06/04/2017 12:07 BST

Couple Lose 11.5 Stone Between Them After Husband Forced To Ask For Belt Extension On Plane

Here's how they did it.

Having to ask for a seat belt extension on a plane drove a couple to shed more than 11.5 stone, then win a slimming award.

Mark Gibbon was so mortified he decided to get fit and was later told by his doctor he had added 20 years to his life.

The 53-year-old lost 7st 11½lbs, going from 20st 10½lbs to 12st 13lbs, and dropped 14 inches from his waist. 

He was joined in his quest by his wife Amanda Gibbon, 46, who fled a changing room in tears after failing to find anything that fit.

She lost 3st 10lbs, going from 13st 8½lbs to 9st 12½lbs, and dropped from a size 18 to a 10.


The grandparents, from Chepstow in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, overhauled their eating habits, and took up walking and running in order to lose the weight.

They have now been named Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2017.

Their achievement comes just days after new NHS figures found that a quarter of people are so sedentary that they don’t even manage a 30 minute walk once a week.

Mr Gibbon said: “It was beyond embarrassing having to ask for a seatbelt extension, you just know all eyes are on you and can almost hear people whispering ‘look, he needs a seatbelt extension’. 

“And the worst thing is that you know you’re going to have to ask for one on the way back too.

“Meanwhile, Amanda hated shopping and on one occasion ended up fleeing a changing room in floods of tears because she couldn’t find anything to fit and hated seeing herself from every angle in the mirror. 

“It was things like that that made us think that something really needed to change.”

The couple, who have three children and two grandchildren, said they have always struggled with their weight, but despite endless diets, nothing worked.

But after both of their embarrassing incidents, they decided to take action and joined Slimming World last July on the recommendation of their daughter Rachel, 29. 

They also encouraged nine relatives to lose weight, and as a family they have now lost a total of 24st 9lbs between them. 


Mr Gibbon said: “It was never supposed to be my weight-loss journey, I was going to follow the plan at home to support Amanda and that was it. 

“I thought a Slimming World group would be a roomful of ladies and didn’t think that would suit me because of that, but little did I know how inspirational those ladies would be. 

“Our group is like a family to us now.” 

Mrs Gibbon said: “I told Mark I needed him to come in with me and the rest is history.

“Life is just amazing now. We’re healthier – Mark’s doctor told him that he’s probably added 20 years to his life – and so much fitter. 

“We love running around after our grandchildren instead of being ‘Nan and Bamp’ who just sit in the chair or puff and pant after just five minutes of playing.

“This isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life for us now and we’re not going to let go of everything that we’ve gained thanks to Slimming World. 

“We always tell people: the hardest part is walking through the doors, the rest is easy.

“We’ve learned how to cook from scratch and experiment with flavours – we often joke that we didn’t know what a butternut squash or courgette was before Slimming World.

“The biggest change we made was starting to plan our meals though.”

The pair have also started their own walking group with some members of their Slimming World group in Chepstow.


Vital Stats:


Mark Gibbon:

Height: 6ft/1.83m

Starting weight: 20st 10½lbs/290½lbs/132kg    

Current weight: 12st 13lbs/181lbs/82kg

Weight loss: 7st 11½lbs/109½lbs/50kg 

 Starting waist measurement: 48”/122cm

 Starting chest measurement: 50”/127cm

 Current waist measurement: 34”/86cm

 Current chest measurement: 44”/112cm

 Date joined Slimming World: July 2016


Amanda Gibbon: 

Height: 5ft 6in/1.67 

Starting weight: 13st 8½lbs/190½lbs/86kg  

Current weight: 9st 12½lbs/138½lbs/63kg

Weight loss: 3st 10lbs/52lbs/23kg

Starting dress size: 18

Current dress size: 10/12

Date joined Slimming World: July 2016


Before menu:

Breakfast: Cooked full English, bacon and egg roll or sugary cereal (Crunchy Nut Cornflakes were a favourite)

Lunch: Something from a petrol station like pork pies, sausage rolls and crisps.

Dinner: Processed foods like curry made with a jarred sauce with sauces, followed by apple pie with ice cream or custard.

Snacks: Crisps, chocolate bars, biscuits, cakes, buttery toast, sandwiches


After menu:

Breakfast: Poached eggs on toast or overnight oats (porridge oats mixed with fat-free yogurt and fresh fruit).

Mid-morning: Fruit or veg sticks

Lunch: Homemade butternut squash soup or a salad

Mid-afternoon: Fruit

Dinner: Seafood paella or lamb with green veg stir fry, followed by a fat-free yogurt  or stewed apple with mincemeat

Evening: A small bar of chocolate.

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