A devoted couple have managed nearly 15 stone in weight loss between them after she became fed up with being “the fat mum, fat wife and fat friend” and he was marched off a funfair ride with his son for being too heavy.
Allison Mcluskie, 38, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 15 years ago. Weighing 19st 3lb and wearing a dress size 22/24, she knew that losing weight would improve her mobility, but found it difficult as she could not perform strenuous exercise.
With cooked breakfasts, toasties and takeaways forming the basic diet for her and her 6ft 2in chef husband, Alasdair Mcluskie, 41, who weighed 19st 13lb, they were not setting a healthy example for their son, Jacob, nine, but every time Alison tried to slim she was tempted back to eating calorific food by her husband.
But 5ft 9in Alison, of Dreghorn, near Irvine, Scotland, made a dramatic breakthrough in January 2018 when she joined WW and lost 8st 9lb, saying: “I was determined to lose weight and keep it off this time.
“I was fed up being the fat mum, fat wife and fat friend and wanted to make myself feel better.
“Due to my MS, I was struggling with a lot of basic everyday tasks, so losing weight was one way I knew I could help myself. But, because of my health and being unable to do strenuous exercise, most of my weight loss had to be down to what I ate.”
Allison, whose illness means she cannot work, had a body mass index (BMI) of 39.7 compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 when she signed up to the slimming club, making her obese.
Now a healthy 10st 8lb, with a BMI of 21.8 and a slim size 10/12, she was delighted when in August 2021, Alasdair decided to join her and lost 6st in just six months.
“I’ve always been big," says Allison frankly. "Always the tallest and fattest right through school.
“My mum would take me to slimming classes even when I was a teenager. I was so embarrassed and never really stuck to the plan.
“Over the years I’ve probably been to every slimming club there is. I’ve always lost a bit of weight then went straight back again to my normal eating habits and put it all back on.”
Watch now: The 5 best weight loss tips if you're over 40.
When she finally joined WW, she had hit rock bottom with her weight, saying it was really influencing her moods and damaging her self-confidence.
Also, while there were days when she felt fit and healthy, on others her MS meant she struggled to get out of bed and being overweight only affected her self-esteem further.
“I realised that if I carried on going the way I was that I’d have a heart attack and never see our wee boy grow up. I just wanted to be healthier,” she says.
Allison threw herself into the plan, buying books with new healthy recipes and cooking herself fresh meals full of vegetables.
While her weight loss was slow because she could not combine diet with rigorous exercise due to her MS, she never once gained weight in more than three years on the plan.
With Alasdair constantly trying to tempt her back to bad eating habits, she says this was a miracle.
“I was cooking two or three different dinners every night," she laughs. “I’d make mine and Alasdair would say, ‘Is that all you’re having? I don’t want that.’ Or he’d try to twist my arm for a takeaway!”
She was delighted when he decided to join her on the diet in August 2021 – not least because it meant cooking just one meal a night.
“The stuff we were eating, the junk food, made us feel so run down," she admits. "We’re a lot happier and fitter now and it’s fantastic for Jacob as well.
“He keeps saying, ‘Look how skinny you are!’
“I’d just like to say to anybody that if we can do it, they can. Even if you’re disabled, please don’t think you can’t.”
Inspired by his wife’s success and following a humiliating incident at a funfair, Alasdair joined WW last summer.
“Last summer I was at the fair with Jacob and got marched off a ride for being too big. It was so embarrassing.
“Exactly a week later, I joined Allison at my first WW meeting. I decided something had to change.”
Despite being “stick thin” as a young man, by the time he joined WW, years of unhealthy eating, washed down with calorie-laden booze, had taken its toll on Alasdair, who wore a 42in waist size and whose BMI was 35.8, making him obese.
“I’d seen how well Allison had done, but I was still a bit apprehensive about going on a diet at first," says Alasdair. "I thought I would struggle cutting my portion sizes down, stopping drinking and all that.”
But, losing a whopping 10.5lb in his first week spurred Alasdair on to keep it up.
Sticking with the plan, he cut out alcohol, fizzy drinks, takeaways and started the couch to 5k app.
With husband and wife both using the WW app to track and scan their foods, they now enjoy a breakfast of porridge or muesli, homemade soups and salads for lunch and pasta or risotto for dinner.
Alasdair, now a 34in waist, runs 5k three times a week and has taken up cycling.
In just 25 weeks, he reached his goal weight of 13st 12lb, making his BMI a healthy 24.9.
Between them the couple have lost an astonishing 14st 10lb and are both maintaining their weight, while still attending weekly WW meetings.
Alasdair thanks his wife for his success, saying: “Without Allison, I absolutely could not have done it. I’d have given up.
“She was the one who showed me the ins and outs and reassured me. She was always there to remind me how much I had to lose when I wanted to give in.”
Additional reporting PA