Dean, 46, left his job as a recruitment manager in the NHS to care for his husband, who died earlier this year. He then found his talent for shopping and slimming on a budget and decided to follow a very healthy diet made of the supermarket’s “yellow sticker” products.
At his heaviest, the slimmer weighed 18 stone but managed to maintain his new weight at 13 stone since joining Slimming World.
He explained: “We had to go on to benefits and money was a lot tighter than it had ever been. I couldn’t just go to the shop, buy anything and not think about the price anymore.
“At first I felt ashamed putting the yellow sticker foods in my basket, but then I realised someone was going to buy them and it was better than it all going to waste.”
Dean, who had always enjoyed being creative in the kitchen, started following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan where he only used the supermarket’s marked-down foods.
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He explained: “I’ve always loved my food and I’ve always had this thing for dissecting dishes and seeing how they’re made and how I could make them myself.
“When I joined Slimming World, I turned this into a challenge of how I could make Slimming World versions of meals I enjoyed – like chippy teas, curries and roast dishes. It amazed me that there wasn’t anything you couldn’t have and often we’d have dinner parties and no one would have a clue they were eating a Slimming World-friendly dinner.
“I would get a joint of pork for £5 in the yellow label section, freeze it and then every Sunday I’d make a roast for eight of us with meat, roast potatoes and loads of veg and it would cost less than £10 in total.”
Dean joined Slimming World in 2010 with his late husband Gary to lose weight ahead of their wedding.
He lost four stone back then and managed to maintain it, but Gary fell ill a few years later. Talking about the time his husband was diagnosed with a tumour, Dean recalled: “I wasn’t sleeping or looking after myself at all.
“I’d have a drive-thru fast food breakfast, lunch would be something from the hospital canteen and I’d grab a takeaway for my tea on the way home from the hospital.
“It’s no surprise my weight went back up and I ended up on anti-depressants too. I knew I had to start looking after myself or I would never be able to look after Gary.”
Dean said about his experience in Slimming World: “I had never known anything like the feeling I got in that church hall when I first joined Slimming World, we were like a family, so I knew that I didn’t need to be ashamed about going back and admitting I’d regained the weight. I needed to pick back up where I’d left off and be part of a group of people on the same journey again.
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“I always say that Slimming World saved my life. Not just because of losing the weight again – I’m four stone down now and I’d like to lose around another stone – but because of the other members and the support.”
Dean continued: “Talking to people and being part of the group, I started to re-realise my self-worth and I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I realised other people were all going through their own things and we were in it together.
“I learn so much from the other members too. Everyone’s got different experiences and different backgrounds and that all comes together, so for instance, if you don’t know what to do with a particular food, you can be sure someone will.”
Dean admitted he feels completely different now he has lost so much weight: “I didn’t appreciate how much my weight was affecting me – just little things like bending down to do my shoelaces and walking to the shop are so much easier now.
“I can’t wait to help other people in the same way and I know Gary would be very proud that I’m doing something for me. I used to think it was selfish to do something for myself, now I know that I can’t help anyone else if I’m not ok.”
Dean’s menu before:
Breakfast: Drive-thru double sausage and egg sandwich and hash brown with orange juice
Lunch: Beetroot and goat’s cheese ciabatta
Dinner: Chinese or Indian takeaway
Snacks: Two packets of crisps, one chocolate bar and a cupcake.
Dean’s menu after:
Breakfast: Cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, lean bacon, Slimming World sausage patties (from Slimming World’s food range at Iceland), beans and wholemeal toast
Lunch: Chicken salad with chicken, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pepper, red onion, beetroot and low-fat cheese
Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognese with a couple of garlic bread slices
Snacks: Fat-free cottage cheese with apples, Bepps Black Eyed Peas popped snacks, fresh fruit.