My thin- spiration!

It was love at first sight but would I lose weight...or Nicola?

Published by: Karen Armstrong and Claire Walker
Published on: 23rd March 2010

With a basket of double scampi and chips in one hand, and a pint of Irn-Bru in the other, I sauntered to my table.
Well, it was more like waddled. When you have to wear XXXXXL,   it’s hard to be Mr Smooth!
Despite wobbling my way around sniggering punters, I was determined to enjoy bingo!
It was my weekly treat, spending Saturday night at the bingo hall in Edinburgh, where I lived. My sister Jeanette, 41, and me were hooked.
Dabber in one hand, fork in the other, I was set up for the evening.
‘Legs 11,’ the caller boomed.
‘I can hardly hear the caller with you munching,’ Jeanette groaned.
‘Chicken vindaloo, number 52,’ the caller cried.
‘I could do with one of those,’ I mumbled, mouth full of chips.
‘You’ve got a plateful there,’ my sis tutted.
‘Two fat ladies,’ the caller boomed.
‘Nah, one fat bloke,’ Jeanette teased.
‘Whatever!’ I sneered. A few hours later, I collected my £50 winnings, and spent £20 on a Chinese on the way home.
‘Where do you put it?’ Jeanette sighed. ‘You had a takeaway last night!’
‘Yeah, saag aloo, two naans, rice and a chicken balti,’ I replied, laughing.
At 6ft 2in, I was nicknamed Big Scott. I had to wear 56in trousers! Still, as long as I had my bingo and a plate of chips, what was wrong with carrying a little extra weight?
Soon, I had another bingo hall’s grub to get my teeth into. Me and sis were off to Musselburgh with our parents Jeanette, 64, and George, 62, to stay in their caravan. And the town’s bingo hall did cracking sausage and chips!
A week later, I got our bingo books and man alive – number five – a beautiful girl handed them over.
‘There you go,’ she smiled.
‘Cheers,’ I mumbled. I was normally ready with the banter, but this girl had me flustered.
I was lost for words as she introduced herself as Nicola.
‘I’ve a little boy Liam, he’s four. Do you have any kids?’ she asked, but I’d no words to give her, so she chatted on. ‘I only moved round here recently, with my boyfriend…’
My heart sank. Boyfriend? Great. Then I saw my reflection. What was I thinking? My three chins wobbled, and my huge belly stuck out. Fat chance she’d fancy me.
That night, I looked in the mirror, and it hit me – I was massive. Women looked at me and
all they saw was a lazy bloater.
Nicola was tall, blonde, and had gorgeous curves. She’d never fancy this fatty.
‘What am I going to do?’ I groaned to Jeanette the next day.
‘Join a slimming club,’ she said. ‘It worked for me.’ She was doing WeightWatchers, and had lost 2st.
So, a week later, in July 2007, I signed up. ‘Hop on the scales,’ the group leader smiled.
I hesitated, scared and ashamed of what I might weigh. ‘Relax,’ she said. ‘You’re among friends here.’
‘Woah,’ I cried, seeing the needle almost bounce off the dial.
I was 31st – almost three times the man I should’ve been.
I listened as the leader explained about food planning and portion control. So I threw away my takeaway menus, and took to walking in my lunch hour at the call centre where I worked.
Usually, I only moved to get chocolate from the vending machine. But in three weeks, I was walking four miles in an hour.
The biggest thing though was ditching bingo. ‘My Saturday night revolves around bingo and takeaways,’ I told Jeanette. ‘I have to avoid temptation.’
And my inspiration when I was tempted? Nicola.
In my first week, I lost 10lb. A fortnight later, 1st. In six months, I’d lost 6st!
I was ready to see Nicola again. So the next time we visited the caravan…‘Can we go and play bingo?’ I asked Mum.
‘That place has closed, we’re playing somewhere new,’ she said.
‘Oh,’ I replied, heart sinking. ‘So… has Nicola moved on?’
‘No,’ Mum shrugged. ‘She works in the new place. The poor girl’s split up with her boyfriend…’
I wasn’t listening, though. She was single, and now she’d see the new slim-line me!
Trying to hide my nervous, sweaty palms in my pockets, I walked in. Bet Nicola doesn’t notice… ‘Wow, Scott, you look great,’ she called, smiling. ‘I’ve missed you.’
Nicola missed me! Doesn’t mean she fancies you though, I reminded myself.
At 24st, I was still big, but determined to shed more flab. Maybe then she’d fancy me.
I left determined to crack on with the diet. Last March, I’d lost a further 8st – and was off to the bingo hall to ask her out.
I was terrified but, as she passed me my bingo books, our hands touched… Electric.
‘I-I-I never had the guts to ask you out before,’ I admitted.
‘Why not?’ Nicola asked.
‘Come on, I was huge,’ I smiled.
‘Scott, I liked you big or slim,’ she said, kissing me. Bingo!
Over time, with Nicola’s loving help, I lost 20in off my waist. ‘I’m so proud,’ she said.
Last July, I proposed. Nicola was pregnant. ‘Number three – you and me,’ I said, bending down on one knee – in the bingo hall!
We married in December and on Valentine’s Day, our little girl Nieve was born. I’ll never go back to being a bingo bloater.
I really have loved and lost – and still come out a winner. And with Nicola, Liam and Nieve by my side, I’ve got the Full House!
Scott Clunie, 28, Musselburgh, Midlothian