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Slimming champs shed 'two people'

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:21 03 July 2010

Takeaway meals were their downfall.

As they tucked into fish and chips, pizza and Chinese food nearly every night, their weight simply ballooned.

But today Norfolk couple Katie and Mark Fairhead are celebrating a new lease of life, having shed almost 20 stone between them to be crowned Mr and Mrs Slimming World 2009.

Takeaway meals were their downfall.

As they tucked into fish and chips, pizza and Chinese food nearly every night, their weight simply ballooned.

But today Norfolk couple Katie and Mark Fairhead are celebrating a new lease of life, having shed almost 20 stone between them to be crowned Mr and Mrs Slimming World 2009.

The dramatic weight loss - the equivalent of an extra two people in their marriage - has also brought huge health benefits for the duo from Wymondham who used to reach for the takeaway menu after long days at work because they could not be bothered to cook.

Mrs Fairhead, 40, a former housing manager, said she was a “workaholic” until a nervous breakdown left her virtually housebound.

Suffering from clinical depression and agoraphobia, her weight ballooned to 20st 9.5lb

“Food became my friend and I comfort-ate,” she explained. “I went from being a complete workaholic to not being able to get out of bed the next day. There were days when I couldn't even open the front door or go into my own back garden.”

Her 45-year-old husband also piled on the pounds after he went from the shop floor of a furniture firm to an office job and gave up cycling to look after his sick wife.

He weighed 23st 6lb and was too heavy to weigh himself on the couple's bathroom scales.

His wife avoided mirrors and hated having her photo taken, but allowed her husband to take a full-length picture of her at a New Year party four years ago that inspired her to brave her fear of going out, and join the local Slimming World class.

“I was approaching my 40s and seeing that picture horrified me. I didn't want to be fat and 40. It was the wake-up call I needed to do something about my weight,” she said.

Mr Fairhead suffered from high blood pressure, a bad back and sciatica. He also had a hernia, but his stomach was too big for him to undergo the operation to fix it.

He said it was the sudden death of a close friend from cancer, in August 2006, that made him realise he was wasting his life.

“I felt incredibly guilty that I was carrying all this weight around and being unhealthy, and he was in the prime of his life and was taken away. It was the spur that I needed to give me the kick up the backside to do something about it.”

Although he did not go to the Slimming World group, Mr Fairhead started following his wife's new healthy eating regime and was surprised it was possible to have a plate full of food and still lose weight. They now enjoy eating mainly rice, potato and pasta dishes, and say they are much more outgoing and willing to try new things.

In two years and two months Mrs Fairhead lost 9st 13.5lb and reached her goal weight of 10st 10lb, shrinking from a size 28-30 to a size 12-14. Her husband shed 9st 10lb in two years to reach his target weight of 13st 10lb. His waist shrank 10in from 46in to 36in.

Their total weight loss is 19st 9.5lbs.

“It's definitely helped that we've been doing it together because we've been able to encourage each other. I've also had great support from the rest of the Slimming World group,” continued Mrs Fairhead. “Every week I look forward to going to the group and sharing recipes and ideas.”

The couple were named Wymondham slimmers of the year last month, beating off stiff competition in the national final to win the prize of £2,000 in cash or a week's holiday at a luxury spa resort in Cyprus.

Slimming World consultant Debbie Smith, who runs the group, said: “I'm so proud of what Katie and Mark have achieved and the whole group is extremely pleased for them. I know times are tough financially, but looking after your health and wellbeing is a priority and, in fact, Katie tells me they're spending less on food now than before.”

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