‘WE LOST 70KG IN A YEAR’
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
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.