A Dublin couple who shed 13st between them in less than two years have shared their weight loss advice.
Husband and wife Rob and Yvonne Cullen have been together for over 20 years, and said they gradually piled on the pounds over time.
“As a teenager I had epilepsy so I gave up doing sport,” Rob told RSVP Live.
“It was kind of an excuse anyway. I’d say I was slowly gaining weight from when I was 18 up until I was 37.
Yvonne said: “I was a size 10 when I met Rob.
“Then we moved into our house together in 2004 and we started getting takeaways…That was probably the start of it for me.”
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The couple, who have two young sons, said going to a friend’s wedding in Spain was the trigger that made them decide to lose weight.
“We had a great time for five days without the kids. And then I think it kind of hit us when we were on the plane coming home,” Yvonne said.
“I remember that week, just being really tired and down. There were loads of photos and videos from the wedding going around in a WhatsApp group.
“It was the first time we’d actually seen a video of ourselves, we were up dancing and we just looked at ourselves and thought ‘Oh my God.’
Rob agreed: “There was a huge sense of shame looking at that video. We just said ‘OK, we need to do something.’”
The pair decided to make some lifestyle changes, the biggest ones being giving up alcohol and cooking more at home.
“When you think you’re going on a diet, you think you have to give up loads of food,” Yvonne said.
“We didn’t do that – we looked at how we could change our eating habits, cooking more at home and cooking healthier food. Fresh fruit and veg is great, having lots of different colours on the plate.
Rob chimed in: “We didn’t do a huge amount of food prep – that to us seemed like being a diet. Instead we would plan ahead, know what we were going to have for dinner that day and have the ingredients in the house.
“We made our own curries, our own pizzas, our own fish and chips – that way we could control what was going into the food.”
When it came to giving up alcohol, the couple said it hasn’t been too much of a struggle.
“We gave up the drink at the start of our journey, not because we were drinking a lot but we just said we don’t need it,” Rob said.
“We had the two boys, we didn’t particularly like hangovers. The day of the hangover is when you make bad food choices.
“I’ve been to weddings and not drank, I went to a festival in Munich and just drank alcohol-free beer instead of regular beer. It doesn’t bother us – it seems to bother other people more, maybe because they feel guilty about their drinking, I don’t know!”
In less than two years, Rob lost 7st 10lbs and Yvonne lost 5st 7lbs. They said having each other for motivation was a big help.
“We’re always together,” said Yvonne.
“You’ll have days where you’d just want to go mad. But the fact that we have each other, we can support each other. We’ve come so far, we don’t ever want to go back to that feeling of disappointment or shame.
“There’s many a time that Yvonne has taken a biscuit out of my hand,” Rob joked.
Rob and Yvonne now give talks about their weight loss journey, and have set up their own website here where they share tips and recipes.
“Our number one tip is probably to set yourself small, achievable goals at the beginning. If you say you want to lose 5st right off the bat, you’ll feel like you’ve failed if you only lose 2st,” said Yvonne.
Rob added: “Have a strong motivation, a strong ‘why’. If you feel like giving up, remember why you started.”