Deciding to do something about my weight was scary. My hands were actually shaking when I first opened the door to my Slimming World group, and I so nearly turned around. I’m really glad I didn’t, though. Taking that first step was honestly the hardest part. The group scooped me up with open arms and the relief was instant. I knew straight away that I’d found the support I needed to get to where I wanted to be.

As my Consultant explained Food Optimising – the Slimming World eating plan – to me, I was shocked to hear I could still eat bacon sandwiches and Chinese meals. I’d tried so many different diets in the past, and I’d always ended up feeling deprived, then binging on the foods I couldn’t have, so I found it hard to believe I could still eat my favourite foods. But the proof was in the plan and I started losing weight straight away.

As a trainee midwife, my diet before I joined Slimming World definitely fitted the student stereotype! My meals were usually something quick and unhealthy, and I drank quite a lot of alcohol. Breakfast would be a massive bowl of cereal followed by white toast and butter. For lunch, I’d grab a pasty, and dinner would be a takeaway. In between, I’d eat crisps, crisps and more crisps; I was buying a 24-pack every week.

What I eat on the Slimming World plan

Now, I don’t want the crisps because I always feel full and satisfied. And my menu’s much more varied. Breakfast can be anything from a cooked brekkie or pancakes to yogurt and fruit. I also love starting my day with something oaty – if I know I’ll be in a hurry, I’ll make overnight oats the night before to grab on my way out, or if I’ve got a bit more time, I enjoy baked oats warm from the oven.

Lunch might be an omelette, a jacket potato, a pasta salad or crustless quiche, while dinner is usually something hearty, like toad-in-the-hole, fajitas or hunter’s chicken. There are so many recipes to try on the Slimming World app and website, with plenty of options that don’t take lots of time and effort (perfect if you have a busy lifestyle like me!). I also make my own Slimming World Chinese fakeaways – they’re cheaper and much healthier than a takeaway, and just as tasty. If I do fancy a snack, I’ll usually go for chicken skewers, a cereal bar or a piece of fruit. 

Of course, sometimes I just really fancy a Chinese takeaway. I also socialise with my mates and eat out regularly. And all those things are still fine, I just make a few Food Optimising swaps and plan in my Syns. Knowing I can eat anything I like, in moderation, has helped me to break my old binge-eating habit, and I feel so much more in control now.

How going to group helped me

The big difference between Slimming World and other weight loss plans I’ve tried – besides the fact I never feel like I’m missing out – is the support members get. As well as celebrating our losses and sharing recipe tips, everyone in group gets a chance to talk through any challenges they’ve faced or that they have coming up. Slimming World calls this IMAGE Therapy, and it means you never feel alone on your weight loss journey. Even if you’ve had a difficult time, you come away feeling positive and full of ideas and motivation for the week ahead. My group would lift me up when I felt down and they became like a second family to me.

Slimming World also has a physical activity programme, Body Magic, which supports you to get more active. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done any exercise before, and you take things at your own pace, which took away the fear for me. I’ve gone from struggling to walk up the stairs to my flat to absolutely loving the gym and spin classes.

Looking back to that first night in group, I can see now that my confidence was at rock bottom – and how much my weight was getting in the way of life. It was affecting my work, because I was so self-conscious around the families I looked after, and nights out were frequently ruined because I’d caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. 

It took me just under a year to lose 4st, and these days I feel like a completely different person – not just physically but mentally, too. I’m much more outgoing and confident. I’m working as a qualified midwife and I also run my own Slimming World group. I loved all of the training at Slimming World’s head office and I’m proud to be running my own business at 22. My group was key to my own weight loss, so I want to be a part of that for other people. I tell everyone who walks through my door that Slimming World changed my life and it can definitely change yours, too!

Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.