She’d bat­tled with her weight for years but Ann Price didn’twant to be fat and 50, so she per­suaded her hus­band Ge­orge to join her on a diet

Friday - - Food Special -

S poon­ing in the last mouth­ful of egg-fried rice and fried chicken, I licked my lips. “De­li­cious,” I said. “I could eat that again.” My hus­band Ge­orge was ly­ing next to me on the sofa, tuck­ing into his take­away of burger and chips.

He smiled. “Well, or­der an­other one then,” he said, but I shook my head. I was still peck­ish but I couldn’t be both­ered to pick up the phone to get an­other Chi­nese meal de­liv­ered.

In­stead I looked for the re­mote con­trol and found it ly­ing on the floor. I bent over to get it, but re­alised it was an im­pos­si­ble task – my belly had bal­looned so much that I could barely reach be­yond my knees. I was 110kg, 1.6m and a size 24. I looked at Ge­orge, then at my­self. We were the def­i­ni­tion of couch pota­toes.

“Do you know what?” I asked Ge­orge. “I don’t want to be 50 and fat!’’ It was my birth­day in five months and I’d had enough. I’d been over­weight for so long, but now I wanted to change.

Ge­orge stopped eat­ing and looked at me. “I agree,” he said. He was 140kg, 1.8m and had a 127cm waist – and his 50th was com­ing up be­fore mine.

“Let’s do it,’’ he said. I nod­ded and vowed to start im­me­di­ately. We had to do some­thing – we couldn’t even walk to the end of the street with­out be­ing out of breath. We’d tried to diet be­fore but could never stick to it. But now I’d made up my mind and so had Ge­orge.

Weight was some­thing I’d al­ways strug­gled with, even as a child. I tried hard to keep to a healthy size, but with a busy life as a nurse – work­ing at Stone­house Hospi­tal near Glas­gow, Scot­land – I gave in to con­ve­nience food like greasy fish and chips too of­ten.

My weight bal­looned af­ter I mar­ried in 1984 and had a baby, Sarah-Jane. Sadly my mar­riage broke down when Sarah-Jane was just six-weeks old and I turned to food for com­fort.

For break­fast I would eat a huge bowl of sug­ary ce­real, then at lunch I’d have some­thing stodgy like cheesy mac­a­roni and chips from the can­teen at the hospi­tal where I worked.

On my way home I’d of­ten stop off at the petrol sta­tion for a snack – usu­ally a bag of crisps – and for din­ner I’d get ei­ther a take­away or a ready meal.

My work­ing hours were very er­ratic, and I was of­ten ex­hausted. I used to joke that the only ex­er­cise I took was walk­ing to the fridge to get a snack.

I wasn’t happy with the sit­u­a­tion. I’d tried diet af­ter diet – from raw food good, were com­fort­ing and I didn’t have to worry about cook­ing.

But as I watched my waist­line ex­pand from a UK size 14 to size 22 in less than three years, I knew I didn’t want to carry on this way.

I wanted to be a good role model to my daugh­ter. I also wanted to find my Mr Right and get mar­ried again, but who would be in­ter­ested in me at this size? I was sure I was too fat to love.

II wanted to get mar­ried but who’d be in­ter­ested in me at this size? I was sure I was too fat to love

to cab­bage soup to no carbs – but noth­ing seemed to work. I found them hard to stick to, and as I was of­ten tired, I didn’t have the willpower.

I wasn’t do­ing much ex­er­cise, but I was on my feet all day on the ward, so I came home ex­hausted.

I was too tired to cook, and so af­ter fin­ish­ing my shifts, I’d drop into the chip shop on the way home and pick up some­thing for tea. I ig­nored the fact that chips were fat­ten­ing – they tasted tried Scot­tish Slim­mers – a slim­ming club – and it was suc­cess­ful. I lost more than 20kg with them in about six months in 1989, but then I didn’t know how to main­tain a healthy weight, so it all piled back on.

I be­came so de­pressed about my size, I went back to the slim­ming club in 2000 and man­aged to lose 31kg. “Oh gosh, you look so dif­fer­ent,’’ a cousin who saw me for the first time in two years said.

I couldn’t stop smil­ing, and by 2002, I reached my tar­get weight of 51kg. It hadn’t been easy to con­trol my snack­ing, but I loved be­ing slim­mer and feel­ing great more than junk food.

I must have been more con­fi­dent and friendly, be­cause I started talk­ing to Ge­orge, who worked on my ward. I’d first met him in 1994 when he joined from an­other hospi­tal, and I was the sis­ter in charge of the op­er­at­ing theatre, and he was a staff nurse.

We were both mar­ried when we’d first met, but his mar­riage broke down

in 2000. He had a son, Scott, and we would of­ten talk about our chil­dren.

Ge­orge was big, but I didn’t mind his size. He was such a lovely per­son, and we spent hours talk­ing to­gether. I loved his com­pany.

One evening in 2002 the staff from our ward were go­ing out for some­one’s leav­ing party and we had a meal at a restau­rant and then went on to a club.

Ge­orge and I grav­i­tated to each other, as we al­ways seemed to, and by the end of the evening we were a cou­ple. It was a bit of a sur­prise, as we’d never let on that we liked each other.

We were to­gether for 10 months be­fore we told any­one at work.

I was happy. Ge­orge and I were so com­pat­i­ble, and I felt I’d found what was miss­ing in my life. Be­cause I was con­tent, I stopped be­ing so strict with my diet. I wanted to cook Ge­orge lovely din­ners, and we would eat out a lot.

Slowly the weight crept up un­til I was about 95kg again. In Jan­uary 2006, we went on hol­i­day to Frankfurt, Ger­many, and Ge­orge got down on one knee and pro­posed. ‘Will you be my wife?’ he asked. “Yes!’’ I replied, over­joyed, but was

We needed a push to lose some weight but nei­ther of us were strong enough to do it – un­til now…

sad when I re­alised I would have to buy a size 20 wed­ding dress.

We set a date for Novem­ber 2006, and sold our houses so we could buy a new one to­gether to start our new lives as a mar­ried cou­ple.

Our wed­ding day was lovely. Ge­orge wore a kilt – his waist was prob­a­bly about 116cm at that point. My dress was beau­ti­ful. It was long and cream, but I wore a match­ing floor-length long-sleeved jacket to cover up my fat arms. I knew I didn’t look my best.

Af­ter the wed­ding we spent all our time to­gether, eat­ing junk food. We both knew we were putting on weight, but Ge­orge and I tried to ig­nore it. We had to buy big­ger clothes but we were in de­nial.

We would eat toast and ce­real for break­fast, then have lunch at hospi­tal at the can­teen (snack­ing reg­u­larly in be­tween) and then at night we’d of­ten have a take­away – Chi­nese, fried chicken, burg­ers… we loved it all.

“I am sure they are mak­ing clothes smaller these days,’’ Ge­orge said, when he had to buy a 5XL shirt in­stead of a 2XL. He was over­weight all the time I knew him, but as a child and teenager he had been slim, he said. He was wor­ried about it.

We needed a push to lose some weight, but nei­ther of us were strong enough to do it – un­til now…

Be­cause I had tried Scot­tish Slim­mers be­fore, it seemed the ob­vi­ous choice to go back. We joined a class in Larkhall, south of Glas­gow.

We were given di­etary ad­vice and a pos­i­tive eat­ing plan to lose weight. With Scot­tish Slim­mers, you don’t count calo­ries but have checks in­stead. Each check is 25 calo­ries and depend­ing on your weight, you have a check al­lowance each day.

The recipe book has the checks’ value as well as how many grams of fat are in each dish, so you can keep an eye on your fat in­take too.

For ex­am­ple, por­ridge is four checks for 30g dry weight and 3g of fat.

“It’s up to you how you spend your checks,’’ the class man­ager said. It seemed straight­for­ward enough – we just needed to add up all the checks and as long as we didn’t go over our al­lot­ted num­ber, we’d lose weight.

“I think we can do this,’’ I said to Ge­orge.

I made sal­ads for us to take into work, and we had home-cooked meals for din­ner in­stead of take­aways. In the first week we both lost around 10kg each. It was all the in­cen­tive we needed to keep go­ing.

Ge­orge had to stop his Galaxy choco­late bar habit – he used to eat at least three a day – and I had to say no to the bag of crisps I’d been eat­ing ev­ery day. The weight started fall­ing off. It was such an easy diet to fol­low and we were never hun­gry.

In one year I lost nearly 30kg and Ge­orge lost 41kg. Happy, and feel­ing a bit more con­fi­dent, I de­cided to change my hair colour, and opted for blonde. I look com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Our friends call us the in­cred­i­ble shrink­ing cou­ple.

To date Ge­orge has lost 44kg and I’ve lost 31kg. I’m 78kg and a UK dress size 14 and Ge­orge is 101kg and now has an 86cm waist.

Do­ing it with Ge­orge has made such a big dif­fer­ence. We en­cour­age each other and he helps me stick to the plan.

When I lost weight be­fore, I didn’t know how to main­tain it, now I have learnt what I need to do; it’s quite sim­ple – I just need to keep go­ing, and not be dis­cour­aged and give up if I slip. And with Ge­orge by my side, I know we will be able to stay healthy.

Our kids – Sarah-Jane, 28, and Scott, 26, – are both slim, and they love the healthy food we cook.

It is amaz­ing to be wear­ing nor­mally sized clothes, and we have a whole new lease of life. Ge­orge and I used to just veg­e­tate in front of the TV af­ter work, but now we go out and have just started jive lessons.

We both need to lose even more weight – my tar­get weight is 59kg. To­gether we’ve lost 70kg – which is the weight of a per­son!

It was my 50th birth­day last July. It was a great cel­e­bra­tion, but it was fan­tas­tic to have hit 50 and be thin.

I’ve also re­alised that there’s noth­ing you can’t do if you set your mind to it and have a goal.

Ann Price lives in Larkhall, Scot­land.

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