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WINTER 2011 £3.20







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Cover girl Diane Michelson



‘From size 22 to 10 in just 5 months!’

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“Since losing w I’ve become q FROM DRESS SIZE


DIANE MICHELSON, 36, lives in Cambridge, with husband, Chris, and her two children: Jade, five, and Jett, three. She works from home as a baker and has maintained her weight for over a year.


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g weight over a year ago, quite the exhibitionist!”


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iane Michelson had tried diet after diet but couldn’t shift the weight from her size 22 figure. Then the vivacious mum-of-two discovered LighterLife and changed her relationship with food for ever. As I tipped a big portion of cake mixture into a baking tin I felt the familiar rush of anticipation. I then reached into the mixing bowl with a spoon, and began scraping at the streaks of batter left behind in the bowl. Then came my ritualistic licking of the spoon. It brought back memories of cleaning the bowl when my mother used to bake back home in Cape Town. I knew I shouldn’t be tucking in because I’d been struggling with my weight for years. I was caught in a cycle of dieting with little success, and it was exhausting. BAKER’S DELIGHT

Diane (above) at her heaviest weight of 16st 7Ib. ‘I felt lethargic and bloated,’ she says. ‘Now, of course, it’s a different story.’

Of course, I had the perfect excuse to overeat. I’d started up a little baking business from home after having my two children, Jade, now five and Jett, three. I took great pride in creating beautiful cakes of every size and description. I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen; my mother and grandmother were often in the kitchen baking and I associate the smell of freshly baked food with family occasions. But I could easily consume several cupcakes’ worth of ingredients in one day. To make matters worse, I was always baking fattening things for the family to enjoy – cakes, scones, biscuits and pastries. It was only when I joined LighterLife that I learned that this was classic ‘feeder’ behaviour. I felt that by giving all these delicious things to my husband and children I was showing them love, when I was being over-generous with the portions to say the least. POOR BODY IMAGE

I first became conscious of my size when my mother enrolled me in a prestigious ballet school at the age of nine. I loved dancing and looked forward to going to lessons. But there was this unspoken pressure to be thin. It was very much like the modelling industry, I suppose. If you were really skinny, the teachers praised you more. I never felt I was slim enough.



At 21, I married my lovely husband Chris. We’d been high school sweethearts and to this day I consider him my soulmate. I felt beautiful on my wedding day in a size 10 dress. But, gradually, as the years went by, my weight crept up. I suppose my contentment in my marriage meant I wasn’t paying as much attention to my figure as I might have done. Then, in 2000, the situation took a turn for the worse. I went from a size 14 to a size 24 in the space of just 12 months. It really was quite dramatic. Looking back, I realise that I was turning to food and overeating for emotional reasons. Chris and I had moved to the suburbs in our home city of Cape Town and left a neighbourhood in which we had good friends. In addition to that, our dog was seriously injured and it was touch and go for quite a while. To top it all off, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was tired, tearful and anxious. It wasn’t like me. Thankfully, I found an excellent acupuncturist who helped me recover emotionally. But I remained a size 24. DIETING DISASTERS

Over the course of ten years I was constantly on and off diets. I tried everything – the Cabbage Soup Diet, Atkins and many more. I couldn’t make them work. I’d lose a few pounds and then put them all back on again. My husband was very loving and he never said anything negative about my body, but I knew I was obese and I felt trapped. I just couldn’t get the weight off. It would take just one bad day or a stressful phone call and I’d overindulge in chocolate or cakes. I was 14st 7Ib when I fell pregnant with my daughter, Jade. But I didn’t put on too much extra weight during the pregnancy. I then fell pregnant with my son, Jett, 17 months after Jade’s birth. I cut down on my calorie intake after both births and managed to get back down to my prepregnancy weight. But my weight seemed to stay around that mark indefinitely. In June 2008, my family and I left South Africa and settled in Cambridge. It was around that time I visited a South African friend, Roelien, in Reading. She’d lost a lot of weight with LighterLife, which was really inspiring, and I knew at some point I’d need to tackle my own weight again. But although I admired her efforts, I was still breastfeeding my son and I just wasn’t ready. ➳

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I was caught in a cycle of dieting with little success and it was exhausting

fashion forward

I used to wear baggy T-shirts and leggings. My clothes were designed to hide my shape. Now it’s wonderful to pour myself into these tailored, elegant dresses and heels. Thanks to plenty of gym workouts I don’t mind showing off my toned arms and legs, either – it feels great.

in the spotlight Diane wears White Shirt £15, Florence & Fred @ Tesco; Pencil Skirt £30, Tu @ Sainsbury’s; Shoes £45, Very @ Littlewoods; Necklace £25, Betty Jackson @ Debenhams

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DIANE’S STARRING ROLE : Diane starred in our new LighterLife Total advert, which you can view at ‘It was amazing. I loved the whole experience,’ she says. ‘I would never have had the confidence – let alone the body – to do something like that before and wear such a slinky dress. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and I’ve got the video for keeps.’

STRIKE A POSE Diane wears Dress £34.99, Marisota; Belt £9.99, Matalan; Necklace £25, Betty Jackson @ Debenhams; Sandals £24.99, Peacocks

The catalyst for joining LighterLife came in the summer of 2009. I’d joined a local community dance group for women called the Geoff Bailey Dancers. Although I was now a size 22, I was so happy dancing away with the others. But when I realised we were being lined up to do a series of public performances around town, I was horrified. I didn’t want to dance in public and wear costumes at my size. I fled to my friend in Reading for some moral support. She had been maintaining her figure really well for over three years with LighterLife. That weekend, she and her husband chatted to me at length about the programme because they could see I was desperate to change. I worked out that if I stuck to LighterLife I would get into a size 12 dance costume by Christmas. That was it – my lightbulb moment! I knew I had to give it a go. Luckily, my husband Chris was really supportive of the idea. Within weeks I’d dropped a dress size, and the women at my dance group were paying me compliments and marvelling at the change in my appearance. An added bonus was that my sister-in-law Joanne, 30, was doing LighterLife Lite – and she was in the Geoff Bailey Dancers, too. She went from a size 18 to a size 10, while I went from a size 22 to a size 10. We supported each other all the way and became very close. We now feel more like sisters than sisters-in-law. BOUNDARIES

I was anxious about cutting out conventional food on LighterLife Total, yet I adjusted incredibly well. Once I started Total it was a relief not having to think about what to eat, how to prepare it and when to stop consuming. The boundaries were very clear. Admittedly, I was afraid my baking business would test my discipline. Would I be able to

My number one tip for long-term success is to keep on going to LighterLife Management groups after you reach your desired weight


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cover story resist licking the spoon clean? Then, one day, my Counsellor, Kate Smith, said, ‘Why do you have to be a slave to that behaviour?’ She had a very good point, and next time I baked I felt empowered and thought: ‘I have a choice here – I don’t have to lick the spoon any more.’ It felt great. GROUP SUPPORT

To my mind, what makes LighterLife unique is the support and group activities, which helped me look at the emotional reasons why I used to overeat. In the past, I’d been on other weight-loss plans, some of which held weekly meetings, but none were a patch on the LighterLife groups, which went much deeper because the groups were much smaller and more focused, and the work we did was so much more life-changing. I realised that I’d historically been a classic ‘people pleaser’. I’d always wanted everyone around me to be happy, and hated conflict. When I failed to achieve that, the stress would lead me to eat. If I hurt someone’s feelings I’d also feel really guilty and reach for a snack to numb the emotions. I was aware of myself going into Rebellious Child sometimes, too. For instance, I often got the urge to overeat when I was feeling irritable and fed up.


Thanks to what I’ve achieved with LighterLife, I feel young, fit and healthy. I’ve completely lost my fear of dancing in public. Life has just opened up to me in so many ways. The children are still very young but they’ve noticed the change in me, too. The other day, Jade was looking at an old photo of me on the fridge wearing baggy clothes. She said, ‘Is that you, Mummy?’ I said, ‘Yes, of course, darling.’ She frowned and said, ‘You’ve got a big tummy! And why are you wearing Daddy’s clothes?’ I had to laugh at that. I want them to grow up with a happy, healthy mummy, so I fully intend to stay in shape. ■

Diane’s Counsellor is Kate Smith of Cambridge

Having my wavy hair ironed into smooth tresses. So nice being pampered Setting up Hair and make-up artist Laurence Close tends to Diane’s hair, while photographic assisant Yohanna takes a light reading



My number one tip for long-term success is to keep going to LighterLife Management groups after you reach your desired weight. I’ve long since reached a healthy BMI but I still go to group every week for support and advice – and it’s fun. I spent years battling my weight problems and I’m realistic about the fact that I’m not going to be ‘cured’ overnight. I don’t want to return to unhealthy eating or thinking. EXERCISE

My husband loves my fitter, slimmer body. I can see by the look in his eyes that he’s really proud of what I’ve achieved. He’s a keen bodybuilder and enjoys giving me advice on using weights at the gym and body sculpting any problem areas. Since losing weight I’ve truly discovered a passion for working out. I go to Body Combat and Body Balance classes at the gym, and I run, too. I recently did a ten kilometre Race for Life for Breast Cancer Care and now I’m planning other big runs.

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Getting ready for my close-up Make-up Being a busy mum and running her own business means Diane normally sticks to light make-up, so she loved the chance to get a professional makeover

I could easiliy get used to this VIP treatment!

WOULD YOU LOVE A MAKEOVER? If so, send us your inspiring story plus some before and after pics. Email:

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MEDICAL EVIDENCE DID YOU GET INVOLVED Q HOW IN LIGHTERLIFE? giving a lecture at the NHS University A Iinwas Buckinghamshire, about how ketogenic

(low-carb) diets are a useful way of dealing with obesity. LighterLife Directors Jackie Cox and Bar Hewlett approached me afterwards and asked me if I’d be interested in doing an independent research study with the LighterLife programme. So I set up a 12-month study using 120 LighterLife clients with a BMI of 35 and above. WERE THE RESULTS Q WHAT OF THIS STUDY? who followed the LighterLife Total A Those programme (using Foodpacks providing

500-600 kcals a day) and attended LighterLife groups lost far more weight than patients on two other reduced-calorie diets. On average, the Total group lost 4st 8Ib compared to 2st 8Ib and 9Ib on a traditional ‘healthy eating’ plan and a high protein, low carbohydrate diet respectively. Their cholesterol levels were also significantly lower and overall health was much improved. DO VLCDS (VERY-LOWQ WHY CALORIE-DIETS) WORK? work because ketogenesis – A VLCDs also known as ketosis – suppresses the

appetite. The body then adapts to this very much reduced energy intake by switching away from a carbohydrate base to using up its fat stores. After a few days patients don’t feel as hungry as they might expect and are able to cope better than on conventional diets. WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU

Q HAVE WORKING WITH VLCDS? a metabolic physician so I look after A I’m problems with patients’ body chemistry, diabetes, cholesterol problems and so on. Metabolic physicians also look after patients who have had


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We speak to Professor Iain Broom, Medical Director of LighterLife, and a world-renowned authority on VLCDs and weight loss. Here, Professor Broom explains why he strongly recommends LighterLife to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis… major surgery and get serious disturbances in their body chemistry. During the eighties I set up a medical outpatient clinic, where I’d review patients for their suitability for bariatric (weight-loss) surgery and put them on ketogenic diets. Often they’d lose so much weight on these ketogenic diets that they’d elect not to go for bariatric surgery in the end, and from there my medical clinic grew and grew. SETS LIGHTERLIFE APART Q WHAT FROM OTHER WEIGHT-LOSS PROGRAMMES?

No other programme focuses on behaviour change like LighterLife. The cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and transactional analysis (TA) techniques help clients gain an understanding of why the weight was gained and the group work means they have support and identification with other people. They change the way they think and therefore the whole way they relate to food. The group work is also important once weight loss is achieved. They can get ongoing support to help them maintain their weight, which means they’re far less likely to put it back on.




Humans have evolved in such a way that we’re actually designed to survive well in times of feast and famine. On a VLCD we switch to using fat as our main fuel source and become ketotic. It’s an in-built evolutionary advantage to be able to do this and keeps hunger at bay. DO SOME PEOPLE REGAIN Q WHY WEIGHT THEY’VE LOST AFTER A DIET OR WEIGHT-LOSS PROGRAMME?


It’s important to change the way you think if you want to keep the weight off long-term.

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For instance, women typically lose a stone a month on LighterLife but may vary in the amount of time it takes to change internally. If you go back to eating and doing what you did before you lost weight, you will go back to weighing the same. Also, lots of people make the mistake of overeating, as they had always done, once they finish a VLCD. It’s worth noting, the study I did with LighterLife clients showed that, contrary to popular opinion, most of the patients were still maintaining their goal weight two years later. VLCDS POSE A RISK TO Q DO YOUR HEART? absolutely no evidence to suggest A There’s losing weight through a VLCD like LighterLife

Professor Iain Broom

is the Medical Director for LighterLife. He’s also a Professor in Clinical Biochemistry at Robert Gordon University, and Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Aberdeen

is bad for the heart, none whatsoever. Research studies have been carried out worldwide for decades and have shown no risk. If you look at the studies that we carried out and compare patients on LighterLife with patients on other diets it shows that there’s absolutely no difference. It’s body fat that’s lost, not body protein or muscle. Therefore there’s no implication that there’s a danger to, or loss of, cardiac muscle at all. DO MEN GENERALLY Q WHY LOSE WEIGHT QUICKER THAN ON VLCDS? A WOMEN Men have more muscle mass than women

and therefore a higher metabolic rate so they

Humans have evolved in such a way that we’re actually designed to survive well in times of feast or famine. On a VLCD we switch to using fat as our main fuel source

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GLOSSARY VLCD a very-lowcalorie-diet, which broadly means it’s less than 800 kcal per day.

TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS (TA) A highly effective way of improving how you communicate with other people and yourself, which can help with weightmanagement. BARIATRIC SURGERY Weight-loss surgery including the use of gastric bands. KETOGENIC DIET enables the body to burn its fat stores instead of running off carbohydrates.

burn more calories than their female equivalents at the same weight. They may also have less of a ‘dieting history’ and therefore take to programmes like LighterLife with fresher resources. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ARE CRITICAL OF VLCDS?


Most people who criticise actually don’t understand how VLCDs work, the research that has gone into them over the decades and how safe and efficient they are. If you’re overweight or obese you’ll have far more potential health problems than if you’re a healthy weight. Yes, there are minor problems associated with any low-calorie intake – any diet, rather like pregnancy, can cause temporary hair shedding in women. Cutting out floury, sugar-based foods can also cause headaches in the first week or so – but all of that settles down very quickly.


IT SAFE TO BE ON A VLCD FOR Q IS MORE THAN 12 WEEKS? general suggestion from the National A The Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

KETOSIS/ KETOTIC When the body is in fat-burning mode. OBESE Those with a BMI of over 30 are classed, by the NHS, as medically obese. CARDIAC RISK Risk of heart disease.

(NICE) is that you do it for a three-month period, which is advice LighterLife clients follow. But there’s no evidence to suggest it cannot be used for longer or that it’s harmful. Many people have used it for much longer. In fact we recently monitored patients on a VLCD over nine months. All their results showed an improvement in liver function, kidney function and in overall cardiac risk, so the evidence would suggest that there is no real reason for having a three-month limitation on it. And, a recent statement from the National Obesity Forum actually says this. BEEN SAID THE NHS COULD Q IT’S SAVE OVER £1BN BY PROVIDING MORE BARIATRIC (WEIGHT-LOSS) SURGERY TO OBESE PEOPLE


A recent study with a VLCD showed patients had an improvement in liver and kidney function and in overall cardiac risk


There’s no way the NHS can cope with an increase in bariatric surgery. It’s much more cost-effective to put patients on to a VLCD than it is to put them on a waiting list for bariatric surgery. If you put patients in line for bariatric surgery on to a VLCD in the interim you’ll often find that they’ll lose the weight and elect not to have the bariatric surgery in the end. The results of patients who fully complete the LighterLife Total programme are exactly the same as you’d expect from those who have bariatric surgery, so LighterLife should always be used before sending a patient for bariatric surgery.


YOU ENCOURAGE Q WOULD EXERCISE ALONGSIDE A VLCD? no reason at all why you can’t A There’s take regular exercise. There are over

37,000 kcal in every stone of fat, so if you’re overweight or obese you will have plenty of reserve energy. The more exercise you do, the more fat you’ll burn. We’ve had professional athletes, aerobic instructors and other fit people on the programme. They’ve had no problems whatsoever. So by all means, why not enjoy working out? It all adds to a positive LighterLife experience and is good for long-term health. ■

Photographer PHILIP HOLLIS

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY gives you practical skills to think, feel and act differently, including around food.

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Best mates Matt and Chris reveal how they went from chunky to funky in a few short months…

Double-take! N

ot long ago, close friends Matt and Chris were out of breath when they walked around the block. Now, thanks to LighterLife, they’re fit, healthy and inspiring each other to stay on track.

MATT SIGNED UP TO LIGHTERLIFE WHEN HE FOUND HE WAS TOO BIG TO HAVE A MUCH NEEDED OPERATION My decision to lose weight didn’t come naturally. I was the stereotypical fat, jolly person who’s full of life and laughter. I was aware I was obese, I didn’t have any illusions about that, but I couldn’t find the motivation to change. I’d always been fat, even as a child, and I probably put on a stone each year. I grew up in a big family; we all love our food and Mum’s a great cook. I always enjoyed big portions and wanted seconds. Every now and then Mum would try and encourage us all to cut down and we’d all eat more healthily for a couple of weeks, but it never lasted. My moment of truth came on a diving holiday in Egypt two years ago. I was away with Chris, as it happens – the two of us have been great mates for six years. I did this big dive into the hotel swimming pool and snapped my Achilles tendon as I hit


the water. I had a horrific sensation, as if my foot had come off. I flew back to Manchester the next day and went straight to hospital. After some initial treatment I was told I’d need to have an operation. But the consultant was very stern and said it would be too dangerous to operate until I’d lost a substantial amount of weight. He said, ‘How much weight do you think you need to lose?’ I said, ‘Oh, about 10 stone.’ He said, ‘Yes, all that and maybe a bit more!’ He wasn’t subtle but I respond better to harsh facts than the softer approach. The fact is, years of obesity has put a strain on all of my joints. Doctors have told me I’ll probably need both my knees replacing when I’m older. I had to be signed off work pending the operation. MATT SAWERS That made me LOST miserable. I was sitting INCHES at home bored out IN FROM HIS WAIST of my mind. It turned 7 MONTHS out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because it made me tackle my weight. I’ve always loved my job. I’m training as a nurse and do the rounds in the Royal Bolton Hospital. I’m very sociable and really enjoy chatting to patients. So I knew if I wanted to get back to work I’d have to slim down enough to have the surgery. MATT SAWERS SAWERS, 31, I’d seen adverts for LighterLife lives in Warrington, on TV and the simplicity of the Cheshire. He works as programme really appealed to me. a nurse at the Royal I lost my first stone in the blink of an Bolton Hospital. He’s eye – it was incredible. a keen amateur diver. I’ve since lost a lot of weight, ➳


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I lost my first stone in the blink of an eye. It was incredible matt

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I started to build goals, something I’d not done before chris


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cover story shedding 22 inches from my waistline. I’m really happy with that achievement. My family are thrilled and my father has also lost weight because he’d been inspired by my transformation. I had my operation with no complications and I’m back at work, which is great. My colleagues can’t believe I’m the same guy who used to huff and puff his way round the wards. I often catch them staring at me in disbelief. I like working out now, too, and feel fitter and healthier than ever before. Better still, I have to admit I’ve noticed girls checking me out. Needless to say, this rarely happened when I was bigger! My LighterLife Counsellor from Warrington, in Cheshire, was lovely and encouraged me to open up in my men’s group. We guys weren’t exactly touchy-feely – we tended to take the mickey out of each other a lot – but we got a lot out of the groups. Once we started Route to Management we recommended certain recipes to each other. To top it off, Chris was so impressed by my weight loss, he signed up to LighterLife. Now he’s as slim as me, and we barely recognise each other from how we looked before.


some weighty numbers…

ditch the doughnuts Matt and Chris’ Counsellor is Sarah Demaree of Harrogate


Growing up, I was always quite stocky but I had that youthful confidence. I was always quite sporty and played a lot of rugby, which meant I could use my solid frame to my advantage, barging other players out of my way and doing some pretty ruthless rugby tackles. Over the years, a lot of women may have been put off by my size but I had one or two relationships along the way. To be honest, I value my freedom anyway. I work in a construction company and I often have a laugh at colleagues who come in on Monday mornings complaining about how they’ve been bossed about all weekend by their wives... My moment of truth came when I was at an amusement park on Australia’s Gold Coast. I was excited about going on all the rides but found I was too fat to fit into them. It was mortifying. That was a bit of a wake-up call and I was determined to lose weight. I weighed CHRIS HUNTER LOST 27 stone and managed to shed 3 stone over 12 months by INCHES IN IST cutting down on FROM HIS WA 9 MONTHS kebabs, takeaways and my weekend drinking sessions. I also swam


CHRIS HUNTER HUNTER, 29, lives in Leigh, Lancashire. He works in the construction industry. He’s also a keen diving fan.

half a stone

is the amount the average man will gain per year by eating while watching television.


We can barely recognise each other from how we looked before


Men with a high intake of trans-fats (usually found in processed foods) have more than double the chance of getting prostate cancer.

is the chance of you becoming more overweight if your best mate is overweight too, according to a study by the University of California. This is because people tend to mimic and compare themselves to close friends – sometimes without realising it.

30 minutes is the amount of time

you should wait after breakfast before having coffee, as caffeine interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron.

five nights a week. But it wasn’t long before the weight piled back on – partly because I went from an active job to sitting behind a desk. I needed something radical to happen so that I could stop eating so much and change my habits long-term. My motivation for joining LighterLife was seeing how well Matt was doing on the programme. He’d got a big head-start on me and looked so much healthier and fitter as the weeks went by. We’ve been mates for six years. I met him on a diving course and we hit it off immediately. We were a similar size. Ironically, his nickname was ‘Fettlah’, which means skinny in Egyptian, and I soon got given my own nickname, ‘Tiny Diver’, which was obviously a joke when you look at old photos of me bursting out of my wetsuit. I liked my men’s group, and my Counsellor, Sarah Demaree, based in Harrogate, was brilliant. She helped me work towards goals, something I’d not really done before. I started thinking about positive things I could do. For example, I’ve always wanted to do a skydive but I was too heavy to qualify for one. Now, that dream is set to become a reality. My tastebuds have changed since doing the programme, too. I eat far less stodge. I’m not going to say I’ll never have a takeaway again but I don’t crave them in the same way I used to. It’s all about eating in moderation. I’ve started to teach myself to cook using LighterLife Lite recipes and various other cookbooks. A work colleague has also helped out, bringing in fresh fruit and veg from his allotment. I’ve also lost the urge to binge-drink at weekends. I savour the taste of a glass of wine and don’t feel the need to get drunk. That is certainly a change for the better. I’m chuffed I’ve reached my goal weight and I’m getting the right kind of attention for once. I’m determined to keep it off. ■

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LighterLife winter 2011  

Magazine extracts

LighterLife winter 2011  

Magazine extracts