A couple lost a combined 17st when their weight prevented them from not being able to play with their three children.
Nicola and Chris Guilfoyle, from Tipperary, Ireland, got their wake-up call when they realised they stopped going out as a couple because they were uncomfortable with their size and would only watch their children play instead of joining in.
They joined Slimming World in January 2020 and have lost an incredible 17st and 9.5lbs – and have been named Slimming World's Couple of the Year 2021.
Nicola said they turned to food for comfort when navigating the challenges following their youngest daughter's autism diagnosis.
Nicola and Chris Guilfoyle, from Tipperary, Ireland joined Slimming World in January 2020
The 36-year-old also said she was once asked to get off a ride at a park when the safety bar wouldn't fit over her stomach.
When Nicola was at her heaviest she said she had to wear sliders because her feet were too swollen.
Nicola, who had lost more than 12st, said: "Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was 2½ years old, she’s doing fabulously now, but it was difficult, to begin with, and Chris and I used food as comfort.
“I remember taking my daughter to Drayton Manor and being asked to get off a ride as the safety bar wouldn’t fit over my stomach.
"I laughed it off at the time, but on the inside, I was distraught that my young child had to ride alone, and that I was missing these precious moments with her.
Before embarking on their weightloss journey, the couple did not exercise and now they enjoy going for family walks
"I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been when I joined Slimming World, and I used to find even minor things that people take for granted difficult, such as tying my own shoelaces, so I’d wear sliders as my feet were so painful and swollen.”
Chris, also 36, joined Slimming World with Nicola to improve his health.
The dad, who lost 5st 1.5lbs, said: "Nicola told me she wanted to join, and I needed to lose weight, so I agreed to go with her.
"We joined Slimming World in January 2020 and I thought I might lose a few pounds but didn’t realise how much I’d be able to eat with Slimming World and still lose weight.
"I was quite cynical when I first heard about Food Optimising and the list of Free Food that you could eat without restriction. Then we went back to the group after a week for our first weigh-in and I’d lost 7.5lbs and Nicola had lost 8lbs. Since then we’ve never looked back.”
The couple says their Slimming World group were welcoming and supportive of everyone's weight loss journey.
They started to take little walks to exercise and have since joined a gym.
Nicola added: "When we first joined, I felt exercising very uncomfortable, I got breathless very quickly and was afraid of doing myself an injury, so I just didn’t do any. Through the support of my family and Consultant, we gradually introduced little walks into our day.
Before losing weight, Nicola said she was not able to go on rides with her daughter because the safety bar would not go over her stomach
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"We gradually increased the distance we walked and now you can’t stop us. We go on long walks with the children and we’ve even joined a gym!”
The family have swapped takeaways for homecooked meals and say it doesn't feel like a sacrifice.
Chris, who is a retail manager, said: “I prepare my breakfast the night before, which my youngest daughter loves to help with, and I’m really enjoying the homecooked dinners Nicola adapts to make them the Slimming World way, like swapping fatty meats for leaner cuts of meat.
Our favourites are the diet cola chicken and lamb biriyani.”
"I used to suffer from constant heartburn and acid reflux to the point where I would vomit when I lay down, but that has gone away since I lost weight.
"Due to lockdown people hadn’t seen me for months, but once restrictions started to ease, the other parents in the schoolyard didn’t recognise me at first as I’ve lost so much weight. I feel a lot more confident in myself now.”
Now the couple is looking forward to taking a holiday together.
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Chris added: “When we were overweight Nicola and I couldn’t even sit next to each other on an aeroplane we were so big.
"Now we’re looking forward to planning holidays together as a family and enjoying doing things we were never able to do before, creating memories with our children that will last a lifetime.”