Diets. Quite a daunting word; the common assumption being that in order to successfully diet you have to cut out all your favourite foods and have the same intake as a sparrow.
But Phillip Prophett is one of the many people showing that you can still enjoy amazing food, get fit and feel better from it.
The 42-year-old supermarket manager from Portchester lost an incredible five stone in just 16 months.
Phillip had tried diets in the past but felt they weren’t really successful, but that was until he tried Slimming World, which encouraged him to start eating healthily – and to put on his running shoes.
He said: ‘At Christmas 2013 I saw a photo of myself and it was horrible, I realised I had to do something about this.’
The previous year his work colleague had lost a lot of weight doing Slimming World and he seemed to have kept the weight off so Phillip thought he’d give it a try.
Being a man, Phillip said he was initially quite daunted about walking into the group, in Portchester, although when he did he was pleasantly surprised.
He said the thought of talking about his weight – nearly 18 stone – in front of a group was quite daunting, but in fact it was not really that scary.
Phillip, who is 5ft 10in, said: ‘It’s quite daunting at first, but you are made to feel really welcome and looked after.
‘The consultant is always at the end of the phone if you need to chat and there’s a Facebook page on which members can discuss everything.
‘It’s actually a friendly, supportive place.’
Slimming World works through a diet plan, with certain foods encouraged, and then weekly support meetings.
Phillip, who now weighs 12st 7lb, said: ‘Slimming World had a straightforward plan to follow; it included more fruit and vegetables, lean meat, lots of liquid and of course limited fat and sugar.’
Unlike some diets, Phillip didn’t have to cut out sugars and fats altogether; instead enjoying treats in moderation.
And he’s been enjoying getting to grip with recipes in the kitchen, particularly making meals from scratch and finding alternative ways to cook unhealthy dishes like chips and curries.
‘There are lots of recipes, thousands maybe,’ he said.
‘Slimming World chips are lovely and I will eat them over normal chips now.
‘There are ways around most foods as most recipes have a Slimming World alternative.
‘Today I made a cottage pie; there are curries, you can have a cooked breakfast as long as you eat the right sausages and cut the fat off the bacon.
‘You can have a roast dinner as long as you eat the right meat, you get a lot of options.’
He’s also found that cooking in bulk means he steers clear of the quick and easy – but full of fat – ready meals.
‘I found that I like to batch cook foods,’ he said.
‘Then I always have something to hand to eat because I find that if you don’t have something to hand to eat you might go for something you shouldn’t.’
Phillip stressed the importance of going to the meetings, as it made him push that bit harder to lose the weight.
He said: ‘I told myself “I’ve got to lose the weight because I’m going to the meeting”.
‘It just pushes you to want to lose weight every week.’
Not only did Phillip start eating healthier food, but he also began doing simple exercises, encouraged by the plan and its ‘body magic’ scheme.
He said: ‘I downloaded an audio book on to my phone and went walking along the seafront.
‘I then started seeing people running along it and thought I’d give it a go as it looked quite fun.’
Now nearly two years later, Phillip has run four half marathons, and he has a further two races lined up – the Potteries Marathon in Stoke-on-Trent in July and the London Marathon next year.
He says that what started off as simple exercise has been transformed into a dedication to an enduring sport.
His family and friends are over the moon with his success, and Phillip has even inspired his father-in-law and work colleagues to join Slimming World.
Phillip says he is now enjoying being fitter, healthier and surprising people with his weight loss.
He said: ‘It’s quite fun seeing somebody you haven’t seen for a few months and when you say hello they double take at you.
‘I feel better about myself and more confident now.
‘In the past if anyone used to tag me in a picture on Facebook I would un-tag myself or delete it, but now I’m happy to have photos.
‘And when I walk past a mirror I don’t run past it I’m happy with what I see.’
Founded in 1982, Slimming World offers group support and online support.
It gives its members a Food Optimising plan (which caters to those with special dietary requirements) and lifestyle activity programme, its Body Magic booklet.
Developed in line with government recommendations, the weight loss organisation encourages members to build their exercise routines up to a moderate intensity level for at least five days a week.
Members are then rewarded for their efforts with awards that come in bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
The organisation uses ‘IMAGE’ (Individual Motivation And Group Experience) therapy to tackle the psychological behaviours and limitations that members might have regarding food and exercise.
The progress of strategies put in place by consultants are then discussed in weekly group meetings where support is provided by peers and professionals.
Adolescent groups are also available free of charge for 11 to 15-year-olds whose parents or guardians are members of Slimming World or if the adolescent is referred by their GP or nurse.
As well as adolescent groups, Slimming World is the only national weight management organisation in the UK to provide healthy lifestyle support for breastfeeding and expectant mothers.
Average members lose around 8 per cent of their weight in six months and around 13 per cent in a year.
It costs £10 to join, with a weekly fee of £4.95. There are discounts and special offers available, see groups for details. To find your local group go to slimmingworld.com
Phillip lost his weight at his local Slimming World group in Portchester.
This group is run by Slimming World consultant Carole Harris. She holds sessions across two venues, over two days.
* Portchester Methodist Church, Castle Street – Wednesday 9am, and Tuesday 5.30pm and 7.30pm
* Portchester Parish Hall, Castle Street – Tuesday 9am, 11am and 1pm
For more details call 07776 005221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.