Matt: My son said I had a belly like Santa. He wasn't wrong!
"At 42, I’m 2st lighter than I was at 22. That’s incredible! "
Start weight: 17st 13lb | Weight loss: 6st 4lb
Current weight: 11st 9lb
Height: 5' 11" | Age: 42
Time taken to goal: 9 months
Studio: Holyhead, Anglesey
WW Coach: Jenny Jones
Lots of people suffer with the post-Christmas blues but on 2 January this year, I felt especially gloomy. I’d bent down to cut my toenails only to discover I could no longer reach them. Red in the face from the exertion, I stepped on the bathroom scales and realised why: I was 17st 13lb, my heaviest ever.
A day earlier my five-year-old son Oscar had joked that I had a belly like Santa, and he wasn’t wrong. I realised I needed to do something about my weight, so I snapped a quick selfie in my underpants, to keep me motivated over the coming months.
I’d carried a bit of extra weight since my teenage years and found chocolate and beer hard to resist. Occasionally I’d go through phases of eating more healthily and going for long runs, but they never lasted. And although working as an engineer for the RAF meant I had to stay reasonably strong in order to pass the twice-yearly fitness test, my size bothered me.
I’d laugh easily and appeared to be outgoing, but deep down I felt really self-conscious about my body. Shopping for clothes was something I particularly hated. Embarrassed, I’d grab the biggest shirt I could find on the rack then get out of the shop as quickly as possible.
The cover-up wasn’t successful with Oscar though. One day he squeezed my chest and giggled: ‘Daddy’s got boobs!’ I laughed, but it stung. Daddies aren’t supposed to have boobs.
Last Christmas my partner Liz, Oscar and I travelled from our home in Cheshire to North Wales to visit family. It was my usual festive routine – sweets and chocolate at the pantomime with Oscar, nights out drinking beer with old mates and waking up on Christmas Day with a hangover. My mum put on an all-day spread of party food – sausage rolls and Scotch eggs were my favourites – while my dad cooked a turkey with all the trimmings. After lunch came Christmas pudding, then I got stuck into my oversized Toblerone.
But after years of over-indulgence, I was paying the price and knew I had to stop. My colleague Bryony was a WW member and I’d seen how well the plan had worked for her. So I signed up online and a week later, joined Bryony at her meeting, which was near to the RAF base in Anglesey where I lived during the week. I’m quite a competitive, task-focused person and losing 7lb in my first week spurred me on. Our WW Coach, Jenny, was so supportive and determined to help us – she was always so proud whenever anyone lost a few pounds. Because of her dedication, I was spurred on to work harder, as I didn’t want to let her down.
I started off on a daily allowance of 40 SmartPoints, then reduced it. I used the app to track what I ate and, when I returned home at weekends, Liz and I would experiment with WW recipes, cooking a mean garlic chicken curry or gluten-free carrot cake.
I also started running again, and it wasn’t long before I was managing five miles most days. Headphones on, I’d just go for it – and it was exhilarating. My new, healthier lifestyle meant I soon reached my goal weight of 11st 13lb. To celebrate, I treated myself to my old favourite takeaway: battered sausage, chips and curry sauce. But after a few mouthfuls, I realised I wasn’t enjoying it. My whole mindset around food had changed.
I went on to lose a total of 6st 4lb – and gained so much belief in myself. Apart from a pair of 42 inch-waist shorts, which I’ve kept as a reminder not to return to my old ways, I sold all my old, baggy clothes at a car boot sale. Then I went out and bought a pair of skinny jeans with a 32 inch-waist!
Now it’s all about moderation. If Oscar sees me with a slice of pizza he’ll nag: ‘Daddy, you can’t eat that.’ ‘Yes, Daddy can – he’s maintaining,’ I’ll remind him. But generally I still stick to my daily SmartPoints allowance, with the occasional Nando’s thrown in.
This Christmas I’ll still have a few beers with my mates and tuck into Dad’s turkey roast, but I won’t gorge myself until I’m so full I can hardly move. Then on Boxing Day – okay, maybe the day after – I’ll go for a run.
At 42, I’m 2st lighter than I was at 22. That’s incredible! And there’s no way a bumper bar of Toblerone could ever compete with a confidence boost like that.