Competitive slimming couple who refuse to be beaten by each other at weigh-ins or on the treadmill lose 12 stone together

A couple who binged together then slimmed together – losing 12 stone between them – say their competitive streak keeps their marriage in shape. When chocoholic Clare Ward, 46, and her husband, Ian, 52, a forklift truck driving instructor, agreed to join their friend’s weight loss group in August 2020, it was simply to show their support after she landed a new job as a consultant. But at 22st 9lb, Clare, a student support officer, and Ian, who was 18st 11lb, were soon racing each other on the treadmill and competing to lose the most at Slimming World weigh-ins.

Clare and Ian joined Slimming World in August 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare and Ian joined Slimming World in August 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare, who lives in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, with Ian and their student daughter, Chloe, 18, said: “A couple that slims together stays together.”

For a long while, Clare and Ian’s vision of paradise had been cosy nights in with a plateful of pie and a cupboard full of chocolates. But, at 5ft 3in and a size 28, Clare’s body mass index (BMI) use to gauge a healthy weight, was 56.1, compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9, while 5ft 2in Ian was a 44 inch waist and size 4XL and had a BMI of 48.3 – meaning they were both obese.

Clare and Ian were vital to supporting each other's weight loss when the UK was forced into lockdown in December 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare and Ian were vital to supporting each other’s weight loss when the UK was forced into lockdown in December 2020 (Collect/PA Real Life).

While their feelings for each other were too strong to be affected by expanding waistlines, their love for joint pursuits soon proved a formidable asset when they joined the slimming club. Within 15 months, the pair lost 12 stone between them – with Clare weighing in at 15st, a size 16 and Ian dropping 4st 2lb to a 34 inch waist and a size large.

Clare said: “It’s so much better when it’s the two of us, as we love doing things together. Losing weight together was ideal.” She added: “We’re very competitive and it really helps to keep the weight off.

Neither one of us wants to fall behind, or get beaten on the treadmill.” Always subconsciously aware of her plus size body before she lost weight, Clare says she would even leave extra room when she parked her car, in case she could not squeeze herself out. “I’ve always been big, although I never really did anything about it,” she said.

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  • Breakfast: two thick slices of white bread, butter and jam

  • Lunch: Sandwich, packet of crisps, chocolate

  • Snack: M&M’s, Maltesers

  • Dinner: Pie and potatoes

  • Evening snack: Glass of wine, big family size bar of chocolate

She added: “Subconsciously I knew it was an issue. “If I parked in a busy car park, I would try to get as far over as possible to make sure I had enough room to get out of the car. “Also, clothes shopping was a nightmare.

I hated it and wore baggy wide fit trousers and loose fitting tops, nothing that showed my figure at all.”

Ian, pictured with Clare, is now four stone lighter weighing 14st 2lbs (Collect/PA Real Life).

Ian, pictured with Clare, is now four stone lighter weighing 14st 2lbs (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “I had to buy everything online. I wore something because it would do rather than because I was really happy with it.” Married for 22 years after meeting at an amateur dramatics group, the couple have always been inseparable, doing everything – including overeating – together.

“Ian has always been big as well, certainly since we’ve been together,” said Clare. She added: “I’m a real chocoholic and we would sit down in the evening with a glass of wine and big bars of chocolate. We just indulged together.

“Dinner was always something easy like pie or a frozen meal. We didn’t eat anything healthy. “Our weight was affecting us, but we just didn’t realise.

Ian was having issues with his back and was struggling with his walking.”

Clare has lost over seven stone with Slimming World (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare has lost over seven stone with Slimming World (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “I would constantly have indigestion after every meal. The first thing I would eat after food would be indigestion tablets. “But it never made us think twice about our weight.”

When their pal Amanda Poole asked them to support her when she started as a consultant for Slimming World, they agreed to go to her group, but had no intention of being transformed into weight loss champions. “One of our friends, Amanda, trained to be a consultant before we went into the first lockdown,” said Clare. “She asked me to come and do this group, so I was like,’ Yeah, all right, I’ll come along and I’ll bring Ian as well.’

“Initially, it was just to support her in her new job. But then Ian and I got so into it.”

Clare loves her new found confidence thanks to her weight loss (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare loves her new found confidence thanks to her weight loss (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “When we first started out and we were both losing weight consistently, we’d keep track of our loss on our motivational board on the fridge. “I’d be like, ‘You’ve lost more than me this week, that’s not fair!’ We would keep each other going and the motivational board encouraged us.

“It was a great way to stay on track.” With their new weight loss programme in full swing, the UK was thrown into a winter lockdown in December 2020, forcing the couple’s slimming group online at one of the most gluttonous times of the year. “In December when we locked down again, Slimming World went virtual,” said Clare.

“It wasn’t the same atmosphere when we sat in front of a Zoom call – especially over Christmas when there were lots of chocolate temptations.”

Clare reveals the secret to her slimming success was losing weight with her husband of 22 years (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare reveals the secret to her slimming success was losing weight with her husband of 22 years (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “But slimming together was really helpful. We kept each other on track.” Soon they were united in overhauling their lifestyle – ditching their chocolate filled nights for romantic walks, which soon turned into competitive power walks.

“During lockdown, we started going for a walk just to try and get some activity in,” said Clare.

Clare hated clothes shopping due to her size 28 frame before joining slimming world (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare hated clothes shopping due to her size 28 frame before joining slimming world (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “Then we started going swimming when the pools reopened. Now, we do full on gym workouts and swimming. “We’ve really increased our activity levels, as we’ve been losing weight, just to keep it going as well – but it has got a bit competitive in the gym!”

Still, their desire to beat each other has made losing weight more fun.

  • Breakfast: Muesli, fat free yogurt, fresh fruit

  • Lunch: Mixed leaves and salmon salad or portion of left over dinner. Ian has a sandwich

  • Dinner: Slimming World recipe like hunters chicken or cottage pie

  • Evening: Small crunchie bar

“We’re very competitive with each other,” laughed Clare. “When we’re on the treadmills, we’ll make sure we’ve got them set at the same speed.

“Ian doesn’t like if mine’s going slightly faster than his.”

Clare says

Clare says “couples that slim together stay together.” (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “We ask each other things like, ‘How many minutes are you doing on that?’ Or, we’ll say, ‘If you’re doing that many minutes, then I’m doing that many minutes, too.’ “It’s a bit of healthy competition. We never make bets or anything like that, but we keep each other motivated.”

And this healthy competition between them has made them happier than ever – as they celebrate their collective 12st weight loss, they are now hoping to each lose another two stone to reach target.

Clare now weighs 15st (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare now weighs 15st (Collect/PA Real Life).

“I feel fantastic,” said Clare. “It’s weird, I wouldn’t pose for pictures before I’d lost the weight. I was always the one taking photos and avoiding the camera.

“Now I’m always saying, ‘Let’s take a picture,’ or snapping selfies.” She added: “But the best part has been slimming with Ian. “We’re a really close family and doing this together has been very special, as we get to share our success.”

And when Clare sits down to Christmas dinner this year, she will be 7st lighter than she was last year.

The pair have a motivational board on the fridge to keep each other on plan (Collect/PA Real Life).

The pair have a motivational board on the fridge to keep each other on plan (Collect/PA Real Life).

“I got this fantastic elf outfit for Christmas jumper day,” she said. “It’s a size 12-14, so I was really chuffed with that. I’m looking forward to wearing it and to being 7st lighter than usual when I enjoy the festivities this year.

“We usually just celebrate as a family of three and have some quality time together, but this year will be more measured – only the turkey will be feeling stuffed!”

Clare was over the moon when she purchased a size 12-14 elf outfit for this Christmas (Collect/PA Real Life).

Clare was over the moon when she purchased a size 12-14 elf outfit for this Christmas (Collect/PA Real Life).

Ian agrees that the healthy competition between them has been key to their weight loss success.

He said: “I’ve loved the competitiveness this has brought out in us, but I’m pleased to say that Clare is definitely the biggest loser!”