For most couples, date night could involve going out for a romantic meal or watching a film at the cinema.
So Alison Marsh was “mortified” when her husband Dave suggested they go to a weight loss club instead.
She said: “He said we were going to Slimming World. I was a bit shocked. I thought, ‘Have I put that much weight on?’
“Then I thought that it was actually quite good that we were going together because we would be motivated together and have support.”
The couple, who are in their early 40s and live in Orrell, had only been married for two years and Alison said they were still in the “honeymoon period”.
That meant regularly eating out or three-course meals at home with a bottle of wine and they both gained weight.
I am very glad that date night wasn’t a meal or the pictures. I wasn’t at first, as you can imagine, but in the end it did us both a favour and our family a favour as well. I’m definitely glad Dave took me thereAlison Marsh
But they had not spoken about trying to shed the pounds.
Alison said: “I don’t recall talking about losing weight.
“I was always quite conscious about my weight. I had a bit of a weight issue since I was young. I was not obese, but I always carried a bit of weight.”
However, Dave had decided that he wanted to slim down and had looked into Wigan Council’s Lose Weight, Feel Great initiative.
The 12-week weight management programme offers residents bespoke physical activities alongside healthy eating advice.
Dave said: “I felt rotten. I was carrying too much weight and didn’t feel well.
“My father-in-law mentioned Lose Weight, Feel Great and I enquired about it and found out about Slimming World through that.”
He made the decision to go to a Slimming World meeting and as it was held on a Monday - their usual date night - he invited Alison along.
Dave said: “She asked if she needed to lose weight but I said no. It was more me who needed to lose weight.
“Alison decided, by going with me, that she probably did need to lose weight.”
The couple hoped to sneak into the back of the meeting, but they arrived late after a change of venue and made a grand entrance.
But they felt welcomed and started going to the meetings regularly.
Dave said: “It went really well. We went in June 2015 and by Christmas I had lost three stone.
“We had exercise classes too through Lose Weight, Feel Great. It was really good.”
The couple supported each other as they lost weight and ate healthier meals.
Alison, who has a 15-year-old daughter, said: “It definitely helped that we were doing it together because we were motivated for each other. If one of us was having a bad day, the other would have the support.”
And as they became fitter, they swapped their usual dates for something more active.
Alison said: “We had always spent time together as a couple but it was going for a meal or going to the pictures, something quite sedentary.
“Now often we will get wrapped up at the weekend and go for a walk in the Lake District or go for a bike ride.”
The pounds fell off, with Dave losing three stone in total and Alison losing two stone three pounds.
Alison said: “I feel completely different. I have so much energy.”
And Alison has a new career, having recently become a Slimming World consultant and leading groups in Wigan, Garswood and Orrell.
They certainly have no regrets about going to the meeting for their date.
Alison said: “I am very glad that date night wasn’t a meal or the pictures. I wasn’t at first, as you can imagine, but in the end it did us both a favour and our family a favour as well. I’m definitely glad Dave took me there.”
However, with Valentine’s Day just a few days away, the couple will not be celebrating by going to a Slimming World meeting.
Alison said: “I hope that date night at Valentine’s will be a nice Slimming World meal cooked at home.”