'We have lost 20 stones between the pair of us' Almondbury couple Simon and Deborah Hepworth realised that their weight problem was killing them, so they shed nearly 20 stones (124 kgs) between them and transformed their lives. Their amazing weight loss is now an inspiration to others.
EBORAH Hepworth was just 30 years-old when her GP prescribed medication for high blood pressure.
DOverweight from childhood she had ballooned to over 20 stones (130kgs) and was feeling lethargic and unwell. She had become so worried about her weight that she had even asked about the possibility of having gastric band surgery.
Today, Debs, as she is known to family and friends, is quite literally half the woman she used to be. She has shed more than 10 stones since 2011; no longer needs to take medication, and radiates health and well-being. And she's done it all without surgery. e blood pressure diagnosis, she says, was a wake-up call.
But she's not the only one in the household to be celebrating a new lease of life. Husband Simon, 42, an HGV technician, has also lost an incredible amount of excess weight. He's gone down from 23 stones (146 kgs) to just under 14 stones (88kgs).
e couple, who admit that a lifestyle of take-aways, snacks, ready meals and processed foods had taken their toll, have been so successful that they recently reached the 'nals of the Slimming World Couple of the Year competition, one of just six weight loss couples chosen from around the country.
While they didn't win the title, Debs and Simon couldn't be happier because they appreciate that their achievement is lifechanging.
"We could see where we were both headed," says Debs, 33. "Our lifestyle was killing us. Now we feel to be good role models for the kids."
" For many slimmers there is often a trigger that shocks them into dealing with their weight problem. In Simon's case it was a visit to a theme park with children, Christopher, now 14, and Cameron, 10.eir latest addition to their family is Phoebe, aged three.
He explained: "Christopher wasn't old enough to go on one of the rides by himself and had to be accompanied by an adult. We queued up for almost an hour but they couldn't strap me in because they couldn't get the belt round me so we had to come o. It was his 11th birthday. I felt terrible about it."
" Simon says he had tried many times to lose weight, using meal replacement drinks and diets, but had never managed to make much of a long-term derence to his size. At his largest he had a size 46/48 inch waist.
When Debs, who is a teaching assistant, was invited by friend and colleague Emma Tatler to attend a Slimming World club run by leader Lynda waites in Almondbury, she asked Simon if he too would like to go along.
"I said I would give it a try," said Simon, "although I didn't think it would work. I just wanted to support my wife."
In fact, within two weeks of joining the class in January 2012 he had shed a stone (6 kgs). Today his waist measurement has shrunk to 32/34.
Debs also began to steadily lose weight as the couple adopted a healthy eating plan. She's gone from a size 28 to a 12.
"We don't think of it as a diet, it's a lifestyle," said Debs, "You have to change the way you think about food. You don't give up everything straight away, you have to educate yourself. Now we cook meals from scratch and eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables."
Lynda says it's still unusual for men to attend slimming classes, as they see it as a predominantly female environment.
"Men do support their partners but normally they would just follow the eating plan at home and not attend meetings," she explained. "One of the reasons why Debs and Simon have been so successful is that they have worked together as a team. e change I have seen in them is not just physical, they are much happier and chat away in group to other members. Debs is on my social team and helps run things. ey are an inspiration to the others. When you are overweight you don't want to put yourself out there, you want to stay in the background. It destroys your con'dence."
Both Debs and Simon say that Lynda's encouragement has been a major factor in their success and the money they have spent attending a slimming club is balanced out by what they used to spend on food. "We used to spend a lot more on food," said Debs. "We'd be having three or four take-aways a week and what we were spending on junk, crisps, biscuits and high-sugar cereals is much more than the cost of Slimming World."
Today the family has a much more active lifestyle; going on regular walks together. Exercise is something the couple never considered before. Even the family dog, Smudge, was walked by the older children.
And they've invested in a new wardrobe. "It's wonderful being able to go into any shop and have whatever I want," said Debs.
Both Simon and Debs are now target members and determined not to slip back into their old ways. Aware that all too many slimmers fall o the wagon by not attending classes (which are free to maintaining members) they plan to continue going along to weekly weighins and pep talks.
And if they need any further encouragement they can always look at the 'before' photographs of themselves. Debs admits that she feels "sick" when she sees herself as she was, while Simon says he 'nds it diY=cult to believe that he is looking at himself.
He added: "I went to see one of the GPs at our practice recently about a sore shoulder and asked him to take my blood pressure and weigh me. He hadn't seen me before and when he was looking at my records he couldn't work out what was going on. He didn't believe I was the same person."
| Husband and wife super-slimmers, Simon and Debs Hepworth, |are presented with their certificate by Lynda Thwaites (left) of Slimming World ANDY CATCHPOOL 180314HSLIM
Debs and Simon Hepworth pictured before their epic |weight loss