Scott Halls from Cotton, Suffolk is motoring towards a healthier future after losing 4st 9lbs with support from his wife, Samantha. He's 43 years old and 6ft tall.
"Last year, I went on a cruise to Norway that changed my life – in more ways than one. I’d been planning to propose to my girlfriend, Samantha, for months. I’d managed to sneak one of her rings out of the house to find out her size, and I’d even asked permission from her dad, who was sworn to secrecy. Then, on our first day at sea, I got down on one knee in the cabin and popped the question… and she said yes! We got so excited as we started talking about what kind of big day we wanted, and began planning our future together.
"There was one thing dampening my excitement, though. I didn’t feel happy with my weight and dreaded the thought of posing for photos. When I told Samantha, she admitted that she felt the same. It almost seemed like fate when we found ourselves chatting to another couple on the cruise who mentioned they’d lost a lot of weight with Slimming World. Although I’d heard the name before, I’d assumed it wasn’t something I’d ever be interested in. They both looked fantastic, though, so I couldn’t help wondering if it might just be worth a shot.
"At college, I’d been one of those lucky lads who could eat whatever they wanted. I’d get a battered sausage and chips for lunch, snack on crisps and chocolate and, despite not being particularly sporty, stay pretty much the same size. Then, in my 20s, I got a job as a computer programmer and started to gain weight. It was very gradual – one belt notch at a time. By the time I hit 30, I’d gone from wearing a large T-shirt to an XXL, and my waist measured 44ins.
"I’d never considered my eating habits to be especially unhealthy, though looking back now, most of the foods I was choosing were high in sugar or fat – or both! I’d have two bowls of cereal covered in sugar every morning and a shop-bought sandwich with a bag of crisps for lunch. Then, in the evening, I’d have a ready meal or a big bowl of pasta with sauce from a jar. My coffee habit wasn’t helping, either. There was a cafe just down the road from my office and I wouldn’t think twice about having three or four full-fat lattes a day.
Falling in love
"I met Samantha online in 2011 and we dated for two years before moving in together. Life was bliss – and we soon got a little too comfortable.
"We’d go out for three-course meals, drink a couple of bottles of wine on a Friday night and have takeaways every other week. We’d order far too much for two people, and still manage to finish it. Other nights we’d sit in front of the TV and snack on popcorn and crisps. These days, we call it ‘the robot arm’ – we’d reach out automatically without thinking about what or how much we were eating.
"At the time, I wouldn’t have said my size affected me. Now I realise it did, in lots of little ways. I had a painful condition in my left leg called meralgia paraesthetica, caused by a trapped nerve in my hip. The doctor would often tell me the extra weight was making it worse. I’d nod along in agreement, while it went in one ear and out of the other.
"Even though I knew Samantha loved me just as I was, my confidence had definitely started to suffer. We’re both quite active people, yet we’d both started to dislike the summer because we couldn’t hide our bodies in big jumpers when we were out and about. And if any of our friends suggested going swimming, I’d dread taking my top off.
"As soon as we got home from that cruise, Samantha found a local Slimming World group. I was in two minds whether to join her. Though I desperately wanted to lose weight, I wasn’t convinced a group would be for me. When Samantha’s parents decided to join, too, I felt better knowing there would be at least one other man there – so I decided to risk it.
"I can’t deny I felt uncomfortable. I’d never really weighed myself before that first night and I had no idea I’d reached 18st 2lbs, while Samantha was 14st 1½lbs. Still, I was relieved to spot a couple of other men in the group. In any case, now I was actually there, it didn’t seem to matter so much: everyone was really friendly. As the Consultant began to talk us through the plan, I started to feel more relaxed.
"Back home, Samantha and I made changes immediately, getting rid of all the jars of sauces that filled our cupboards and doing a huge shop to stock up on fresh ingredients. In that first week, we made home-cooked meals every night and I couldn’t get over how many vegetables I chopped! I swapped my sweetened-up cereal for bran flakes (a Healthy Extra) topped with fat-free natural yogurt and fresh fruit. Although I missed the sugar rush at first, I really enjoy my breakfast now. For my after-work snack, I replaced my usual crusty white bread slathered with peanut butter with two Mini Babybel Originals, which I also count as a Healthy Extra.
Changing our habits really paid off – in the first week, I lost 5lbs and Samantha lost 10lbs! We both continued to lose, although a little more steadily at a pound or two a week.
As time went on, it seemed to get easier and easier to stick to plan – especially because of the variety of foods we could have. I’d been really worried I’d be living on lettuce every day and getting bored; the reality was that I looked forward to our exciting, freshly made dinners.
"Food Optimising with Samantha really helped, too. We enjoyed deciding what to cook together and when we ate out, we could discuss the best options, because we both knew the plan inside out. Even more important for me was her emotional support. If I was craving a high-Syn treat, she’d never try to talk me out of it – instead she’d ask me how much I wanted it and whether I felt it was really worth going off plan for. And, of course, when we lost weight together, we celebrated together!
"Before long, people started to notice that I was getting slimmer. Friends would double-take as I passed them in town and even the guys at work began to comment. When I told people I was following Slimming World, their first question was always: ‘Aren’t you hungry all the time?’. I could tell them that I genuinely wasn’t. Food Optimising isn’t about eating less – it’s just about making better choices. After seeing how well I was getting on, some of my colleagues started bringing their own healthier snacks into work, too.
"Ten months after that first night, I got to my target. I weigh 13st 7lbs and can fit into a medium T-shirt. At 9st 12lbs and a size 8, Samantha is at target, too. She’s always been beautiful to me, and it’s great to see her looking so happy and healthy now. Meanwhile, my dress sense has completely changed.
I always used to try to disguise my shape, whereas now I wear fitted shirts and tucked-in T-shirts to show it off. I’ve even got a pair of slim-fitting jeans.
"They’re not the only changes, either. My leg feels better and I have so much more energy, particularly in the evenings. We’ve always loved going for walks and hikes, and now we can stay out for much longer – with the bonus that any hills we come across aren’t a struggle. We’ve even taken on an overgrown allotment, which we can’t wait to get stuck into during our free time. In fact, the only downside is that Samantha’s engagement ring doesn’t fit any more, so we’re taking it to be resized. We celebrated our wedding in August, with our new-found confidence, we definitely didn't mind the attention.
"Quite a few of the women in my family have struggled with their weight and I’m no exception. The pounds started creeping on while I was studying to be a gardener. It was a very active course and I’d tell myself that I’d earned all the crisps and bars of chocolate I was treating myself to.
"Although I was delighted when Scott proposed, I knew straight away that I didn’t want to get married at the size I was. I never insisted Scott lose weight with me, though. I knew he found the idea of going to a group intimidating, so it was great that he overcame this and went for it. I’m so proud of him.
"Our weight losses have been a journey we’ve taken together and I couldn’t have done it without him. Going through the ups and downs as a couple has brought us closer than ever."
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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