Gareth: "My life – and my appearance – have been transformed"
Name: Gareth Rogers
Workshop: The Burnside Hotel, Glasgow
Coach: Michelle Friel
Date joined WW: 15 March 2020
Start weight: 23st 5lb
Goal weight: 15st 7lb
Current weight: 17st 9lb
Last weekend, my kids and I scrolled through the WW app to choose what to make for dinner. It’s something we wouldn’t have done even a couple of months ago, but a lot has changed this year.
"My eating habits were terrible"
I’ve struggled with my weight since my mid-20s. I tried diets, but I always thought of them as a short-term fix. So, after shifting the excess weight, I’d go back to my old ways and the weight would pile back on. And it never took long.
Plus, my eating habits were terrible. I’d have buttery toast and jam for breakfast, and although I’d pack homemade sandwiches for lunch, I’d end up eating chocolate and crisps as well, plus a few energy drinks, and all before 10am! My job as a sales manager meant I was often on the road and if I had to stay away for a night, I’d treat myself to an indulgent three-course dinner.
As well as my unhealthy food choices, I also became secretive about what I ate, which was perhaps the unhealthiest habit of all. When I was at home with my wife Alison and our children Tyler, 15, and Jasmine, 13, I ate normal meals with my family. But whenever I was on my own, I’d devour energy drinks and chocolate in secret.
Alison was very concerned and tried to encourage me to consider my health. I knew I was obese, and there was no denying it was affecting everything in my life, but I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
I told myself: “I can, and I will do this”
Then, in March 2020, we went to Wales for a weekend to celebrate my mum’s birthday. I knew the subject of my weight would come up, and of course it did! However, this time I couldn’t brush off my family’s worries; I knew I had to do something. I’d actually been a WW member around seven years earlier and had lost more than 4st on the programme before my busy, stressful job got in the way and I lost my focus. That’s when Alison said, ‘You know it works – try it again.’ By the end of that weekend, I’d decided to go for it.
But before I could get to my first Workshop, the country went into lockdown and I was furloughed. My initial thought was that I wouldn’t be able to follow the WW programme if my usual routine had been turned upside down, but then something just clicked. I realised I’d finally have the time and space to follow the plan properly – no excuses – and I could make lockdown a success. I told myself: ‘I can, and I will do this.’
I knew my Coach, Michelle Friel, from when I’d been a member seven years earlier, and when I spoke to her, she was so encouraging. Michelle explained there’d be a Virtual Workshop with everyone in the group on Zoom. It felt a bit weird at first, but it was great to see other members, hear how they were getting on, and give each other support and tips. Alison and I then invested in a good set of weighing scales to keep an accurate track of my progress, and boy, was there progress!
"The programme is really simple"
In the first week I lost 5lb, and as time went on my weight continued to drop. I’m following the Green Plan, which I find really simple. Typically, I’ll have two poached eggs on wholemeal toast for breakfast, then WW Mediterranean soup for lunch along with a ham sandwich. If I’m peckish in between meals, I’ll snack on fruit. In the evening, we’ll choose one of the great WW recipes for the whole family to enjoy together. We’re especially loving beef teriyaki and vegetarian spaghetti arrabbiata at the moment.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking at the weekend, and before I joined WW, I’d pick recipes that were rather indulgent, like a Thai curry made with creamy full-fat coconut milk. But I’ve learned that simple swaps mean I can cook healthier versions of my family’s old favourites, and they still taste fantastic. I’ve also discovered how ingredients like herbs, spices, garlic and sea salt can totally transform a meal. It’s no exaggeration that the WW app has become my recipe bible.
"There's an amazing sense of community online"
In fact, the app has become an essential part of my life in every way because it keeps me focused. I especially love the Connect function; it’s like Facebook for WW members and it's a great way to share ideas. The amazing sense of community online also makes you realise you’re not alone – everyone’s cheering you on.
The biggest challenge during lockdown was making sure boredom didn’t creep in and trigger bad habits. I stuck to a routine, getting up at 6am as usual and scheduling in time to exercise around family time and home schooling. And because we only went to the supermarket when it was absolutely necessary, we planned our food shop meticulously, which really helped me to avoid temptation.
Daily exercise proved to be a godsend too. I started off doing 3km walks, but that quickly increased and now I’m walking 12km. I also started cycling again. Alison often comes with me on my walks. Now she’s lost 7lb and her fitness level has improved. She’s delighted!
What I love about the WW approach is the focus on creating positive habits. I’m going to stick with my new routine of healthy eating and exercise no matter how hectic ‘normal’ life gets. They’re essential pillars in my life now.
"My life has been transformed"
I owe my family so much gratitude for all their support, too. Lockdown meant we got to spend far more time together, which was terrific, and WW fitted really well into our family life. It’s actually brought us all closer together.
In just three months my life – and my appearance – have been transformed. Before WW, I was wearing size XXXL shirts and 44-inch jeans, but I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe. It’s great to be wearing clothes that fit well and look good – I feel smart and confident. I can’t wait to see my customers’ faces when we meet up again!
Last week, I bagged my first Munro when I climbed Ben Lomond – something I never dreamed I’d be able to do. As I stood at the summit taking in the incredible views, to say I felt on top of the world is an understatement.
3 tips that work for me
1. Plan meals and snacks carefully before you shop. It not only helps you to stay on track, but your financial budget will thank you, too.
2. Try healthy food swaps, especially for snacks. Instead of chocolate, I’ll now have a handful of grapes, which are naturally sweet, or yogurt instead of ice cream after dinner, so I never feel deprived.
3. Master portion control. I now weigh foods like rice and pasta, then add plenty of veg to bulk it up so the plate looks full and satisfies my appetite.