Man and boy
Losing 4st 11lbs* has given Paul the energy to chase after little feet – and treat each day as a new adventure.
"That first visit to a soft play centre is a milestone in every toddler’s life. Weighing nearly 21st, though, I felt too big and bulky to navigate the plastic obstacles with my son, Reuben, and my wife, Liz. Although I’d said it many times before, this time I really was serious. I absolutely had to lose weight and keep it off for good.
"I’d always been big. Looking through old family photos, it’s amazing how many feature a young me eating something. I wasn’t unfit, though. I played cricket as a schoolboy, before trying golf. I found I had a bit of a talent and fell in love with the game to such an extent that when I left school, I went to work as a club professional.
"The first time I tried to lose weight was about 10 years ago, but it was a half-hearted affair. Somehow I managed to drop about 2½st. I hadn’t learned about healthy eating, though, and as soon as I went back to the takeaways, I regained the lot.
"I met Liz in 2009, when we were both working for the same finance firm (I’d left my golfing job some years before). At first I couldn’t believe that someone as attractive as Liz was really interested in me. We clicked straight away and in 2010, I asked her to marry me...
Looking for a ‘quick fix’
"Liz and I both wanted to be slimmer for our big day, and for six very long months we lived on low-calorie bars and shakes that left us hungry, irritable and exhausted. I lost 6st – then dived enthusiastically into the buffet during our honeymoon cruise. After only three days, I could no longer fasten up the waistband of my brand-new trousers.
"When Liz discovered she was expecting Reuben – and it was only chivalrous for me to join in with her cravings! I think my stomach was bigger than hers by the time he was born.
"The first few weeks of parenthood were too busy to think about food and slimming. It didn’t help that I’d started working for a food company and always had a van-load of treats parked right outside. While I rarely drank alcohol, I did rely on several energy drinks a day to keep myself going.
"When Liz and her mum decided to give Slimming World a try, I resolved to lose weight, too. I wasn’t keen to attend group at first, because I worked unpredictable hours. So initially I decided I’d eat the same way Liz did when I was at home and have meal-replacement bars at lunchtime.
I couldn’t believe how much tastier our family meals became. Cooked breakfasts instead of piles of buttered toast. Pasta with lots of lovely homemade sauce. Chilli con carne. All the things I already liked, made fresh and healthy.
"Within three months, I’d lost 3st. It was a great achievement, but I knew that if I wanted to enjoy a healthier lifestyle for good, I needed to give up the quick-fix meal-replacement lunches and learn to eat the Slimming World way properly. So in April 2014, I joined Slimming World, too.
Joining Slimming World
"I admit I was worried that, as a man, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable. It didn’t take long for me to realise it didn’t matter whether you were male, female, young or old, we all had the same aim.
"I started planning my meals in advance. I bought a lunch box with lots of compartments and Liz’s lovely mum (who we’re living with at the moment) packed it with Free goodies every morning – slices of lean ham, a big pasta salad, leftover chilli con carne – so that wherever I found myself at midday, I always had something to eat.
I also kept lots of fruit on hand so that I could resist the lure of chocolate.
"There was a moment when my resolve wavered when Liz and I decided to take Reuben on holiday to a caravan park. Although we had the best intentions of cooking for ourselves, or at least making healthy choices when we were out and about, we eventually gave in to the temptation of the on-site fast-food restaurants – and it took two weeks to shift the 9lbs I gained. I learned an important lesson, though: that if I did have a slip, I just had to get straight back on plan to repair it.
The winning formula
"Around the same time, I resolved to do something about my fitness levels. After reaching my Club 10 target, I felt much more energetic and I started working out with a personal trainer. Liz and I also started running three times a week, building up from one-minute jogs to 30-minute runs. We recently completed the Liverpool Half Marathon in just over 2½ hours. And that’s not the end – I’m weight training to keep up my muscular strength, too.
"Late last November, I reached target. I couldn’t believe the change in my body. One year earlier I’d been struggling to fasten 46ins trousers – now I was (and still am!) a sleek 32ins.
My workmates have always loved to banter with me and they still do – the difference is, instead of good-natured jibes about my size, they now tell me if I get any slimmer I’ll slip down the cracks in the road!
"Best of all, I’m the healthy, hands-on dad I always dreamed of being. It’s not just the local soft play centre where you’ll find Reuben and me tearing around, shooting down the slides and laughing together. Children’s farms, parks and playgrounds, our own back garden… there’s no stopping the pair of us. And not forgetting the occasional round of crazy golf, of course – it’s never too soon to introduce my boy to my favourite sport!"
*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.