The motorcycle riders revved their engines as they waited for the signal to start…and then they were off! I watched, mesmerised, from the stands. I’d been going to speedway races since I was 11 and, over 45 years on, I found it just as thrilling as I had back then. The bikes had one gear and no brakes, so the speed and agility of the riders was extraordinary as they skidded around the bends. I joked to myself that I only had one gear, too, and it was set to eating. Unfortunately, I also seemed to have no brakes!
Weight Loss 7 Days Photo Gallery
I’d always been a big lad and having grown up in a house where there were always hearty meals, treats and snacks on tap, I’d passed that tradition on to my own family. My wife, Denise, and I would often have three takeaways in a week and I snacked on crisps and chocolates during the day. Denise, who was in the WI, also regularly baked cakes – which I found impossible to resist. Now in my late 50s, I weighed more than 25st and while I was a keen spectator and would have loved to get on one of those speedway bikes, I felt like my chances of doing something so physical were long gone. Over the years, there’d been a few occasions when I’d tried to watch what I ate – and sometimes I’d lost a stone or two – but it had felt like hard work, and I’d soon given up and put the weight back on. Even the regular health checks I’d had for my welding job hadn’t spurred me into action.
At the last one, I’d found out I was glucose intolerant. ‘Be careful,’ the doctor had said. ‘If you keep this up, you’ll probably develop diabetes within a year.’ Despite his warnings, I didn’t feel any urgency to address my weight. My blood pressure wasn’t dangerously high and I didn’t need any treatment now. Maybe I’d start worrying about my health next year… Within the next 12 months, though, a lot changed. I was made redundant from the welding job and became a delivery driver for an artisan bread company. On day one, after delivering the first tray of bread to a shop, I went back to the van to fetch a second, then started to feel out of breath. By the time I was behind the wheel again, my heart was racing. Tired out from the exertion, I couldn’t wait until the end of my shift, when I could help myself to the delicious teacakes or scones that would be left out for the staff. Every day was the same and as I struggled from the van to the shop, I’d often wonder if I’d soon be completely unfit for work. Gearing up A few months later, Denise and I were on a cruise, enjoying time with our family and indulging in all the lavish food on offer. One night, Denise and my brother-in-law were chatting in our cabin, so I took my suit into the bathroom to get changed for dinner.
It was so cramped in there and as I twisted myself to get into my suit, I honestly thought I might get stuck. I emerged sweating and panting and, on catching my reflection, I realised my shirt and trousers barely fitted. All through the meal that image played on my mind. I knew I had to lose weight – but how? The solution came soon after we got home. My daughter, Rebecca, was a Slimming World member and had been raving about it for a while, and Denise had realised I was finally open to the idea of losing weight… So the next time Rebecca recommended it, Denise jumped at the chance. ‘It sounds great! David and I could go together,’ she said. I mumbled about not seeing the point of weekly weigh-ins, while deep down it was more that getting help to lose weight was admitting defeat. But I knew it could also help Denise. Although she had far less to lose than me, she had lost a leg and being a healthy weight would help protect her good leg. Eventually, I said, ‘OK, let’s do it’. As we walked into group, I suddenly felt worried again. Why wasn’t I just sorting this out by myself? Then the Consultant Sally’s warm welcome banished all my negative thoughts.
As I looked around, I realised I was in a roomful of people in the same boat as me and that there was no stigma to seeking help. When Sally explained Food Optimising and that we could eat normal food and lose weight, it didn’t seem logical – after all, that’s what I’d been doing and I was gaining weight! Then I found out I weighed 25st 5lbs, much more than I’d been expecting, and I was prepared to give anything a go. The next day, Denise and I sat down to plan a week’s worth of meals, then went out food shopping. We kept it simple to begin with, enjoying grilled lean meat with lots of vegetables or salad and boiled potatoes, and trying out a couple of Slimming World recipes, like the Campfire stew. When I realised how many Syns were in the daily biscuits, crisps and cakes I’d been eating, I knew I needed some new snacks! We put a large bowl of fruit by the front door and I’d grab an apple or a big bunch of grapes on my way to work, so I’d always have something healthy to nibble on.
After a week of eating Food Optimising meals and trying out my new approach to snacking, I got on the scales at group to see if it was doing any good…and was amazed when they stopped at 24st 8½lbs. I’d already lost 10½lbs! That was the moment any scepticism I’d had vanished. I got to my first target weight of 20st in four months and from there decided to break my weight loss down into 2st chunks – this helped me reach milestone after milestone. Denise and I quickly became friends with everyone at group and we were like one big family, always offering each other encouragement and advice. Our group tasting sessions were real eye-openers, too, as other members brought in recipes we’d never have thought to try, such as butternut squash lasagne. Then one week, I put on 3½lbs. After having steady losses, I wasn’t sure what had happened.
My group was really supportive, but something wasn’t quite right and the next week I gained again. I was feeling quite disheartened when I got a text from Sally: ‘You’ve been very quiet and I wanted to check everything was OK? Let me know if you need any help’. Knowing she cared about my weight loss was the boost I needed. I’d done so well, I wasn’t going to give up. I made sure I followed Food Optimising to the letter and the scales started moving again. By now, my friends were all commenting on how much weight I’d lost. After years of wearing size-6XL clothes, I was now comfortably fitting into an XL – and I knew I was only a few pounds away from the next size down. I was feeling so much better in myself – especially at work. Delivering those trays of bread had become easier and easier, and my confidence was growing. When a new position came up, I applied, and within weeks I was made logistics manager, in charge of a team of delivery workers. Victory lap I reached my target of 14st 5lbs within a year and Denise had now lost 3st 4lbs, too – could things get any better? On my 59th birthday, Denise handed me an envelope from the whole family.
‘Go on, open it,’ she said. ‘What’s this?’ I asked, tearing it open. Inside was a gift certificate for a speedway experience day. This wasn’t just watching riders, it was getting on one of the bikes and taking part. A year ago, I’d have never dreamed of doing anything like this and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Welcoming us to the speedway track was ex-racer Wayne Carter, one of my heroes when I was younger. He and his team talked us through what was involved and then we got kitted up. We lined up on our bikes at the starting gate, the tape sprung up and we were off… We may not have been speeding around as fast as the pros do, but it felt absolutely amazing. I loved it so much, I booked another experience day as soon as I could. Getting on that bike opened my mind to trying more new things, too. I’ve started learning the guitar, which I’d tried in the past but my stomach had blocked my view of the frets. That’s not a problem any more! I’ve also taken up playing bowls and I’m so full of energy I can run around with my four-year-old granddaughter, Imogen. I’m looking forward to spending lots more time with her and her six-month-old sister, Poppy – being an active granddad. I’m 60, yet I feel like a man a third my age! And that was confirmed by my doctor when he reassured me my risk of diabetes had fallen dramatically. ‘Your blood sugar levels are normal,’ he said. ‘In fact, you’ve got the blood test results of a 19-year-old.’ At that moment, I thought back to how sceptical I’d been about joining group, little realising how much it could transform me – inside and out. And as I look forward to my next speedway day, I “ already feel like I’ve won the greatest race of my life.
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