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


Go back a year and the Byrne family diet consisted of Chinese takeaways, kebabs, pizzas and little else. Debbie, 45, who lives in Essex with Brendan, 41, and 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 due to 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."

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, Debbie had lost three stone and Brendan four.

"There’s flexibility in the diet, and that was important for the children," says Debbie. "And 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 dropped from a dress size 20 to a 10. Brendan had dropped to his target of 12st 10lb. Daughter Rhiannon had lost 21lb and weighed 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."

view information about Obesity on www.nhs.co.uk »

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