Haunted by the thought of embarrassing his daughter at the school gates, Raith Rahmani from Stockport, Cheshire reassessed his lifestyle and reduced his weight by nearly 5½st*.
"'Are you off to the gym, Daddy?’ Ella, my younger daughter, asks me as I grab my kit bag. Today, my girls see a man who’s happy with his weight, takes pride in his fitness and hopes that his good example is rubbing off on them, too.
"That wasn’t always the case. A little over a year ago, I was a very different man. I’d been overweight for most, if not all, of my teens and gradually put on more and more weight until now, in my thirties, I was my heaviest ever. While I made light of my size to those around me, inside I was hurting. My appearance had seriously dented my self-esteem. My wife is a petite size 6-8 and I found myself wondering if people looked at all 20-plus stone of me and wondered to themselves: ‘What’s she doing with him?’
"Then, in September 2013, my elder daughter Mya started school and the thought of my little girl being teased about her ‘big daddy’ at the gate started gnawing away at me. It wouldn’t have happened immediately I know, but in time, if things didn’t change, I worried that I would become a real embarrassment to her. I had this image of me struggling to complete the dads’ sack race amid howls of laughter. I realised it wasn’t just about me – my weight might affect the ones I loved, too.
"Even as I contemplated making changes to my eating habits, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. The weight had gone on over almost 20 years, so there was no way I’d shift it overnight. I had a go at meal-replacement diets, but quickly realised I was spending far more pounds on the concoctions than I was actually losing when I stood on the scales! Plus I found I just couldn’t stick to them. I knew deep down that there must be a better solution to my weight problem. Over Christmas 2013, I decided that 2014 was going to be my year.
My mum was already losing weight at Slimming World and when I told her I wanted to slim down she said: ‘You have to come and see my Consultant, Judith!’
"Having Mum there that first night helped because I was a little anxious. I needn’t have been, though. Judith instantly put me at ease with the warmth and friendliness I soon learned to expect every time I went to group, and which turned out to be really key for me. If I hadn’t felt such a welcome part of our Slimming World ‘family’, I probably wouldn’t have continued to go every week.
Enter the ‘V’ word
"The first – and biggest – change I made was eating far more fresh vegetables (the ‘V’ word literally hadn’t passed my lips before). I quickly developed an interest in cooking healthy Food Optimising dishes. I loved every minute of my time in the kitchen as I experimented with a whole range of fantastic recipes from the Slimming World website. My favourites? It’s close between the fakeaway Szechuan beef and the meaty, spicy chilli con carne. I would even batch-cook meals for weekdays, so I wouldn’t be tempted to go off plan when I was busy or tired after work.
"Mum and I became as competitive as we were supportive of each other. She certainly made getting on the scales each week much more fun. Early on in my journey I needed a 1½lb drop to get my stone award and was so disappointed when I discovered I’d only lost a pound. I felt sure I’d lost more than that! I was determined not to let things slip, though, and thanks to unfailing support from Mum and Judith, I managed a 3½lb loss the following week.
As I began to experience success with Slimming World, other areas of my life began to change, too. With the weight coming off, I started to get more active.
"I lost a couple of stones in a few months, and that’s when I dusted off my old bike from the shed and started to go out riding. At first it was just weekends, then once I’d got my fitness levels up I treated myself to a new bike and started cycling to work a couple of times a week.
A whizz on wheels
"I was amazed at myself. I’d gone from being an exercise-shy overweight man who was barely able to lift a few boxes at work without feeling faint, to becoming a full-on cyclist. Now I’ll do an 18-mile round commute a couple of times a week on the bike, then head out for longer 30- or 40-mile sessions at weekends. Previously, I’d have been tired out driving those distances in the car!
"I even signed up to do some endurance events alongside one of my close mates, Jonny McKendry. After Jonny lost his mum, Bernadette, to cancer he set out on a £15,000 fundraising mission for The Christie, a local hospice. I wanted to help and I knew that using the charity challenges as targets to work towards would motivate me, too.
"In September 2014 I completed the Tough Mudder army assault course – basically, 12 miles of running through thick mud with intermittent obstacles. Jonny, the team and I climbed walls, swung on ropes, crawled along tunnels and swam through murky ice-cold pools. At the end of the course there was even an electric-shock hazard. It was exhausting, it was incredibly challenging and if I needed any evidence of how far I’d come in less than a year, Tough Mudder definitely provided it! It was a major achievement and I’m probably now in the best shape I’ve ever been.
Then I did a 170-mile coast-to-coast cycle ride with Jonny over two days. I’m so proud that I can use my new-found fitness levels to help my pal raise money for a great cause.
"When I joined Slimming World my trousers had a 46ins waist. Right now they’re a very comfortable 36ins – I’ve lost a whole 10ins! Not surprisingly, I’ve had to buy myself a totally new wardrobe... after donating eight full bin bags of clothes to the Big Slimming World Clothes Throw. Until then, I’d been hanging on to things ‘just in case’. Not any more, I decided – my lifestyle has changed completely and I have no intention of putting the weight back on.
"With my new size has come new confidence. I look forward to nights out now, as I no longer feel self-conscious. I know Carol and my daughters are proud of me, too, and that’s something I cherish. Today Mya and Ella see me as their fit and active daddy. They treat it as the norm in our house that I share the cooking with their mum and create healthy meals we all sit and enjoy together. I’m their fun dad, who can play and run around with them, and that's an amazing feeling."
Keep it in the family
Make weight loss a team effort with Raith’s four steps to success:
- Eat together: I cook us all Food Optimising meals using fresh ingredients, so I know my wife and daughters are eating delicious, healthy foods, too.
- Spread the word: My mum told me about Slimming World and I’ve since introduced friends to group. It’s a great way to share advice and encouragement.
- Get everyone involved in Body Magic: We do more active things as a family – I want healthy habits to be second nature to my girls.
- Let your loved ones help you: My wife is brilliant at keeping an eye out for sneaky Syns and slip-ups. Without her support I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
*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.