Sam’s master stroke
26-year-old Sam Richardson from Chorley, Lancashire swapped fast food and fad diets for boating, hiking and home-cooked meals – with oar-some results! He's 5ft 9ins and has lost 4st*.
"Months spent bedridden and recovering from a double lung collapse led me to become the biggest I'd ever been. Looking back, it was a real low point, and I’d always been prone to overindulging on bad foods when I was feeling down. Even when I was back at work, I carried on eating unhealthy fast foods. From time to time, I went on a meal-replacement diet. I could never stick to those plans for long, though, and while I always lost a few pounds, I’d quickly regain them.
"By December 2013, I was over 16st and needed 44ins-waist trousers. I felt unattractive and unfit; it only took a few minutes of walking or kicking a ball around with my 3-year-old son, Layton, for me to be exhausted. I also missed out on the chance to go canoeing with him on a caravan holiday and I had an uncomfortable flight to Egypt when I was barely able to fasten the seatbelt.
"My fiancé, Rennie, must have been frustrated that I felt too self-conscious to go out much – diets were never mentioned, though, so as not to upset me. My grandma had no such qualms. ‘My goodness, Samuel, haven’t you put on weight?’ was one of her no-nonsense greetings. Then over Christmas dinner that year, Mum pronounced that I’d let myself go, that she also needed to lose weight, and that we were going to do it together – at Slimming World.
Discovering a different way
"There’s no arguing with my mum when she’s on a mission. And so, on 6 January 2014, I found myself at Joanna’s Slimming World group. The idea that you could lose weight eating healthy versions of regular meals was completely new to me. This was about learning, not punishment. It all seemed a bit too good to be true – and yet I was struck by all the losses that the members were reporting.
"In my first week, I really did put the theory of ‘unlimited amounts of Free Food’ to the test. My plate groaned with home-made burgers, Slimming World chips, pasta, curry, cottage pie and a cooked breakfast. So it was a bit of a shock to learn I’d lost 6½lbs. By the start of that winter, I’d reached my first target of 13st 8lbs and felt like a new person: so much happier and more energetic.
Living a new life
"Since then, I’ve decided I want to lose another 2st, so I’ve just reset my target again to 11st 8lbs. When I first joined group, I could barely imagine life as a slim man. Now, I can’t imagine anything else! I’ve even become a Consultant myself. I opened my own group in September 2015 and now I’m looking after four – around 350 members.
"Luckily, Layton’s too young to remember when Dad ate unhealthily. His mum, who I still get on well with, also Food Optimises, so it’s natural for him to reach for fruit, rather than biscuits, when he wants a snack. Best of all, he’s got a dad who’s up for all sorts of exciting activities whenever we go on holiday. Running, hiking, even canoeing – getting into the boat holds no fears for me now!"
Sam’s stay-fit support team
Hitting the gym six times a week isn’t my idea of fun. I’ve found other ways to boost my Body Magic levels, with a little help from my friends…
- My little boy Taking part in activities with Layton was too exhausting when I was heavier. I felt bulky and awkward, and imagined people were staring at me and making jokes at my expense. Now I’ll try anything with him. We have a really great time together.
- My Couch to 5K podcasts I’ve never been a runner, but I’m one of Slimming World members who’ve pledged to do the 10K Great Manchester Run this year. So now I’m out jogging three times a week and using the free Couch to 5K podcasts from the NHS – they really work.
- My Slimming World group Rennie manages a leisure centre, so we asked an instructor there to create a fun, 60-minute circuit class for all sizes, ages and fitness levels. My friends from group come along, and we have a laugh and get healthier together.
- My dog, Baker the beagle This four-legged trainer gets me out of the house for a mile-and-a-half walk twice a day without fail. I’m not sure I’d be quite that motivated without him.
*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.