One of the most common new year's resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape. Here, five Echo readers share their amazingly inspirational stories of how they have shed the pounds with Slimming World. As reporter Paul Whitelam discovers, their success means improved health and a massive confidence boost...
GLEN GOWERS, 31, from Skellingthorpe, is his Slimming World group's Man of the Year 2012 after losing an incredible 9st in 36 weeks.
"I have always suffered with a weight problem since I was a teenager and over the years tried all the diets but never got anywhere. I would lose weight and then put it back on," he said.
"I joined slimming world at the end of February 2012 and up to now I have lost just over 9st. I'm 6ft 8in and at my heaviest I was 30st.
"I want to lose at least another 4st and I'm also doing weights.
"I was starting to suffer from sleep apnea because my weight was putting pressure on my lungs. Since I've lost weight it's pretty much cleared up.
"I'm a doorman at Sugarcubes and a social sciences student at university. A lot of my problem has been finishing work at 3am and the only thing available to eat is a takeaway.
"But the plan teaches you to eat smaller portions and cook things different ways, for example, grilling rather than frying.
"Now, for breakfast, I have an omelette or eggs and bacon, soup for lunch and chicken with potatoes and veg for my evening meal.
"It's all about successful planning and you get a lot of support from the group. To start with, you have to have willpower, but Slimming World allows you to eat what you want. But you learn about nutritional values and how many calories are in certain foods.
"It's been good for me and my 5-year-old daughter. It's amazing now that people come up to me and say I look good or loads better than before."
KEVIN HEHIR, 50, from South Carlton, who is Lady Monson's groundsman, previously weighed 21st.
He joined Slimming World in June 2012 and in 24 weeks got his weight down to 13st 2lb, meaning he no longer takes blood pressure tablets.
"When I was a heavy weight I was suffering high blood pressure and cholesterol problems," he said.
"Now my cholesterol level is what it should be and I don't have to take medication for my blood pressure.
"I decided to do something because of my family's health history – my brother has had a heart bypass and my mother had a stroke before she passed away.
"I used to work away a lot doing campsite security at motorsport events, driving around. I would come home hungry but too tired to cook so I'd pick up an Indian takeaway or other fast food.
"This is the first time since the age of 12 or 13 that I have been my normal weight. When I was younger, I would bunk off cross country. Now I crack off 5k on the treadmill and then enjoy a sauna.
"If I have a meal of meat and veg I make sure a quarter of the plate is potatoes, a quarter is meat, and half is vegetables.
"My partner has also lost weight with Slimming World – down to 10st from 15st 7lb.
"We'd eat takeaways about four or five times a week – now it's more like once a month.
"I went to my GP and said I was sick of taking medication. I was looking at myself in the mirror and decided enough was enough and I had to do something about it.
"Someone recommended Slimming World and I went along to a meeting and gave it a chance.
"Just after I started I said I would do the Santa Run in December. I did just that and raised £100 for charity.
"I was a 52in chest and a 44in waist, now it's a 34 waist and a 42 chest.
"I've had to get a whole new wardrobe from head to toe and Oxfam have done really well out of me. I used to walk around six shops to find clothes that would fit me. Now, I walk around six shops because I cannot decide what to buy."
NICOLA PINKNEY, 42, from Heighington, who works for Anglian Water, joined Slimming World in February and has lost almost 6st 7lb.
"I was a size 24 and now I'm a 16 but I would like to be 12 to 14. I have won the slimmer of the year and Miss Slinky awards at my group in Washingborough," she said.
"My motivation was that I was worried about the health implications if I got diabetes or mobility issues.
"Even walking up stairs would make me so out of breath I couldn't talk properly – it was embarrassing.
"I'm feeling loads better about myself and I have a whole new wardrobe and much more confidence and look forward to nights out and planning what I'm going to wear.
"I do Zumba and cycle five miles each way to and from work about two to three times a week."
AMY REES 31, from Heighington, is a senior residential support worker at the Kisimul school in Swinderby. She has lost just over 5st.
"Five years ago we were trying for a baby and I was told I was unable to conceive without IVF, but I would first have to lose weight," she said. "I lost 2st but was then told I needed to lose 5st. I went away and lost 6½st, became pregnant naturally, and I now have two children, aged 4 and 2.
"Then I decided to go back to trying to lose weight for my health and my kids, to be able to do a full-time job and still have some energy left when I came home.
"At my biggest I was a size 26 and now I'm a size 18, having lost just over 5st. I'm really feeling the benefits."
DONNA HAWLEY, 46, from Carlton Boulevard, Lincoln, is Slimming World's coordinator for the city.
"I have been doing this job for over 10 years and I have kept my weight off all that time," she said.
"I had a weight problem since I was a child and tried every diet, lost weight, but put it back on again.
"At my biggest I was 1lb off 20st. I stopped seeing my relatives because I was big.
"I think what people like about Slimming World is that you can eat the food you like, which means they are more likely to stick to it.
"It's amazing to see how many more years people have put on their lives."
Slimming World clubs are held at Our Lady of Lincoln Church, Ermine, on Tuesdays at 5.30pm and 7.30pm; at the Grandstand, in Carholme Road, at 6pm on Mondays; and at Washingborough Methodist Church Hall, at 6pm on Thursdays. For details, visit www.slimmingworld.com or call 0844 897 8000.