Brian waved the sponsorship form under my nose. ‘Bet you can’t top that!’ he scoffed, pointing to the total amount he’d raised from his colleagues at the hospital.

‘Impressive!’ I laughed. ‘But you’ve still another £50 to go until you beat me.’

We were both fundraising for the same cause – a local cancer charity – but like everything else it had turned into a competition between us. Thing was, neither of us could bear being beaten by the other.

‘You certainly don’t do things by half!’ our friends joked.

And we didn’t, especially when it came to eating. Truth was, that was the one thing that we were both equally good at.

I was already on the ‘cuddly’ side as a generous size 14 and Bryan was a triple XL when we met. But it was when I fell pregnant with Jamie, now five, a year after we married that the weight really started to pile on.

And of course, if I was ‘eating for two’, competitive Bryan was eating for three!

But it was after Jamie was born that our weight really began to spiral out of control. Like a lot of couples we just got very comfortable and content. At the end of a hard day, there was nothing we liked more than treating ourselves to a creamy Indian or greasy Chinese takeaway. Then I’d indulge my sweet tooth and Bryan his savoury by tucking into sharing size bags of Maltesers and family size bags of crisps side by side on the settee.

Of course, it wasn’t long before our clothes got tighter. But I tended to wear stretchy jersey clothes anyway, I could kid myself I could still get into them. And when I finally had to go up a size, or two, well Bryan was buying bigger pants too so what did it really matter? We told each other we still loved each other, no matter what size we were.

Which was just as well. Because nights in were all about takeaways and if we went out it was to a restaurant to eat more food. Life just seemed to revolve around it.

But by the time Jamie was toddling about at eight months, our excess weight was causing us problems. Running around after him left us exhausted. We were tired all the time. Life was one sluggish waddle from one meal to the next.

‘Maybe we should start eating a bit more healthily,’ I said to Bryan one day, hoping he’d take me up on a challenge. But we were both so lacking in energy it was just easier to pull out the takeaway menu than go shopping.

By now, I weighed 12st 12lb while Bryan tipped the scales at a whopping 24 stone. Of course we were overweight, but it was only when I was told I needed to have my gall bladder removed that I knew really I had to take action.

‘This should be a wake-up call, my consultant told me afterwards. ‘You need to make some changes to your diet and start exercising.’

I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to enlist Bryan.

‘Who not see it as healthy competition,’ I suggested. ‘See who can lose the most weight?’

‘You’re on,’ he said.

There was no point us ‘cutting down’. It would be too easy to cheat, or treat ourselves to a chicken korma after losing a few pounds. No, we needed something stricter that took food out of the equation…at least for a while.

So we decided to sign up to the Cambridge Weight Loss Plan, swapping all our, sweets, crisps and takeaways for three meal replacement products a day.

Going cold turkey was hard. But I wasn’t about to tell Bryan that…

‘How are you feeling?’ I asked him that evening as we sat snack-free on the settee.

‘Not bad,’ he said, even though I could hear his stomach growling angrily. ‘You?’

‘Not hungry at all,’ I lied, willing myself not to think about chocolate.

I resorted to pouring Fairy Liquid over Jamie’s leftovers in case I was tempted to pick at them.

But it was worth it. When I stepped on the scales at the end of that first week, I’d lost 9lb.

‘Well done,’ Bryan said. ‘I’ve lost slightly more – 1st 4lb.’

You would, I thought, vowing that next week I’d lose more.  

But each week, Bryan inched ahead. It was so frustrating. Still, it kept me going. I was determined to outdo him at some point.

‘Not a chance,’ he smirked.

But four weeks in, and Bryan started to falter. He’d already lost an impressive two stone and was getting cocky.

‘I think I’ll treat myself to a few drinks with the lads tonight,’ he announced one weekend.

Then I noticed he was squirreling away the odd snack, too.

‘Be careful,’ I told him. ‘You don’t want to slip back into your old ways’

‘Leave over,’ he said. ‘It’s only a packet of crisps.’

But I was determined to stick with it. And by Jamie’s first birthday, I’d lost three stone and was a slim size 10.

‘Well done, love,’ Bryan said. ‘You look fantastic.’

‘Thanks,’ I said, trying not to gloat. I could tell it was hard for him. He hated being beaten at anything. I just hoped that his competitive streak would help get him back on track. Because by now, he was a stone heavier than when he’s started the plan.

‘Why not give it another go?’ I suggested the following January. We were off to a wedding in Spain that Spring and I knew Bryan desperately wanted to look lose weight by then.

So he went back on the Cambridge Weight Loss Plan and lost an amazing three stone in the first five weeks.

‘This time I’m going to blow you into the water,’ he joked, spurred on by his loss.

But after the wedding he just couldn’t get back on track. The next year he seemed to grow in front our eyes.

‘I will get back on it,’ he vowed. But months passed.

It wasn’t until the humiliation of not being able to fit into his new nurse’s uniform the following January that he decided to give it one more try.

I t was working as a Cambridge consultant myself now. The company was running a 100 Day Challenge on a social networking site.

‘I’m going to lose 100lb in 100 days!’ Bryan announced.

It was a big claim but then Bryan didn’t do things by halves.

‘I’ll do it with you,’ I announced. ‘Keep you company.’ I hoped the competition would keep him on track.

This time, he was single-minded. Nothing was going to stop him from reaching his goal. He struck religiously to the Plan and as he counted down the 100 days, the scales kept falling…and falling.

At the end of the100 days he’d lost an amazing 106lb.

‘Told you I’d do it,’ he smiled.

I’d reached my goal weight of 8st 7lb too.

But Bryan wasn’t finished yet. Nine months down the line he’d smashed his target and lost half his body weight, going from 24st 2lb to 12st 1lb. We were shocked to discover that between the pair of us we’d lost almost 17 stone!

But the best thing about losing the weight is everything we’ve gained. We’re so much healthier and can run round, kicking a ball in the park with Jamie without getting out of breath. And it’s given our marriage a new lease of life, too.  

Six months on, we’re still maintaining our weight and now we’re both Cambridge consultants, we’re helping others to do likewise. We may not be losing weight ourselves anymore but we are just as competitive about our clients’ losses!

For us, losing weight together was the only way. We’ve always been competitive and I could see after I lost my weight that Bryan wouldn’t rest until he was trimmer too. Still, I never expected him to lose half his body weight in nine months though. It just goes to show how very healthy a bit of rivalry is!