A Kilmarnock super slimmer says he is no longer a prisoner in his own body after shedding 12 stone.
In two years, Garry Russell has gone from 25-and-a-half stone to 13-and-a-half stone after joining Slimming World.
He decided to give the weight-loss group a try after reading about many success stories in the area — and seeing pictures of food that looked like everyday meals.
Garry found the support offered both practical and encouraging and has enjoyed following Slimming World’s food optimising eating plan, based on the science of satiety and energy density — enabling him to enjoy generous portions of healthy food to satisfy his appetite, so he didn’t have to go hungry.
And he told how a condition which caused the healthy parts of his body to attack the immune system was a wake-up call in fighting the flab.
“I have been overweight for most of my adult life,” said Garry. “Even when I left secondary school, I was definitely a couple of stone overweight.
“Things started getting much worse at the age of 27 when I was diagnosed with a condition called Granulomatosis with Polyangitis. The condition causes the immune system to attack healthy parts of the body and can sometimes be fatal.
“I was fortunate enough that it was detected early enough but at 35 I was hospitalised. I had to stop working and begin taking a daily cocktail of medication, which included a very high dosage of steroids.
“Thankfully, the medication worked and put my condition into remission — but my life had been turned upside down in the process.
“In the space of five years, I had gone from 15-and-a-half stone to 26-and-a-half stone. I had been comfort eating and living a very sedentary lifestyle and snacking out of boredom.”
Garry had resigned himself to being overweight for the rest of his life.
He felt he had too much weight to lose and, at 40 years old, was worried he was too late to make any changes.
The turning point came when, after a visit to the doctor, Garry needed to have an angiogram to check for a suspected heart problem but was too heavy to have the procedure. He then looked for his local Slimming World group.
“It was nerve-wracking walking through those doors for the first time so my sister came with me,” recalled Garry.
“The plan was to go for a few weeks and get to grips with the plan but that’s not how things ended up working out.
“Now I look forward to going to my Slimming World group. There is so much support, laughter and positivity in group and most importantly, never any judgement.
“I am so proud that I have managed to navigate family birthdays, Christmases, New Years and other events and still managed to lose 12 stone and achieve my target weight.”
As the weight came off, Garry found he had more energy, so he was eager to use it.
“One of the stand-out moments for me was when we were at a family barbecue and I was playing bat and ball with my niece,” said Garry.
“My oldest niece hit the ball away and I went to get it.
“When I turned round, my niece was excited because it was the first time she had seen me run.”
Garry has changed his life — even successfully climbing to the top of Ben Lomond — and now no longer needs the angiogram because his consultants couldn’t believe his transformation. They say his heart is now functioning normally due to his weight loss.
Specialists think he may be able to come off the steroids for his condition.
He added: “If you become a member of Slimming World, you are simply learning a healthier way to prepare and enjoy food, which before long becomes second nature.”
Visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk if you would like to find out the details of your local group.