After a Christmas spent indulging in box upon box of chocolate, glasses of mulled wine and more second helpings than an advent calendar has windows, our nation moves into diet overload.
For one couple however, the desire to lose a few pounds became a genuine ‘life or death’ scenario.
Eighteen months ago, Fiona and Stuart Martin, from Portchester, decided the time was right to cover themselves with a life insurance policy.
But they were shocked and horrified when their cover was rejected because of Stuart’s health.
He was obese, weighing 32 stone, and this pivotal moment spurred them both into a weight-loss journey.
Now, a staggering 17 stone lighter, the husband and wife are able to reflect on this journey which has taken them from health fears to a bright new future.
‘We just realised how important making the changes were,’ Fiona says.
‘We would have to plan our days out – if we wanted to use a restaurant we had to make sure their furniture would take our weight.
‘Or if we were going out for the day we would bring our own seats in case we wanted a break – it became a really difficult process.’
She adds: ‘Once Stuart got turned down for a life insurance policy we knew we had to draw a line under it and get our bodies back.’
At this point Fiona was also overweight, tipping the scales at 18 stone.
The pair signed up for Slimming World and in just 18 months, Fiona has lost more than six stone and Martin an incredible 11 stone.
‘It’s Stuart I’m most proud of as when he went to the first meeting there were only one or two other men in the class.
‘But I explained it’s important to go to them for ideas on how to lose weight,’ Fiona says.
‘It must have been hard for him to be around 30 women and to begin with he would just listen and keep quite quiet.
‘But his confidence has come on incredibly.
‘He chats away now and has even joined his son’s local Army Cadet troop as an adult instructor.’
Stuart, who works as a course designer at Federal School for Engineering with his wife, reflects: ‘It was pretty tough at first, I had to bottle it up and face my fears.
‘But it has encouraged my colleagues to go out and lose weight too because they look and think “if he can do it, so can I”.
‘It’s dramatically changed my life as I could hardly walk 200m before. But now with the Army Cadets I went on a 15-mile walk to Hayling Island.’
Slimming World is a slimming organisation that offers seven-day nutrition and meal planners, regular meetings and trained consultants to offer advice to its members.
More than 700,000 members attend weekly groups across the UK as they battle the blubber.
And thanks to their new way of structured eating, the Martins don’t miss their old junk food ways.
‘Stuart is a typical male – he likes his meat such as burgers and sausages,’ says Fiona.
‘But we both love Indian takeaways.
‘Thanks to Slimming World we can still enjoy them, we just make them from scratch.
‘If we want a chicken korma or a chicken tikka we can have one, we just make it.
‘Of course there’s always that urge to get a takeaway if we can’t get out of the office in time to make dinner, but we are firm with it.
‘It’s all about taking the guilt away from eating – sometimes people do it emotionally.
‘But the most important thing is doing it when the time is right.’
Stuart continues: ‘Thanks to Slimming World I haven’t had to miss out on any of the foods I love because there is always an alternative.
‘For example if I want a kebab, they have recipes to make a healthier, tastier one. They have Slimming World solutions for everything.’
Latest health surveys suggest that more than half of the adult population are reported to be overweight or obese.
The Foresight report in 2007 estimated that in the UK alone more than 60 per cent of males would be obese if current trends continue.
So as the UK continues its attempts to firm up, what’s Fiona’s secret?
‘Make the right choices and don’t lie to yourself,’ she says.
‘When you are shoving that bit of chocolate in your mouth, don’t pretend that you needed it – you didn’t.
‘Stick with it. It took me 48 years to get to the weight that I was, so if it takes two or three more to get rid of it, it’s got to be worth it.’
Fiona feels it’s important to remember to treat yourself on special occasions and celebrate the big milestones that come with dieting and life.
Father’s Day last month was one such occasion because their two sons have now both become adults.
Fiona says: ‘It hit us both the other day when we were moving house.
‘We looked through all of our old clothes and just couldn’t believe we used to fit them, so we went out on a massive clothes shop to spoil ourselves.
‘It’s nice to think if I see something I like for Stuart to wear, I can buy it without any worries about his weight.’
Slimming World is a UK-wide brand and there are many groups across the area.
The Martins attend Carole Harris’s meeting at Portchester Methodist Church, in Castle Street, every Tuesday at either 5.30pm or 7.30pm.
The meetings usually last an hour. To find your local group go to slimmingworld.com.