Dreading burning off those festive pounds? You needn’t — because losing weight has never been so easy thanks to our Weight Watchers Flex® weight-loss plan.
Starting today with a free, 32-page magazine in the bag with Weekend and continuing all next week with exclusive pullouts, we’re giving you dozens of delicious Weight Watchers recipes to help you shed up to a stone in just eight weeks — without going hungry.
How? This year, Weight Watchers has expanded its SmartPoints® plan to bring you more than 200 foods that are zero points. Yes, that’s right — zero points.
Tuck in to chicken and turkey, fish, pulses, eggs and almost every fruit and vegetable in whatever portion sizes you want — and, as the recipes in today’s free magazine show, a zero-point meal can be a real feast, from warming winter ragu to indulgent Eton Mess.
Here, five people who have shed an astonishing 20 stone between them reveal how Weight Watchers has changed their lives — and waistlines — for ever…
Finally the pounds are staying off for good
Sandra Carnavale, 49, who lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has lost 3 st, going from 11 st 7 lb to 8 st 7 lb. A childminder, she is married to Dominic, who runs his own business. They have two sons, aged 21 and 16.
This Christmas was the fourth in a row at which I have been able to wear gorgeous party dresses; the fourth where I have felt happy, confident and fabulous.
And that’s all down to Weight Watchers. Even in my younger days, I never felt this good — when I met my husband 30 years ago, I was heavier than I am now.
I’ve long wrestled with my weight, putting on a lot each time I fell pregnant, then dieting hard on whatever plan I could find to get it off.
Before: Sandra Carnavale (pictured), 49, who lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has lost 3 st, going from 11 st 7 lb to 8 st 7 lb
But nothing lasted. At my heaviest, I weighed more than 12 st, far too much for my 5 ft 3 in frame. My weaknesses were crisps, cheese and wine — I craved savoury treats.
Something of an epiphany came in 2013, when we went to Italy. I feasted on all the lovely local food, but I felt uncomfortable in my clothes and I was breathless. When I sat down, my shirts gaped and I felt the pressure of my muffin top.
After the trip, I looked at pictures and I knew I couldn’t simply buy a larger dress size again.
By now, I hated buying any clothes because I disliked looking at myself so much. I felt so low. But I had the sense to realise the only person who could change things was me.
So I joined Weight Watchers. While I felt a bit strange in my first meeting, I’ve been every week I can since and it’s kept me positive when things haven’t gone right or have been hard.
Actually, I’ve found it so successful that I met my goal of losing 2 st in only three months.
After: ‘The transformation of losing 3 st — especially for my small frame — has been nothing short of life-changing.’
But what’s really amazing is that I’ve lost more since. It’s given me the confidence to exercise — today I go to the gym around four times a week, and love it — and even use a personal shopper to help me buy my first Christmas party dress in a slimmer size.
Better still, I haven’t had to give up my treats. I can eat cheese, I just make sure it’s low-fat mature Cheddar rather than huge lumps of Stilton.
Instead of Pringles, I buy crisps low in SmartPoints and I still drink fizz and white wine — I just save up my points for them.
The old days of laziness and comfort eating are gone — but I can still live. I have lovely holidays, weekends away and parties. Weight Watchers is real food, I’m just more careful now.
The transformation of losing 3 st — especially for my small frame — has been nothing short of life-changing.
I’m six stone lighter and I still eat curry
Matt Bradley, 42, from Willaston, Cheshire, has lost more than 6 st — going from 17 st 13 lb to 11 st 7 lb — and 10 in from his waist. An RAF engineer, he lives with his partner, Liz, and their son, Oscar, five.
What was the moment I knew I needed to lose weight? With hindsight, there were many, but finding myself short of breath after bending to cut my toenails last year was a particular low.
As was the incident a few days before, when my son joked I had a belly like Santa Claus.
He wasn’t wrong — the scales showed I was 17 st 13 lb, my heaviest weight ever. I may be 5 ft 11 in tall, but I was still dangerously overweight.
Before: Matt Bradley, 42, from Willaston, Cheshire, has lost more than 6 st — going from 17 st 13 lb to 11 st 7 lb — and 10 in from his waist
My weaknesses were alcohol and chocolate. And although working for the RAF meant I had to stay reasonably active in order to pass the twice-yearly fitness test, my size bothered me.
I would laugh easily and appear outgoing, but deep down I felt really self-conscious about my body. Shopping for clothes was something I particularly hated.
Then came the toenail indignity and I knew something had to change. One of my colleagues was a Weight Watchers member and I’d seen how well it had worked for her. So I signed up.
I’m quite a competitive person and losing 7 lb in my first week spurred me on. It was all made easier by the fact the Weight Watchers recipes were so good — I could eat garlic chicken curry and even carrot cake.
I quickly gained the confidence to start running again and it wasn’t long before I was managing five miles most days. Headphones on, I’d just go for it — it was exhilarating.
After: Matt says: ‘At 42, I’m 2 st lighter than I was at 22. It’s just incredible.’
My new, healthier lifestyle meant I soon reached my goal weight of 11 st 13 lb. To celebrate, I treated myself to my old favourite takeaway: battered sausage, chips and curry sauce.
But after a few mouthfuls, I realised I wasn’t enjoying it. My whole mindset around food had changed. I went on to lose another 6 lb, making a total loss of 6 st 6 lb altogether, and a huge 10 in off my waist.
I’ve kept a pair of my old 42 in-waist shorts as a reminder not to return to my old ways. But I’ve gained so much belief in myself.
I can still enjoy the odd beer, a Nando’s lunch here and there, and this year I had a proper Christmas dinner — all this is possible with Weight Watchers.
At 42, I’m 2 st lighter than I was at 22. It’s just incredible.
At last I banished my mum tum blues
Vicky Redden, 38, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, has lost 3 st, going from 13 st 3 lb to 10 st 3 lb — she’s dropped from a size 18 to a size 10. Married to Neil, they have two children, Amy, 11, and Oliver, nine.
When I started Weight Watchers, I was just a mum trying to lose her tum. I was never overweight when I was younger, but, like many women, my tummy never really recovered from my two pregnancies in my late 20s.
Then, when I faced a series of difficulties in my early 30s, things spiralled out of control.
First, my mum became very ill, then my beloved dad died after a short illness — and the third and final blow came when I was made redundant from my job in retail.
I turned to food for comfort, and my stomach became the part of my body I hated the most.
Before: Vicky Redden, 38, from Littlehampton, West Sussex, has lost 3 st, going from 13 st 3 lb to 10 st 3 lb — she’s dropped from a size 18 to a size 10
Looking back, it wasn’t difficult to see what caused the weight gain. The biscuit tin became my best friend.
Every evening once my children were in bed, I’d settle down with a cup of tea and polish off a whole packet of biscuits.
I felt tired and stressed, so for a long time I would eat a pizza or ready meal for dinner.
The weight started to creep on. As my clothes got bigger, I became an expert at denial.
‘So what if my jeans have gone from a size 14 to a 16?’ I’d tell myself. Then, when jeans no longer fitted, leggings and a horrible baggy pink cardigan became my uniform.
My husband loved me whatever size I was, but even he began to worry as my mood plummeted. At my biggest, I was a size 18, weighing 13 st 3 lb — far too much for my 5 ft 3 in frame.
After: Vicky says: ‘People have always called me a happy person, but now when I look at photos of myself at 13 st, I can see that my smile wasn’t genuine like it is today. This is my real smile, because this is the real me.’
My weight affected everything, from family holidays — when I’d avoid getting in the pool — to friends’ weddings, which would leave me feeling upset for days when I saw myself in pictures.
So, finally, I joined Weight Watchers and a gym in February 2016. When exercising, I could manage only a few minutes of exertion before I had to stop, sweaty and out of breath.
Fast-forward two years and I feel like a different person — I’ve run a 10k charity race, with friends and family cheering me across the finishing line.
Weight Watchers Flex has helped me juggle losing weight with a busy family life. Today, I’m a size 10 and weigh 10 st 3 lb. I keep thinking of my late dad and how proud he would be of me.
People have always called me a happy person, but now when I look at photos of myself at 13 st, I can see that my smile wasn’t genuine like it is today. This is my real smile, because this is the real me.
I’ve never looked – or felt – so good
Katie Rhodes, 41, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has lost 3 st 9 lb, going from a size 18 to a size 10-12. She lives with her second husband, Martin, and her children, Saskia, 16, Olivia, 15, and Jasper, ten.
I’ll be honest: in my 20s, I felt middle-aged and frumpy.
My looks took a downwards turn when I became pregnant aged 24. I was so happy in my baby bubble I didn’t care what I looked like.
After giving birth, I dabbled with low-carb and meal-replacement diets to try to lose a few pounds, but I always put the weight back on.
Before: Katie Rhodes, 41, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has lost 3 st 9 lb, going from a size 18 to a size 10-12
Then I had my second daughter, and although I was only 25, I looked 20 years older.
I started to avoid going out and was eating more and more — I could polish off 12 Cadbury Creme Eggs in a single day. I’d even eat in secret, hiding the wrappers, because I was so embarrassed.
I fell pregnant with my son in 2007 and couldn’t see how my body would ever improve. I no longer felt happy in my skin.
Today, I understand just how profoundly mental health can affect your weight. For me, it became a vicious cycle — the more weight I put on, the less happy I was, so the more I ate.
Lacking confidence, I started to live in tunics and leggings rather than the fashionable clothes I loved, and I would hide away at the back of photos.
In 2012, I separated from my first husband and met Martin. It was a very difficult time, but Martin made me so happy; I knew I’d met my soulmate.
After Kate says: ‘Today, I’m confident and happy knowing that I’ll be keeping up my healthy lifestyle for ever.’
Just two years later, he proposed! He’d even taken my children with him to help choose the ring. I was thrilled, but knew I had to get a grip on my weight.
I was a size 16-18 and had 4 st to lose, but with my wedding to look forward to, I found the motivation and committed to Weight Watchers.
I’ll admit, there were times when I felt daunted. For example, when I had to list something I liked about myself during a meeting I struggled to think of anything.
Looking at the blank piece of paper in front of me, I thought: ‘I can’t do that, there’s nothing great about me.’ But I realised I had to start being kinder to myself.
With renewed determination, I got to my goal weight just less than a year later, and fitted perfectly into my size 10 wedding dress. This time I was happy to be the focus of the photos!
Today, I’m confident and happy knowing that I’ll be keeping up my healthy lifestyle for ever.
My whole family has joined in too!
Mariam Kamran, 42, who lives in London, has lost 4 st, going from 16 st 3 lb to 12 st 3 lb. Married to Kamran, they have two daughters, aged 12 and nine.
Looking back, it was the moment I got married and moved in with my husband that everything started to go wrong with my weight.
I ate whatever I wanted — always cakes and chocolates — not the healthy meals my mother used to cook for me.
Things got worse when I had my first daughter in 2005. I was a working mum and was incredibly busy — I realised I was looking after everyone but myself.
Before: Mariam Kamran, 42, who lives in London, has lost 4 st, going from 16 st 3 lb to 12 st 3 lb
I had a long commute to central London and would either skip breakfast completely or grab a croissant from Costa. Lunch could be a Snickers bar and a cup of tea, or a samosa from a corner shop on Carnaby Street.
I became so overweight that my knees and joints ached when I’d run up and down the stairs between underground stations.
I weighed more than 16st when I joined Weight Watchers in 2014. The pounds fell off steadily, and today I weigh 12 st 3 lb, much better for my 5 ft 3 in frame.
Finally I’ve found a plan that fits perfectly into my lifestyle. The zero-points food list is so vast that I find it very easy to follow — so much so that I can make up my own recipes.
At first, I cooked Weight Watchers Flex meals only for myself, while still cooking normal meals for the rest of the family, but the girls were so jealous of my food that the whole family has joined in — and they love it.
At last, I’ve realised I can still look after my family while looking after me, too.
After Mariam says: ‘At last, I’ve realised I can still look after my family while looking after me, too.’