Danny Mann has lost 10½st to honour his father’s final wish, and transformed every bit of his life for the better.
Here, he tells his story…
My weight-loss journey started in April 2019, at a very sad time in my life. Four months earlier, my dad Stephen, who was 68, was told that his cancer was terminal. He’d been having treatment for skin cancer for five years.
Typically stoic, Dad insisted that everyone should “continue as normal, treat me no differently, we all just carry on”.
“I’m not going to be here for that much longer,” he said.
“So you need to sort your weight out, Danny. You need to be here for your family and for your mum too.”
He was right, my weight was affecting my family already – so who knew what might happen if I carried on getting bigger?
“I wasn’t able to lark about with my kids because boisterous games left me out of breath.
My job as a heating engineer installing systems on construction sites was physically demanding – and being overweight made it exhausting.
Some days I struggled to tie my boots, and getting around a big site left me feeling worn out. But it was Dad’s man-to-man talk that really made up my mind.
My wife Deborah had been telling me for weeks that I’d enjoy going to a Slimming World group, but I had serious doubts because I’m shy, so the idea of being in a room full of strangers was daunting.
Deborah wanted to lose weight too though, so when she said she’d join with me I agreed to give it a go.
On that first day at the group the Consultant Tamina and the other members were so friendly I immediately felt at ease, and they were full of brilliant tips and ideas.
Then came the time to find out my weight and I had to look twice at the number that flashed up: 24st 8½lbs – far more than I’d thought. Tamina’s confidence that I could do it made me feel positive though and I left the session feeling ready for the challenge.
At first, it definitely felt daunting. The takeaways I’d been having on site every day, the cans of beer I’d drink every evening – all of it had to change. Deborah and I started planning our meals for the week together. We stuck with what we knew to begin with – spaghetti bolognese and roast dinners – before getting more adventurous.
I discovered a healthy Chinese sauce mix, which I’d use to make chicken curry. It tasted just as good as the one I’d usually order from the Chinese. And for lunch, I’d have leftovers from the previous night’s homemade dinner.
In two weeks I’d lost a stone, never once having felt hungry. Six weeks later and 2st 4½lbs lighter, I got the call I’d been dreading. My dad had slipped away quietly with mum and my uncle at his bedside. He was our hero, and he was also a dispenser of wisdom.
What was it he’d said? “We all just carry on…”.
“I want to go to Slimming World tonight,” I said suddenly to Deborah. An hour later we were sitting in the group. I knew I’d made the right decision to be there, honouring Dad’s wishes.
My grief was hard to deal with over the following months, but it also fuelled my conviction that I would change my life. The weight continued to come off, and feeling more determined than ever, I reset my target to 14st.
I began to feel fitter than I had in years. At work I discovered that I could get around easily now without feeling tired.
At the beginning of March, just before lockdown, I achieved my target weight of 14st. It felt amazing to share my success with Deborah. She had done brilliantly as well, losing 2st 9lbs. The kids noticed that we had more energy to run around with them too.
We got out of the house every weekend going for walks and playing games outside. I was the first to run around after the kids, which was exactly what Dad wanted. I actually liked exercising and seeing my body change.
I also discovered one of my favourite things was cycling.
Recently, at the peak of one of my favourite cycle routes, I paused and thought about how I’ve come so far, and how proud I am of what I’ve achieved. Even through these strange times, I never lost sight of the inspiration behind it all. I looked down towards my childhood home and said quietly:
“I did it all for you, Dad.”
I’d like to think that he’d be proud of what I’ve achieved.