
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.