"I’m in the best shape I’ve been for 10 years"*

Being sidelined by a basketball injury led Mark Quashie to gain weight. Losing 49lbs*, Mark got his bounce back and learned how to get in shape. Now, this slam-dunking dad is hitting the court in better shape than ever.

September 1992, 196lbs

I’m 17 years old, I’ve left school and I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I started playing basketball recreationally and one night a teacher from my old school spots me and asks if I’d like to join a league. It sounds interesting, so I go along and I love it. Within a few months I’m playing in basketball tournaments all over New York, and this turns into a professional career playing with teams in the U.S., Spain, Germany, Iceland and Portugal. Because I’m playing sports so much, my weight is never a problem—I can eat whatever I want. I’m a huge fan of pastries and never put on an ounce. In fact, at one point, I had a fitness test where I weigh in at just 196lbs and my body fat measures only 10 percent. The basketball coaches tell me to put weight on!

August 1996, 203lbs

I meet my future wife Laura at a basketball tournament in Germany. She’s in the women’s team and I’m in the men’s. She’s 6 feet tall, is studying for a degree in sports management and I think she’s gorgeous. We’re both seeing other people and it would be wrong to start a relationship, so we just become friends. Even at this stage, I know she’s someone really special.

February 2003, 210lbs

I’ve played basketball all over Europe and have now returned home, and I can’t get Laura out of my head. I’ve split up with my partner so I email Laura to tell her how I feel. To my amazement, she emails back, tells me she’s single and that she feels the same way. Three months later we’re engaged and we marry in May the following year. We have our first daughter, Kaya, in 2005 and I start playing only semi-professionally because it’s not fair to Laura for me to be traveling every week for matches. I also start working as a carer for people with learning disabilities, which is very rewarding.

March 2008, 224lbs

Basketball is such a high-impact game that you expect parts of your body to ache at times. My right foot, however, has been hurting for a while and my brother-in-law encourages me to have an X-ray. When I find out it’s broken, I’m devastated. I’ll need surgery because it’s a difficult fracture. It could mean several weeks, or even months, away from the basketball court.

September 2008, 231lbs

My foot still isn’t healing. I haven’t played basketball for six months now and I really miss being on the court. I’m eating the same food though—a fast food breakfast, pastries, beer, fries... I can feel my clothes are getting tighter. I’ve always worn 38-inch trousers, but now they don’t fit. I decide not to think about it too much; I’m sure it will come off once I start playing basketball again. I have another operation on my foot but it doesn’t work either. The doctors also discover I have an irregular heartbeat, which is slightly worrying. It’s not caused by the extra weight, but I’m sure it can’t be helping.

May 2009, 259lbs

I have my picture taken for an ID card and when I see my face, I realize how much weight I’ve put on. Laura thinks I look fine (she calls me her “chunky monkey”) but I tell her I’m really not happy. I’ve even grown a beard to hide my double chin. My brother Christopher gained weight and has a thyroid problem, while my dad has diabetes, and I don’t want to end up in the same boat. I need to do something, but the idea of counting calories and cutting out food really doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll just wait until my foot gets better and then start exercising again—the weight’s bound to come off.

March 2010, 266lbs

It’s now two years since my broken foot and I’m still not playing any sports. One my colleagues mentions his mother, who lost 112lbs with Slimming World—I ask him about it and it sounds like my kind of thing: no counting calories, just a list of foods you can eat as often as you like. Laura has put on 42lbs and wants to lose weight, too, so I suggest we both go.

April 2010, 269lbs

From the word go, I know I’m going to love Slimming World. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and I like the way everybody shares tips and advice. Laura loses 4lbs in her first week and I lose 2lbs. I’m flabbergasted. I had no idea you could lose weight just by changing your eating habits—I always thought you had to do tons of exercise, too. The following week I lost 7lbs and it becomes a competition between Laura and me! If it stays this easy, I’m going to reach my target by the summer. Amazing.

August 2010, 222½lbs

My leg is in a cast because it’s recovering from more surgery, so I wasn’t looking forward to getting weighed. It turns out I’ve lost another 3lbs, even with the cast on! It blows me away. I’ve already passed my initial target of 231lbs and have set myself a new target of 216lbs. The weight is dropping off and I’m eating tons. People in group are asking, “How are you doing it?” and all I can say is, “Stick to the plan—it works!”

September 2010, 214½lbs

I’ve reached my target of 216lbs. Now I’m here, though, I’m finding that maintaining it is harder and soon I put 4lbs back on. Then the basketball season starts again and, as my foot has healed at last, I’m back on court. My weight goes down to 213lbs. One of the main effects of losing weight is how much more energy I have. My coaches can’t believe the difference in me, even from before I put the weight on. I’m racing up and down the court really quickly and I’m in the best shape I’ve been for 10 years. I put the young guys to shame!

January 2012, 220lbs

I wish I’d known about Slimming World 10 years ago. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change, and I’m a complete convert. If I want a snack, I’ll eat cold cuts, or have couscous and vegetables with lemon squeezed over. People are amazed by how much I eat now—the difference is that it’s all healthy. I’m also including more exercise into my life outside basketball. Before, I didn’t go jogging because my knees hurt—now I go out for half an hour every day and do interval training, too. It’s liberating! Losing weight has been a learning curve and it’s changed my life. I’m so happy to be back on the basketball court doing what I love.

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

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