'Life is so much better at a healthy weight' 

Husband and wife Brendan and Debbie Byrne lost a combined total of 9st 6lb by binning takeaways in favour of a healthy diet.

The Byrne's family diet used to comprise Chinese takeaways, kebabs, pizzas and little else. Debbie and Brendan, who live in Essex with their children, knew it wasn't ideal.

"When you both work full-time, it's hard to find time to cook," she says. "Brendan and I had struggled with our weight for years. I could see that the children were gaining weight, too."

By early 2006, Debbie and Brendan, who both work for the police force, each weighed 16st 4lb. On a visit to his GP, Brendan was told that his blood pressure was too high. Meanwhile, Debbie's self-esteem was at an all-time low because of her weight, and she was on medication for depression.

"When we heard about Brendan's blood pressure, we knew we really had to act," she says. "Our eldest daughter, Rhiannon, is 21. She was 12st 5lb, around 21lb overweight."

Their eldest son Liam and youngest child Ciaran, 13, could also have benefited from losing few pounds, says Debbie. "I didn't want the children to grow up facing the same health problems as us."

When a friend recommended local slimming classes, Debbie immediately booked a slot for herself and Brendan. "It was quite daunting at first," says Debbie. "But we soon both found the classes an enormous support."

A consultant provided advice on diet and exercise at the weekly meetings, and group members were encouraged to share their experiences.

"At home, I started cooking with less fat," says Debbie. "I changed from white bread to wholemeal, and we started eating lots more fruit."

A food system devised by the slimming club consisted of a diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat. Dieters are also allowed occasional treats, small indulgences for which you plan ahead. By August 2006, Debbie had lost three stone and Brendan four.

"There's flexibility in the diet, and that was important for the children," says Debbie. "They could see the good it was doing us."

Rhiannon, Liam and Ciaran had also started to lose weight. Along with weight loss came an energy boost. The family started running together, and Debbie even joined a gym.

By May 2007, Debbie had reached her target weight of 10st 2lb and had dropped five dress sizes, from a 20 to a 10. Brendan had also reached his target of 12st 10lb. Daughter Rhiannon had lost 21lb, reaching 11st, and Ciaran and Niall had also lost pounds.

"It's so good to know that the children's weight is under control," says Debbie. "Weight loss has also done wonders for my self-esteem, and I'm no longer reliant on antidepressants. Brendan's blood pressure has dropped to a normal level, too.

"Life is so much better at a healthy weight. You feel great, and people see you differently. I only wish I'd done this years ago."

Brendan Byrne

Height: 5ft 6in
Before: 16st 4lb
Now: 12st 10lb
LOST: 3st 8lb

Page last reviewed: 07/04/2014

Next review due: 07/04/2016