A healthier heart for Michael
Michael Thompson-Irwin suffered multiple heart attacks and his survival chances were slim. Now he’s lost 5st 6lb and is looking forward to a bright future. Michael shares his story with us.
“Until I turned 18, left home and discovered fast food, I didn’t really think about my weight. Once I was fending for myself, however, all the burgers, pies and chips I ate meant my slim figure was soon a thing of the past, and by the time I met my partner Gareth, in 2007, I’d put on about 2 stones.
“Compared to me, my brother, Stephen, was slim and super-fit. Then, one day in 2007, he suddenly collapsed and died. He was only 34 and hadn’t even been ill. Several members of my close family had died young and it looked like my brother was another victim of this genetic heart condition.
“That, along with my bad eating habits lead to me to having heart attack at just 26 years old. Within the next 24 hours I suffered three more heart attacks. The pain was agonising. The doctors discovered I had Brugada syndrome, a rare heart disease, and I was fitted with an internal defibrillator. I wasn’t even 30 and I was so overweight and inactive, with type 2 diabetes and such high cholesterol, that even with the best medication and equipment money could buy, my chances of surviving another heart attack were slim.
“If ever there was a time to start tackling my weight problem, surely this was it. ‘I’ll go to Slimming World,’ I offered, remembering that Gareth’s mother, Eunice, used to be a member. She took me to the next meeting as she wanted to re-join. The Consultant, Sandra, reassured me that there were plenty of heart-healthy foods I could eat and as I looked through the books that night, I could see she was right.
“Almost as soon as I started Food Optimising, I loved it. In my first week, I made loads of huge Extra Easy meals using lean meat and fish, and lost a staggering 8½lb. Best of all, I could still eat chocolate if I wanted. (I've discovered that freezing fun-size bars makes them last a lot longer!)
“After seven weeks I'd lost 2st and achieved Club 10. My GP was delighted as my cholesterol levels were lower and my diabetes had virtually disappeared, too.
“By February 2011, having reached my target, I finally accepted I was staying slim for good. Up until then, I hadn’t really even been clothes shopping, but my new job managing a jewellery shop meant I needed to go out and buy a new wardrobe of smart, size-S clothes!
“I used to be cautious about trying new things – not any more. I’m even embarking on a new business venture. Gareth’s a photographer, I run a jewellery shop and our friend makes wedding outfits, so we’re going to join forces and be a one-stop wedding shop, which I’m really excited about.
“Instead of feeling that I might die any moment, leaving Gareth alone, we’ll be working in the wedding industry together, making other people’s dreams come true for (hopefully) a very long time. So thank you very much, Slimming World. You’ve given me my life back.”
*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.