WW: This is about so much more than losing weight

From a life-changing commitment to a confidence-booster like no other, here’s what happened when these reluctant dieters lost 20 stone between them…

‘Doing this together has made us closer’

 Andri Ford, 31, and Mo Osman, 33, live in Essex and both work in secondary schools. They’ve been together for 16 years and chart their weight loss journey on their Instagram account @ww_losinglbs_together

Andri Start weight: 15st 5 1/2lb Current weight: 11st 7lb
Mo Start weight: 17st 5lb Current weight: 12st 10lb

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Victoria Adamson

ANDRI’S STORY

Looking through holiday photos after a trip to Dubai in 2018 was my wake-up call. I didn’t think I was overweight but my size had gradually spiralled out of control. Seeing how I really looked, I knew it was time to make a change.

My health insurer had an introductory offer for WW, Weight Watchers Reimagined, so I gave it a go. My first weigh-in was a shock. I panicked when I saw the numbers on the scale. My WW coach Angela went over the plan, encouraging me to take it step by step and not rush into starving myself. By the end of the meeting I felt excited but anxious about telling my partner Mo. I knew it would be hard for me to stick to the plan if he continued eating the same way. He didn’t think he needed to lose weight and though I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, I knew we both needed to do this. To persuade him to join, I said that I really needed his support, and gently mentioned how improving our health was important. He was sceptical at first, but could see how much this meant to me and he signed up the following week. 

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Andri before

We bought kitchen scales as our pitfall was portion control. If we had pasta for dinner we just ate to our hearts’ content. The first time we weighed a portion of pasta we thought there’s no way that’s going to fill us up. But we learned to bulk it up with vegetables.

On bad days it was tempting to give up, but if I came home and fancied a slice of chocolate cake, Mo would say, ‘Do you really want to spend your points on that tonight?’ Or, ‘If we’re going to treat ourselves to cake let’s go for a run first.’ We encouraged each other to earn it. Away from home, the trickiest thing was resisting the office biscuits. Every time I made a cup of tea, I’d grab a handful. I had to ask my colleagues not to leave the packet by my desk but when they saw me losing weight (I lost my first stone in five weeks) they wanted to support me. 

Mo and I love eating out, and being with WW hasn’t stopped us doing that. Yes, we might treat ourselves to a dessert but we won’t overindulge the next day. We go running and swimming or exercise together at the gym. It’s good to have couple activities that don’t involve food. 

I’ve gone from an 18 dress size to a ten. But the biggest change has been in my self-esteem. Now I feel more confident walking down the school corridors. I’m much more self-assured, both professionally and socially. 

Without Mo I would have found it difficult to sustain my weight loss. We aren’t competitive about it but I do get jealous when we both eat the same food and he loses weight at a faster rate. Doing this together has made our relationship stronger, and we’re happier because we’re both more confident in ourselves. We got engaged in October in Venice; this time I was very happy with our holiday photos.

MO’S STORY 

The excitement on Andri’s face when she came back from her first WW meeting sold it to me. At first I did it just to support her, but it’s been the best choice I’ve ever made. Like a lot of people, I hadn’t faced up to the reality of my weight. I didn’t enjoy shopping for clothes but other than that I was numb to it all. I didn’t realise the impact my weight was having on my wellbeing. It wasn’t until I started losing weight that I could admit I hadn’t been happy. 

I was apprehensive about going to the first meeting but was taken aback at how positive and inspiring the group was. I was one of two men, which was a little weird. I did worry: is this emasculating? I didn’t tell my friends to begin with, but they could see the weight coming off me. Reluctant to mention WW, I’d say, ‘Oh I’m just on a health kick.’ But as my confidence grew, I told them the truth. I was proud to be part of it. 

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Mo before

Understanding how food affects your body and mood has been an education. I learned that making straightforward changes – eating more fruit and veg, cooking with less oil, cutting down on salt and sugar – has huge consequences. I realised my body was like a car: I’d been filling it with diesel instead of petrol. It was still running but the mechanics inside weren’t good. Now I’ve improved the fuel, I’ve lost nearly five stone (I haven’t been this waist size since I was 12!) and feel much happier. Losing weight is an emotional journey as much as a physical one.

Doing WW together has 100 per cent made our relationship better. Throughout the process, we’ve picked each other up on bad days and reminded each other of how far we’ve come. Andri and I have been together for 16 years but she is more attractive to me today than she’s ever been. It’s like we had blinkers on and now we really see ourselves. I don’t think I could have done it without her: and that’s been the essence of it – we’ve done this together.

‘I feel ten years younger’

Jo Dalby, 35, works as cabin crew for an airline. She lives in Ilkeston, Derbyshire with her husband and two-year-old son.

Start weight: 20st Current weight: 13st 4lb

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Victoria Adamson

In 2017 I was lying on a hospital trolley waiting to have an emergency caesarean. There were five doctors standing around me, working out my BMI and how they could lift me off the bed on to the operating table. In that moment I knew I didn’t want to be so big any more.

I was already overweight when I became pregnant. I’d got into a habit of having takeaways – a McDonald’s for lunch then an Indian for dinner. It was ridiculous what I was eating and spending. Then I put on more weight during my pregnancy. I ate a lot partly because I felt so anxious – I’d suffered a miscarriage the year before. 

When my baby Jake arrived safely, I realised I didn’t want to be a big mum. I wanted to be healthy for him. I didn’t like being out of control with food, buying a bag of doughnuts and eating them by the end of the day. So in February 2018, when Jake was ten weeks old, I joined WW. My friend had lost five stone on the plan so I thought I’d give it a try. 

At my first meeting I cried when I saw the number on the scale: 20 stone. I had to lose seven stone to get to a healthy weight and it seemed like a huge mountain to climb. But Sally, my WW coach, said, ‘You’re here now and you’ve made the right choice. Let’s just get that number lower.’ And I did: I ditched the takeaways, swapped pizzas for salads and used my slow cooker to make healthy meals from scratch. It didn’t take up too much time; I just threw in the ingredients and put it on.

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Jo before

A switch had flicked in my head. It’s like after Christmas, when you’ve eaten everything and all you want is veg. I was really ready to change. And I had Jake as my motivation. I was conscious that he would start eating solids eventually, and I didn’t want him to see me eating the way I had and learning bad habits. I split my weight loss into chunks. First I focused on getting to my pre-baby weight (16 stone), then took it stone by stone. I went back to work when Jake was 14 months old.

I don’t think I could have gone back to my job if I hadn’t lost weight. I couldn’t face asking for a bigger uniform. And being cabin crew, people are looking at you all the time – there’s an image you have to live up to. 

Today I am just four pounds off my goal weight of 13 stone. I can’t physically eat the massive portions that I used to. Now, if I do have a takeaway, I don’t feel guilty. I can still have a pizza on WW – but instead of ordering a large Domino’s, I will have a small one. I’ve started exercising – I love hula hooping – and I feel younger than I did ten years ago. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Looking back, I had let myself go. I just didn’t care any more. But that’s not who I am. I want to go out, get dressed up and look nice. I feel like myself again.

‘I see my reflection and think, “wow, is that really me?”’

Kellie Corrigan, 40, works in insurance. She lives in Glasgow and has three sons: a 13-year-old and 11-year-old twins. 

Start weight: 12st 4lb Current weight: 9st 3lb

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Victoria Adamson

My turning point was my 36th birthday. I had to squeeze into a size 18 dress to go out for dinner and I was miserable; I was bursting out of it. I felt so uncomfortable that instead of having cocktails afterwards, I went home to take off my ‘Bridget Jones knickers’ and get into my pyjamas. 

I’d always had a horrible relationship with food. I would use any excuse to ‘reward’ myself. I’d tried to lose weight before – I’d go on a diet, lose a stone, then put the weight back on plus more. But I felt so bad the day after that awful birthday something inside me snapped. I needed to learn healthy habits I could stick to and realised I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed the group support that WW offered. Three days later I went to my first workshop.

The game-changer for me was using the WW app. I had a daily allowance of points and before I ate anything I’d enter it into the app to check its value. It helped me feel in control around food and forced me to make conscious decisions about what I ate. Rather than scoffing a family-sized bag of crisps without thinking, I could see exactly how many of my points it would wipe out. I learned that it’s all about choices. Do I really want to eat this? Or do I want to make a choice that’s better for my health? Nine times out of ten, I’d prefer to make a healthy choice, even if it’s something tiny, like taking sweetener in my tea instead of sugar. 

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Kellie before

I lost almost four stone, then I went from working part-time to full-time in 2016. Along with looking after my sons and doing the chores, I struggled to keep going to the weekly WW meetings and eventually gave up on the plan. By Christmas 2018 I had put the weight back on. 

I rejoined WW last January, and this time I thought: ‘I need to put myself first.’ I realised that I had to take an hour a week to go to my workshop. To stay on track, it’s important to talk with other women who’re on the same journey. There are people in my group who are 19 and others who are in their 70s but we all face the same challenges. I had to learn to be strict and say, ‘No, I can’t do that on a Tuesday because I need to go to my workshop.’ In 2019 I only missed two meetings and now I’m at my goal weight. 

I used to feel I wasn’t worth as much as other people and I didn’t deserve the same opportunities. Now I’ll put my hand up at work to volunteer for things I want to do. When I look in the mirror I feel fantastic. Even my sons have noticed I’m not in leggings and baggy jumpers all the time. I had a leather skirt that I couldn’t get into for ages; I tried it on last week and now it’s too big. Sometimes I see my reflection and think, ‘Wow, is that really me?’

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As told to Hanna Woodside