'I've got my self confidence back' - Norfolk man ditches burgers and pizza and loses 7 stone
PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:36 04 January 2020
Encouraged by his mum, in December 2018 Daniel Fitzsimmons joined Slimming World - and a year on he has dropped a third of his body weight.
A year ago Daniel, 22, a process engineer in a factory at Wymondham, mostly ate takeaways for dinner and fast food for lunch. "Pizza, burgers curries. Very rarely we would have a home cooked meal. My work lunch was normally a pasty from Morrisons or a McDonalds as it was only down the road," he says.
His weight had reached 20 stone and he suffered from aches and pains, but the turning point came when he bought a hoodie, expecting it to fit, but it was too small. Enough was enough. It was time for a change.
"I'd always known about Slimming World - my mum had been going for a while," he says. "She suggested joining the Slimming World group she went to in Hethersett, with Kimberly Read as a consultant."
Daniel, from Attleborough, says that he wasn't too worried about the first meeting, because his mum was already a member, but admits "I was a little sceptical".
"Kimberly started by sitting me down and explaining to me the details of the plan, and asking me what I would normally eat, and suggesting things to change them out with. After that, it was as normal as any other group. Get weighed, and sit down for image therapy."
He says that the group was very supportive, which was a great help.
"The rest of the group were always so kind. They are to everyone. Whenever I would get a loss, even if some of them had have a gain, they would be really happy for me. They made it very clear that the group is about everyone, not just ourselves."
Slimming World's eating plan has three main categories. The first is Free Food, which people can eat as much of as they want. These foods are filling and low in calories for their weight, such as lean meat, eggs, fish, pasta, fruit and vegetables.
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The second is Healthy Extras, which provide a good balance of nutrients, such as milk and cheese for calcium, wholemeal bread and breakfast cereals for fibre and other minerals and nuts and seeds for healthy oils.
And the third group is the one that the Slimming World plan is perhaps best known for - the Syns. These foods, which are the least filling and higher in calories, such as biscuits, sweets and alcohol, have a points value. The thinking is that if people can enjoy a little of what they fancy - for example, a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine, there will be less temptation to go off track.
"Every Syn food has a numerical value - a Curly Wurly is six points and a Daim Bar seven. As a man, I had 25 points a day," says Daniel. "Women have 15."
As Daniel explains, the Slimming World approach to weight loss includes educating members about food.
"One of my big changes was making a better choice from takeaways," he says. "I went from pizzas at the kebab shop, to a lamb shish kebab, which is grilled meat and a lot healthier. And I'd have tandoori grilled food from an Indian takeaway and boiled rice instead of fried rice from the Chinese takeaway. At work I get sushi or a pasta salad from a shop, or something similarly healthy and I try to eat a lot more lower Syn snacks, or fruits when I have them. I still snack quite regularly but it's not very often that I have something that goes too far out of my Syn limit.
"I'm not particularly great at cooking, but I'm doing it a lot more than before, so I'm getting better it. I follow Slimming World recipes," he adds.
And support was always there if it was needed.
"Kimberly was always available. Personally, I never really needed much support. Most of the times that I had a 'gain' or a 'maintain', I would know the reason why, but I know that other people did struggle, and Kimberly would stay behind and talk to them, or be available via call or text no matter what day. It was very clear that she wanted this for us."
Daniel reached his target of losing seven stone on his 52nd week at Slimming World - and the result of his weightloss has not just been physical.
"I have lost 12 inches around the waist, I feel a lot less laboured when I get up in the morning and my back has mostly stopped hurting. The weight loss has made me more socially confident - I generally feel more accepted around people," he says.
"If you're thinking of joining a Slimming World group, I'd say just do it. You don't need to lose the weight as fast as I did, and if you happen to struggle, the group are so supportive. They don't make you feel like a bad person, they make you feel appreciated."