“My group gave me the confidence to stay on track”*

The sky’s the limit for Brendan O’Donnell, who’s gone from struggling to fasten his seatbelt on an airplane to losing weight and taking his first flying lessons. Brendan's lost more than 150lbs.*

“Throughout high school, I was involved with the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. I was good at math and IT and my ambition was to be a pilot. Unfortunately, when I went for an RAF career interview at the age of 16, I was rejected due to my weight. I knew, deep down, that I should start losing weight.

"I started work in the insurance industry instead, using my math skills. Over the next four years, the combination of a desk job, no exercise and nights on the town saw my weight increase by more than 70lbs. Then, when I met Sarah in 2005, takeout, heat-and-eat lasagnas and sharing big bags of chips while drinking led to us gain weight together.

"Things came to a head as I celebrated my 30th birthday with a family vacation to Spain. I was really looking forward to it, but in the near-100 degree temperatures my weight just made me uncomfortable. I was horrified by the photographs, too.

"I knew about Slimming World because my mom had been a member for a while when I was young. I was apprehensive about joining, though. What if I didn’t like the food? Would I have to give up alcohol and chips forever?

I didn't need to worry. That first week Sarah and I cooked an amazing Slimming World pulled pork recipe and I found that you didn’t have to give up anything—not even alcohol. A week later, I lost a staggering 13½lbs and Sarah lost 5½lbs. 

"As I lost weight my energy levels increased so I decided to start following Slimming World’s Body Magic activity program. I started with a daily walk and then began running. After eight weeks I could run for 30 minutes without stopping. I was hooked. I run regularly now and this year completed the London Marathon, which was an incredible experience.

"Now I look forward to going on vacation without worrying about the heat or airplane seats. I’m also hoping to try scuba diving now I can fit in a wetsuit, and I’m going to learn to fly, which is something I’d always wanted to do but I was previously too heavy for light aircraft.

"I can’t believe how much my life has changed. I’m fit, healthy and really happy. We recently adopted a baby girl and it feels great to know we’ll be setting her up for a healthy future.”

*Your weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much you have to lose.