When Ant Darlow walked into his first Slimming World meeting over a year ago, he wasn’t sure what to expect as a male in a usually female-dominated space.
The Knutton resident joined his local group in August 2019 after toying with the idea for a while.
Ant had seen a fellow member have success with the plan, and after noticing some photos of himself that he wasn’t happy with, he decided it was time to take the plunge.
When he started his weight loss journey he weighed in at 14st 13lbs, but now he is a slender 10st 12lbs – making his total loss 4st 1lbs.
The 34-year-old has taken up running, changed his mindset around food and dropped three sizes.
“I’d seen the plan work really well for someone else,” said Ant, “so I thought it must work. I just decided to give it a go.
“I’d always been thinking about losing weight. I think I’d been putting it on slowly for a while, but for some reason last year my mindset changed and I just went for it.
“I think a lot of it is about mindset. You have to be committed to the plan and you have to throw yourself into it. The first step, walking into the group, is the hardest, but it’s such a supportive environment once you’re there.
“At the start I was a bit nervous about being the only guy and it was slightly daunting. I think at most groups you’ll find a larger amount of women, and I did expect that.
“I don’t think there were any other men when I joined. If there were, it was only one or two. But the first step is just walking through the doors, and everyone is so welcoming. I didn’t worry about it at all after I’d joined.
“The plan works for everyone – it’s not just for women. It’s a lifestyle change that anyone can implement.”
He continued: “Now I’m more aware of what I put into my mouth. I cook so much more now, especially batch cooking. That helps so much with preparation, and it means you always have a healthy option available.
“I love cooking chicken and using different spices to make it taste different every time. I also love potato discs, which is just really thinly sliced potatoes cooked in the oven. I’ve found that the best meals are usually the simplest.
“The biggest thing about Slimming World is that nothing is off limits. Every morning I have a cup of tea with sugar, and I couldn’t give that up, but with the plan, I don’t have to.
“As a man, you can have up to 25 syns, but when I started I was quite strict with myself and would never really have more than 10.
“That being said, if I wanted a treat, I’d have those little bags of chocolate buttons. They’re only about three syns and they’re just enough for a chocolate hit.”
Thanks to his weight loss, Ant has been able to start running, something that he says helps him both physically and mentally.
“I started jogging during my journey, but I didn’t really start that until about February, and I started in August. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
“Now I jog 20k a week and I’ve got two half-marathons under my belt. It’s been amazing for both my physical and mental health, and I couldn’t have done that when I was 15 stone.”
Now Ant says he ‘feels so much better’ in himself and he’s been able to buy lots of new clothes – in smaller sizes!
The StokeonTrentLive app delivers the latest news, sport and what’s on information to your mobile phone – all for free.
Designed for iPhone, iPad and Android, you can discover breaking news as it happens and you will also find a wealth of information covering entertainment, business, community, weather and lifestyle. Click on the App Store here to download the app for iOS devices, and on the Google Play store here to download the app on Android.
“Admittedly I’ve never been someone who wasn’t that confident, but losing the weight has made me feel so much better.
“I’ve gone through two wardrobes because I was a extra large, and now I buy my clothes in a small. Luckily it happened during the changing of the seasons so I had to buy new clothes anyway!
“I think my biggest tip for a new member would be to focus on your mindset. It’s so important.
“The plan might feel quite foreign at first, and there’s a lot to take in. One of my biggest worries was that I was going to go hungry, but that’s not the case. Nothing is off limits.
“It’s about making little changes which become habits, and that makes a big difference.”