Sunderland pair named Slimming World’s Couple of the Year

editorial image
Have your say

A COUPLE have celebrated 20 years of marriage by shedding 10 stone.

Graeme and Lisa Wharton now weigh less than they did when they married two decades ago and have been named as Slimming World’s Couple of the Year 2014 in recognition of their achievement.

The Ryhope couple have struggled with their weight since they were teenagers but have now shed a combined weight of 10st 4lbs.

Teacher Lisa, 41, said: “My family always described me as ‘from good stock’ or ‘big-boned’ and Graeme was just told he had ‘puppy fat’ so neither of us worried too much about our size. Then I suppose when we got together we were happy and content and, like a lot of couples, that saw us gain more weight.”

The couple met in 1989 when Lisa was just 16 and Graeme 17. They married five years later and soon settled into family life when their son Jack, now 18, and daughter Alice, now 15, came along.

Lisa said: “I wore a size-18 dress on our wedding day and Graeme’s suit had a 48inch waist. I always say we were blissfully ignorant because we were just young and content, we didn’t realise how big we were or the health implications of our weight. We didn’t think about what we were eating and just concentrated on enjoying our children.”

In 2006 Lisa joined Slimming World and lost 4st 7lbs, but when she stopped attending the weekly group because of new work commitments she found it difficult to keep up healthy eating, especially without the support of her family who weren’t eating the same healthy meals at that time.

By January 2013 Lisa’s clothes were starting to get tight so she decided to rejoin the Sunderland Slimming World group, run by award-winning consultant Wendy George, to get regular support, and this time Graeme came along too.

Taxi driver Graeme, 42, said: “The turning point for me came on Christmas Day 2012. We got dressed up for dinner, put our gladrags on as you do, but I felt so uncomfortable in my smart trousers and shirt because they were tight and I felt like I was spilling out over my trousers. I ended up going home to put my joggers on and that’s when I knew I needed to do something. Lisa had always raved about Wendy and the group and I thought it might help me to go along as well, so I suggested we start going together.”

The couple swapped their diet of ready meals and convenience foods for healthy home-cooked meals like meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta and pulled pork with potato wedges and salad.

Now Graeme has lost 5st 6lbs, dropping from 19st 10lbs to 14st 4lbs and his waist has slimmed from 48ins to 34ins. Meanwhile Lisa is 4st 12lbs lighter now, having gone from 15st 6½lbs to 10st 8½lbs and a dress size 18/20 to a 12.

Inspired by their weight loss, they also began exercising and both have signed up for the Great North Run in September. Graeme will be fund-raising for Meningitis Now and Lisa will be running for Sunderland AFC’s The Foundation of Light.


Breakfast: Big bowl of cereal with milk

Lunch: Ham sandwiches made with white bread rolls and butter, crisps, chocolate bar

Dinner: Something from the freezer, such as a frozen lasagne, pizza or pie, with chips

Snacks: Tea with at least two biscuits per cup, bag of crisps, beer at a weekend.


Breakfast: Eggs (poached, fried in low calorie cooking spray or scrambled) with beans on wholemeal toast or a big bowl of fresh raspberries with fat free yogurt

Mid-morning: A piece of fruit

Lunch: Homemade pasta salad with chicken or tuna, spring onion, peppers, sweetcorn and lots of pasta

Mid-afternoon: High-fibre cereal bar

Dinner: Meatballs in tomato sauce with spaghetti and a large salad or chilli con carne with boiled rice

Snacks: Fruit tea or green tea, packet of crisps such as French Fries or Quavers, bottle of beer or a small glass of wine at a weekend.