Nicola and Chris decided to lose weight after their marriage got stuck in a rut and their size meant they couldn’t play with their children
A couple who admits their marriage got stuck in a rut as they were uncomfortable with their size have lost an incredible 17st 9.5lbs between them to be named Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2021.
Nicola and Chris Guilfoyle, from Elm Park, Clonmel, used to watch their three children play, unable to join in with them and riddled with guilt as they knew their young children craved parental attention.
The couple’s weight problems began early in their relationship. Nicola, 36, who has now lost more than 12st, says: “I’ve battled with my weight all my life really, at least since my teens. When the kids were younger it was so easy for us to forget about our own health and reach for takeaway menus once they had gone to bed.
What a transformation! Since joining Slimming World they’ve lost an incredible 17st 9.5lbs and have been named Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2021
“Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism when she was two-years-old. She’s doing fabulously now, but it was difficult to begin with, and Chris and I used food as comfort.
“I remember taking my daughter to Drayton Manor and being asked to get off a ride as the safety bar wouldn’t fit over my stomach. I laughed it off at the time, but on the inside, I was distraught that my young child had to ride alone, and that I was missing these precious moments with her.
“I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been when I joined Slimming World, and I used to find even minor things that people take for granted difficult, such as tying my own shoelaces, so I’d wear sliders as my feet were so painful and swollen.”
Chris, also 36, who has lost 5st 1.5lbs, agreed to join Slimming World with Nicola to improve his own health. He says: “Nicola told me she wanted to join, and I needed to lose weight, so I agreed to go with her. We joined Slimming World in January 2020 and I thought I might lose a few pounds but didn’t realise how much I’d be able to eat with Slimming World and still lose weight. I was quite cynical when I first heard about Food Optimising and the list of Free Food that you could eat without restriction. Then we went back to the group after a week for our first weigh-in and I’d lost 7.5lbs and Nicola had lost 8lbs. Since then we’ve never looked back.”
The couple admits feeling nervous walking through the doors of their Slimming World group for the first time, but immediately felt welcome.
Nicola says: “Chris has never been bothered by my size and walking through those doors I felt like we were united. All the other members were so friendly, and our consultant made us relax instantly. The motivation we get from our Slimming World group is unbelievable and we wouldn’t have gotten this far without the continued support. When we first joined, I felt exercising was very uncomfortable, I got breathless very quickly and was afraid of doing myself an injury, so I just didn’t do any. Through the support of my family and consultant we gradually introduced little walks into our day. We gradually increased the distance we walked and now you can’t stop us. We go on long walks with the children and we’ve even joined a gym!”
Chris, who is a retail manager, says: “I’m surrounded by food at work and used to visit the deli daily to grab my lunch – by joining Slimming World I was worried I’d have to give up all of my favourite food, but I’m eating more than ever. I prepare my breakfast the night before, which my youngest daughter loves to help with, and I’m really enjoying the home cooked dinners Nicola adapts to make them the Slimming World way, like swapping fatty meats for leaner cuts of meat. Our favourites are the diet cola chicken and lamb biriyani.”
Nicola, a stay-at-home mum, is loving being able to be active with the children since losing weight.
She says: “We’ve been doing so much together as a family, including hiking and cooking. Losing weight has also reignited our marriage – it has changed our lives.
“We still enjoy a good takeaway on occasion, but we make healthy choices now that we’ve learnt since joining Slimming World, like having boiled rice instead of egg fried rice when we have a Chinese. I used to suffer from constant heartburn and acid reflux to the point where I would vomit when I lay down, but that has gone away since I lost weight.
“Due to lockdown people hadn’t seen me for months, but once restrictions started to ease, the other parents in the school yard didn’t recognise me at first as I’ve lost so much weight. I feel a lot more confident in myself now.”
Since losing weight the couple are looking forward to going on holiday together.
He says: “When we were overweight Nicola and I couldn’t even sit next to each other on an airplane because we were so big. Now we’re looking forward to planning holidays together as a family and enjoying doing things we were never able to do before, creating memories with our children that will last a lifetime.”
Nicola and Chris attend Clonmel Slimming World group in Tipperary, run by Siobhan O’Dwyer.
Height: 5ft 9in
Starting weight: 22st 8lbs/143kg
Current weight: 10st/65kg
Weight loss: 12st 8lbs/78kg
Starting dress size: 28
Current dress size: 10
Date joined Slimming World: January 2020
Height: 5ft 10ins
Starting weight: 18st 2.5lbs/115kg
Current weight: 13st 1lb/83kg
Weight loss: 5st 1.5lbs/32kg
Starting waist measurement: 44in
Current waist measurement: 32-34in
Date joined Slimming World: January 2020
Group: Nicola and Chris attend Clonmel Slimming World group in County Tipperary, run by Siobhan O'Dwyer.
Nicola’s before menu:
Breakfast: Four slices of buttery toast with egg and sausages fried in oil
Lunch: Egg mayonnaise with ham and stuffing in a white bread roll with crisps
Dinner: Burger and cheesy fries all cooked in oil with full fat mayonnaise
Snacks: Chocolate and sweets
Evening: A few cans of cider, Doritos and dips, followed by a takeaway 4-5 nights a week
Nicola’s after menu:
Breakfast: Egg muffins
Mid-morning: Fruit or low syn bars and plenty of water
Lunch: Slimming World Speedy Soup, 2 Slimming World Hi-Fi bars and seasoned skinned chicken thighs with salad
Dinner: Lamb biriyani with rice and lots of veg
Evening: Big fruit salad and flavoured quark
Chris’s before menu:
Breakfast: Sausage rolls and wedges from his work Deli, full fat coke
Lunch: Pre-packed sandwiches with a cup of tea and a full packet of biscuits
Dinner: Burger with full fat mayonnaise and chips cooked in oil
Snacks: Crisps, chocolate and ice cream
Evening: Beers a few nights a week, followed by a takeaway kebab
Chris’s after menu:
Breakfast: Baked oats
Mid-morning: Fruit and yogurt
Lunch: Egg wrap stuffed with cheese, chicken rashers or chicken sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes with low syn relish
Dinner: Diet cola chicken served with vegetables
Evening: Slimming World Hi-Fi bar, or a meringue nest filled with yogurt and fruit
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.