Parents Win Slimming Award

A couple who lost more than 9 stone between them have been telling Heart that they wanted to lose the weight to become better parents.

Neil Bowers and wife Caroline Varney-Bowers, from Norwich, say they used to eat lots of fatty meals with snacks like cakes and biscuits, but now they've replaced them with much healthier options.

Neil, 37, found he put on weight after leaving the RAF at 25; his weight gain left him so depressed that he felt unable to bond with his newborn son, and he says that only made it worse:

"It was heartbreaking not having the feelings I thought I should towards our son, and I turned to food for comfort. But after a while I realised my depression stemmed from being unhappy with my weight. I wanted to be the kind of dad who could run and kick a football around, not one who struggled to even get out of a chair and had to watch from the sidelines."

Without doubt, the best thing about losing weight is that's who I've become. We love going for family walks and playing with the children - now it's them saying they're tired, not us!"

The couple had been unhappy with their weight for years, trying various different dieting plans, but nothing had helped them to lose weight and keep it off until 2009 when Caroline, 37,  joined the Lakenham Slimming World group, run by Julia Jones.  After only 8 weeks, Caroline had lost 1½ stone, which prompted Neil to go along to the group with her.

They replaced ready-meals with nutritious home-cooked food; anything ranging from a Full English breakfast, to pasta and meatballs in tomato sauce.

Caroline says she found the plan easy to integrate into family life; "When you both work and you've got young children, it's easy to say you don't have time to cook, but there are so many quick and easy recipes that are healthy too."

Neil and Caroline are now 9½ stone lighter between them, and say that it's helped both of them to become more active. They've now become Slimming World Couple Of The Year.

"We feel like completely different people... We're happier, healthier, and more confident."

Neil and Caroline's Statistics

Caroline's height: 5ft 3"

Weight before: 14st 13lbs (Size 20-22)

Weight now: 10st 6lbs (Size 12)

Weight loss: 4st 7lbs

Neil's height: 6ft 1"

Weight before: 19st 9lbs (44" waist)

Weight now: 14st 13.5lbs (34" waist)

Weight loss: 4st 9.5lbs

Caroline Varney Bowers BEFORE   Neil Bowers BEFORENeil And Caroline After

Hear From Caroline About How They Changed Their Diet