A Tonmawr slimmer who lost 7 and a half stones to reverse his type 2 diabetes symptoms, is set to do something he would never have dreamed of before losing weight.
41-year-old Mat Jones used to do no exercise and, due to his type 2 diabetes, had to inject himself twice a day. Now, two years on, his diabetes is under control without the need for injections and will be representing Slimming World in their national team of 11 slimmers from across the UK, who between them have lost more than 73st. The team are running at the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK, and are aiming to increase awareness of how keeping a healthy weight improves health, including reducing the risk of developing some types of cancer.
Mat decided to lose weight for good in December 2014, after seeing an unflattering photograph of himself following a Christmas party. Weighing 23st, he worried he might lose his partner if he didn't slim down. He did no exercise and said that other than going to work he felt like he was the 'laziest person' he knew, and needed to do more.
Shortly after, Mat joined the Cimla Slimming World group run by Consultant Arlene Smith. He began following Slimming World's Food Optimising healthy eating plan and discovered a love of cooking, swapping his diet of takeaway burgers and pizza for cooking healthy, wholesome meals from scratch including his new homemade versions of lean burgers and pizza, with vegetables, salad and Slimming World homemade chips.
He says: "I was so nervous before joining Slimming World but I soon realised I needn't have been. I got a fantastic warm welcome from the group, and when Arlene, my Consultant, explained the eating plan, I couldn't quite believe it! Losing weight without going hungry, while still enjoy all my favourite meals, just by making changes to the way I prepared and cooked them, has been amazing. I've never eaten so well in my life!"
As the weight came off, Mat gained the confidence to start getting more active. He began walking instead of driving and built up his fitness levels gradually. With the support of the other members of his group, he started following Slimming World's Body Magic activity programme, which helps slimmers to take small steps towards a more active lifestyle based around things they enjoy.
Mat continues: "There's no way I'd have lost 7st 7lbs or be running the marathon without the support of my Slimming World group and Consultant. My group inspired me to take my first steps to getting more active and have been there to congratulate me whenever I reach a new weight loss or personal best. They keep me on-track and inspire me with their achievements on their own journeys too!"
Mat has now completed numerous 10k races, a couple of half marathons and five triathlons, and can't wait to run the London marathon for the first time for Cancer Research UK as part of the Slimming World team: "I can't believe how far I've come in the past few years and all the incredible changes I've made. I'm happier and healthier and, by making all these healthier changes I've reduced my chances of developing a range of health problems including some types of cancer. I've really found a love for running and I can't believe I'm now going to be running the big one this year - my dream - the London Marathon!
"I can't wait for the atmosphere on race day and to cross that finish line. Achieving this lifelong ambition would never have been possible before losing weight. I'm excited to give something back and raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Slimming World Consultant Arlene Smith runs Mat's weekly group sessions. She says: "Mat is a real inspiration to us all and we are so proud of him. When he first came through the door he just wanted to lose weight - he had no idea what a huge transformation he was about to begin and certainly no idea that he would one day be running the London Marathon, it's incredible! He proves that with a little determination and the right kind of support, anyone's weight loss and activity dreams can be achieved. We welcome anyone looking to lose weight here at Slimming World, whatever their health and weight-loss goals might be."
One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Money raised for Cancer Research UK helps fund life-saving research and will help us achieve our vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured Anyone who would like to sponsor the Slimming World Marathon team can do so by visiting: https://www.justgiving.com/SWMarathonTeam2017 . Each year the slimming club's fundraising arm SMILES supports a charity partner, and this is the fourth year that Slimming World's members and Consultants have supported Cancer Research UK.