LOSING weight can be hard, and it was no different for Joe Thompson.
The 35-year-old had started to 'feel like a failure' after his own efforts were unsuccessful.
Joe, who lives in Essex said he had been calorie counting and cutting out carbs for a long time and still not seeing results.
A healthy diet is comprised of all food groups and Joe had been altering these on his many quests to lose weight.
But the tables turned for him when he tried fit into a suit he'd purchased before the pandemic for his friends wedding.
He said: "Dusting the suit off, the trousers didn’t fit and I needed to get it altered to be two sizes bigger. I was mortified and knew I needed to do something."
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It was that moment that Joe decided to change his life and since then he has lost more than 5st – while still eating some of his favourite foods.
In October last year, he joined his local Slimming World group in Woodford Green and weighed 19st 9lbs.
He said his weight had been causing him a myriad of health problems.
"I was on medication for chronic gout and I could barely walk any distance because of the pain.
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"I also suffered from crippling anxiety – I was full of self-doubt and worried what people thought of me and hated having my picture taken.
"Although I know I’d have seemed confident at the time, especially professionally as I work from home in recruitment and my screen persona was always positive, in a way I felt quite isolated and inside I was nervous and felt people were judging me."
When he told his friends of his plight, they recommended Slimming World.
He said: "I was so fearful of joining, but I needn’t have been.
"I couldn’t believe I could eat foods like meat and chicken, rice, pasta, fruit and veg freely on the plan, without needing to count, weigh or measure them.
"Then I started listening to everyone else in the group and I realised I wasn’t alone.
"There’s something about being in a space together like that, where we all feel safe enough to talk about our habits and temptations, which is a great connecting factor.
"After trying to prove the eating plan wrong that first week and eating as much pasta as I could, I was amazed when I lost 11lbs."
Joe’s winning strategy for weight loss
Here we take a look at Joe’s food choices before and after he joined Slimming World.
Breakfast: Bacon and sausage sandwich on white bread with lots of butter and ketchup, greasy fry up at the weekends
Lunch: King size pot noodle and Pringles
Dinner: A lot of processed foods, take-away Chinese, fish and chips, Indian or kebab
Snacks: Pringles, crisps, bars of chocolate, sweets
Drinks: Sugary cup of tea, can of coke, fizzy drinks, full sugar energy drinks.
Breakfast: Baked beans on wholemeal toast with scrambled egg or bacon medallions
Lunch: Lunch pot from Slimming World’s food range at Iceland with extra vegetables
Dinner: Freshly cooked diet cola chicken with lots of vegetables and/or salad
Snacks: Individual packet of crisps, Freddo bar, low fat yoghurt
Drinks: 6-8 glasses of water a day, occasional vodka and diet coke
He added that the reaction from the rest of the group was so lovely and made him feel as though weight loss was doable.
"I wanted to do well for the group as much as I did for me," he said.
Joe, who now weighs 14st 7lbs, said that before joining the weight loss club, he would eat a lot of processed foods and takeaways.
"Now I’m never hungry and I make healthy versions of the food I ate before like a full English with bacon medallions and scrambled eggs using a low-fat cooking spray."
Joe's success at Slimming World comes as new research suggests that since the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are less socially connected to others.
Research by the brand found that this has lead to many people feeling more isolated.
It was previously revealed that during lockdowns, many Brits had gained weight.
'A LONELY PLACE'
Of those who gained weight, the research found that seven in 10 have tried to lose weight in the past two years, with almost half embarking on a weight loss campaign more than once.
These respondents were most likely to cite going it alone and using a weight loss or fitness app alone when asked how they attempted to slim.
Some 30 per cent of those who said they’d gained weight and 29 per cent of those with a BMI (body mass index) higher than 25, which sees them classed as overweight, said they have experienced bullying or discrimination because of their weight.
Of those respondents whose BMI categorised them as overweight or very overweight, 40 per cent said they avoided going out as a result of this bullying and discrimination and a third felt isolated.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Special Advisor on the Science of Weight Management at Slimming World, said: “After years of lockdowns and social distancing, it’s unsurprising that people are feeling less socially connected than ever before and missing that connection.
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"And struggling with your weight can be an especially lonely place to be.
"Technology played a vital role in keeping us in touch when we couldn’t be together in person, but there is no substitute for the benefits of real-life, face-to-face connection."
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