May 2018: 14st 12lbs

I can’t believe what’s just happened... My boyfriend, Malachy, had cooked our favourite pasta dish for dinner and as we finished cleaning the dishes, I asked him, ‘What do you want to do now?’ Turning to me, grinning, he replied, ‘I want to get married!’ Then he quickly produced a ring from one of the cupboards and held it out to me. ‘Yes!’ I said, without hesitation. While I’m bursting with excitement, there is a second thought at the back of my mind: I want to lose weight before the wedding. 

June 2018: 15st

It’s been a month since we got engaged, and I’m even more fed up about my size. When Malachy and I first met at the restaurant where we worked, we went out for lots of meals and my weight crept up as a result. Although lately I’ve been trying to diet by limiting my portion sizes, I just feel so hungry after only a bowl of soup for dinner... So I’ve gone back to snacking on a tray of beef dripping chips during my shift and picking up a takeaway on my way home.

As I got bigger, I’d always be the first person to mention my weight. I’d introduce myself as the ‘fat friend’ or the ‘big bubbly one’ when I was out with my mates.

I thought that if I got in there first with the hurtful comments, no one would have a chance to tease me. But my self-esteem has got lower and lower and, recently, I’ve started avoiding going out with my friends altogether, because I hate the thought of people I know seeing how big I’ve become.

Getting engaged has brought my weight worries into sharp focus, though. I know I don’t want to feel uncomfortable about the way I look when I see my wedding photos. It’s time to tackle it for good, so I’ve joined Slimming World Online.

July 2018: 14st

It’s just three weeks since I started Food Optimising and I already feel different. I threw myself into it straight away, logging onto the website every day to get tips and ideas and I used the food planner to keep track of my meals during the week. I even embraced my least favourite task: food shopping!

Now, instead of relying on the meals the kitchen makes for me at work, I take a home-made lunch, like a potato salad, and I make a Food Optimising dinner – tonight, it’s hunter’s chicken. I’m using my days off to experiment with new recipes, too. I’ve recently discovered Slimming World carbonara – the delicious creamy sauce is incredible. I’ve lost 1st already and I’m feeling really optimistic.

August 2018: 12st 7lbs

I’ve just got back from a walk around the estate with my dad. I’d been thinking about getting more active for a couple of weeks to burn off some of my new-found energy, but when Dad suggested we go walking, I was mortified. I knew I’d be red-faced and sweaty after a few minutes, and I was embarrassed at the thought of anyone seeing me like that. I explained my worries to Dad, and he was really reassuring. ‘Let’s try it anyway and see how it goes,’ he said.

I’m not going to lie, I hated it. While Dad raced up the hills, I was trailing behind, puffing and panting, and I spent the entire time wondering if anyone was looking at me. I’m going to stick with it, though.

September 2018: 12st 4lbs

Since I last wrote, I’ve been walking further and further each week and I’ve just realised that, as my confidence has grown and I’ve started enjoying the walks, I’ve stopped worrying about who might be watching me. Now, I’m just focused on trying to keep up with Dad! And our walks have become the highlight of my week – I love our ‘just us’ quality time.

October 2018: 12st

Three years ago, I began experiencing severe indigestion, and several times a week, I’d have to run to the nearest bathroom to be sick, with little to no warning. At the time, my doctor said that my weight and eating rich foods were a contributing factor, and I was put on medication to ease my symptoms.

Today, I went back to the doctor for a check-up, and she was blown away by how much weight I’ve lost. In fact, she didn’t even recognise me when I first walked into the surgery!

As I’ve not had a single flare-up of indigestion since I started Food Optimising, the doctor told me that, because of the progress I’ve made, I can now try coming off the pills. Fingers crossed I’ll never need to take them again.

January 2019: 12st

The past couple of months have been tough. Until then, I’d been losing weight steadily each week, but the scales just suddenly stopped moving. I knew I wanted to shift at least another stone, but I just couldn’t seem to find my mojo to keep losing...

Then I remembered a post I’d seen in the Community when I first joined Slimming World. The member had said that making a list of the ways losing weight had benefited her life had helped her to stay motivated. I thought it might work for me, too, so I grabbed a pen and some paper and started scribbling – and the positives quickly mounted up! I realised that if I gave up now, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. So this week, I’ve made a plan to increase the amount of Speed Free Food in my meals and I’m determined to get a loss.

October 2019: 11st

I’m officially Mrs Anna McCafferty! We tied the knot at an amazing ceremony in the restaurant where we met five years earlier. As I walked up to the serving station – the exact spot where we first met! – Malachy took my hand and said: ‘You look beautiful.’ I didn’t stop smiling all day as we posed for photos with our friends and family – and I never once worried about how I looked in my wedding dress, which is exactly what I wanted.

February 2021: 10st 7lbs

I’ve been at my target weight for over a year now and life couldn’t be more different. I’ve managed to stay off my indigestion medication. I’ve been promoted to assistant manager at work, and Malachy and I have recently bought our first house! Of course, the past 12 months have been challenging, too. When the UK first went into lockdown, I found the uncertainty hard to cope with and I started turning to chocolate and wine for comfort. Thankfully, Food Optimising has helped me recognise my danger zones around food, and I was able to quickly put a plan in place to get myself back on track.

That change in my mindset has been the biggest difference. While being slimmer, feeling better about the way I look and wearing fashionable clothes is great, what matters most is that I now believe I can confidently handle anything life throws at me. That means more to me than anything else.

Anna’s five favourite recipes

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