Derry teacher, Ryan Quinn, lost an amazing ten stone over lockdown and has been named Slimming World's Mr Sleek 2022
Ryan Quinn, a music teacher at Derry's St Cecelia's College, had struggled with his weight since he was a teenager but an embarrassing incident at work prompted him to make a change.
The 32-year-old said: “I’d just started in a new school and went along to the morning assembly.
"I sat myself down on a table and it just completely collapsed beneath me – in front of 900 students. It was mortifying but I just brushed it off with a joke like I always did.
“I always used to make the excuse that I was too busy to cook or think about eating healthily, but lockdown actually meant I ran out of excuses.
"I had more free time than ever, yet from March to September 2020, I gained two stone. I really couldn’t blame that on being too busy.”
Ryan, who was 22 stone at the start of his weight loss journey, was encouraged to join Slimming World by a friend who wanted to lose weight for her wedding.
Ryan continued: “My friend Amanda decided to join Slimming World and asked me to come along too, so for the first time ever I actually agreed.
"Slimming World was nothing like I’d ever tried before. In the past I’d tried the egg diet, the cabbage soup diet- they all left me feeling deprived and didn’t teach me anything about food. Slimming World was totally different.”
Ryan learned about Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan, which enables slimmers to lose weight without hunger or restriction.
Ryan said: “The best thing about Food Optimising is the freedom to choose. I’d tried diets where everything is massively restricted, and they just don’t work.
"I made some really simple swaps, like changing oil for low-calorie cooking spray and opting for leaner cuts of meat – and it made such a big difference.
"I soon found that my food actually tasted better because it was fresh and home-made. I loved how I could tailor the plan to suit my own likes and dislikes.
"I never really felt restricted and that definitely contributed to my success. I love that I can still enjoy a drink when I fancy one or a meal out with friends.
The Derry man has since lost an incredible 10 stone and says his life and confidence is now unrecognisable.
“Fortunately, I didn’t really struggle with my health before I lost weight, I just always felt self-conscious about my size.
"I’m a music teacher and take part in musical performances, which is actually more active than you might think, so I often got quite out of breath.
"I remember being in an orchestra pit and just being really aware of how much space I was taking up.
“Another time, I was moving house and after a day of heavy lifting I had a nagging chest pain that really bothered me.
"I went to see a doctor because I genuinely thought I might have had a heart attack. It turned out to be a pulled muscle, I just wasn’t used to such physical labour.”
Soon after joining Slimming World, Ryan’s group in Sion Mills switched to an online service as the country entered a national lockdown.
Ryan said: “I really enjoyed the group setting so I was disappointed that we couldn’t continue in person. The online sessions were still really valuable though and much of my weight loss took place in lockdown.
"I found the other members really supportive, and it was so motivating to be surrounded by people on a similar journey.
“My Consultant, Sinead, was incredible too. She had a really great reputation in the area, and it soon became clear why; she is just the most caring and motivating person. I really couldn’t have done it without her.
"Because she has lost weight herself with Slimming World, she knows how it feels to have ups and downs along the way and always seems to know the right thing to say.
“The group setting really helped me to understand my triggers around food and find strategies to overcome any situations that were potentially tricky for me, like going on holiday.
"It was reassuring to know that even though I couldn’t control all of the food that would be on offer, I could make healthier choices and then get right back to Food Optimising when I got home. That kind of know-how is invaluable to me and makes the plan sustainable.”
Now just over a year later, Ryan has been named Slimming World’s Mr Sleek 2022, a competition to acknowledge members who have become happier and more confident since losing weight.
One area of life in which Ryan feels much more confident is his love life, which has certainly picked up since losing weight.
He said: “When I was bigger, I didn’t even attempt online dating because I just didn’t have the confidence. Now I feel much better about myself, and I think that shows.
"I’ve recently started dating my boyfriend, Kieran, and things are going really well. It’s something I didn’t really allow myself to think about when I was overweight.”
Ryan’s weight-loss journey has also paved the way for him to become much more active and he’s now a keen walker.
Ryan continued: “Before losing weight even the simplest tasks would leave me out of breath. Now I love to get out in the countryside and go for a good walk. I find it’s really beneficial for both my body and my mind. I find work a lot easier too; I think nothing of being on my feet all day.
“It might sound cliché but losing weight really has been life changing for me. Looking back, a lot of my worries were all connected to my weight.
"My friend Amanda, who I joined Slimming World with, got married recently and we both felt incredible on the day. She’d lost three and a half stone and looked beautiful.
“In the past, a wedding invite would have been reason for me to worry about what to wear, or dread bumping into someone I hadn’t seen in a while in case they noticed I’d gained weight.
"Now, I can genuinely look forward to living my life. The future feels so bright now, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.”
You can view a video of Ryan’s weight-loss journey here.
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