Computer expert Gareth Ellis from Carlisle, Cumbria knew it was time to change when he crashed through a client’s chair. Now, he’s rebooted his eating and is loving life 9st lighter…
I run my own IT support business and am visiting a client at her home. I sit down on her computer chair and as I lean back it snaps in half, sending me tumbling onto the carpet. Up until this moment, I’ve never really worried about my size, although I do notice I get breathless easily. Maybe it’s a male thing, but buying bigger clothes doesn’t bother me – as long as I can find T-shirts to fit, I’m happy. Now, though, as my client looks on in horror and her children try not to burst out laughing, it doesn’t seem quite as OK.
Another day, another client – and this one will change my life. Her name is Lynda Stock and she tells me she’s a Consultant for Slimming World. She explains I can still eat chips, bacon and baked beans, which is great because I love those foods. What really makes me listen, though, is when she tells me about Syns and how I can choose to spend them on anything I like. I’m sceptical that you can lose weight without going hungry, but she’s planted a seed in my mind.
I call Lynda and ask if I can come along to her group. I’m nervous about walking in on my own, though, so I ask three friends who I know want to lose weight to join me. I needn’t have worried – we’re all given a great welcome. The next day I have my blood pressure taken by my GP. The result puts me in the band for pre-hypertension. I’m not upset because I’m already doing something about it. That’s the old me.
It’s four weeks now since I started the plan and I can feel that my clothes are looser. I’m following Extra Easy because it’s so simple. For breakfast, I have cereal with skimmed milk, followed by a baked potato with lean ham and lots of salad at lunchtime, for example. Dinner is often steak or chicken with mash and a mound of Superfree veg. I’m finding I don’t need to cook with butter or oil, I hardly ever order takeaways and I’ve discovered the joys of Free Foods – I’m constantly snacking on fruit.
I’ve lost just over 2st to reach my Club 10 target and I feel amazing! All the awards, like Slimmer of the Week, are great motivators.
When I was younger, I cycled everywhere. Then my bike was stolen and I decided to buy a car, and that was the end of any regular exercise. Fast-forward 10 years and look at me now – I’ve just run my first 5k! I’ve been trying the NHS Couch to 5K programme, running three times a week for the past two months, and it’s transformed the way I feel about exercise. It’s also helped fast-track my weight loss, so I’m losing 3-5lbs a week. I’ve started adding in kettlebell sessions, too, and they’re helping tone me up.
My weight loss seems to have slowed down, so I decide to go back to basics for a month and make sure I’m Food Optimising 100 per cent. I check that I always have healthy meals in my fridge and freezer that I can prepare quickly and easily when I get home from work. All the support from my Consultant and my group via our Facebook page really helps me through this sticky patch, too. I’m soon back on track and lose another 8lbs.
A year on from the chair-breaking incident, and I’ve been booked for a return visit to the same client. She’s amazed at how much I’ve slimmed down.
My BMI is around 25, so for the first time in years, I’m not overweight. The GP says my blood pressure is ideal and my resting heart rate is good, too. A big reason I’ve stuck to the plan is that I’ve found ways to still eat the foods I love. My favourite Slimming World recipe is for Southern fried chicken and I’ve even given sausage sandwiches a healthy makeover, with low-fat bangers and lots of onions and tomatoes in wholemeal bread.
I’ve reached my target weight and I’m thrilled. My family and my wife Shai are so proud of me; I look like a different person and I’ve earned a lot of respect for being able to turn my life around. People who haven’t seen me for a while are amazed and I’m only too happy to tell them how I’ve done it.
Looking back, I realise I never used to think much about the future. I guess I didn’t think I’d make it much past 50 because of my size, and I didn’t want children partly because I didn’t want them to struggle with their weight in the same way as I have. That’s all changed now and I feel so much optimism for the future. I’m even imagining what I might do when I’m 65 and have given up work! I’ve been very lucky in my life – I work for myself, I’m a local government councillor and everything I’ve achieved I’ve done on my own terms. The one thing I felt I couldn't change was my weight. Now, though, thanks to a chance conversation over a broken laptop, I’ve achieved that, too.