My home-made spaghetti bolognese was ready, dished up and just begging to be eaten, but first, I had to take a photo... My mum, Julie, and I had joined Slimming World together, and since moving in with my boyfriend, Matt, I’d share pictures of my meals on our family group chat. She’d messaged back saying: ‘You’ve come so far’. And didn’t I know it!
At the beginning of my weight loss journey, the idea of losing more than 7st felt as likely as winning the lottery! Just like my other dreams – of being fit enough to join the police and confident enough to wear a bikini – it felt completely out of reach.
My weight gain started while I was at school, where I’d spend my break times snacking on crisps and chocolate. Then, when I went to university, my weight totally spiralled out of control. My time with Matt was precious, and I told myself it was important for us to bond over takeaways and desserts. It didn’t help that my accommodation was above a 24-hour mini supermarket either, which made it easy to graze on cookies, meal deals, microwave lasagnes and burgers, and sharing packs of chocolate. The student nightlife was fantastic, but I dreaded any photos being posted on social media. The girls I lived with all wore bra tops and miniskirts, and I always felt like the odd one out in my baggy dresses.
Now I can fit into the clothes I want to wear, rather than what fits
After graduating, I applied to do a master’s degree in forensic psychology. I desperately wanted to work in the police service, but I knew there was no hope of me passing the physical test, so it became just another entry on my mental list of ‘things I’d never achieve’.
I was living back home by then. Only Mum really knew how unhappy I was with my weight, and it was her idea for us to join Slimming World together. Going to that first group was made much easier with Mum by my side, and we got such a warm welcome from the other members and the Consultant, Chris.
Back home, Mum and I dived into our Food Optimising books, and Dad was really impressed with all the food we could eat. ‘These recipes look amazing,’ he said. ‘It’s real food – and you can eat carbs!’ We decided we’d all follow the plan, ditching our old ready meals and jars of sauces for Slimming World dinners like diet cola chicken, beef lasagne and chilli-loaded wedges.
New food grooves
Buying lean mince and cooking with low-calorie cooking spray rather than oil were such easy swaps to make, and eating regular, filling meals meant I didn’t feel deprived. I reached for fruit if I fancied a snack and used my Syns in the evening for a CurlyWurly. Instead of pies and brownies for lunch, I started taking my own Food Optimising pasta or rice salads. In the first month, I lost a stone, and the praise from Chris really spurred me on. As the other members congratulated me on my award, I remember thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m stopping now!’
With every pound I lost, my confidence grew
Mum and I started to have tasting nights, experimenting with new ideas we’d got in group or recipes we’d found on the website. At the weekend, we’d all sit down to oat pancakes topped with fruit and fat-free natural yogurt for breakfast, and a Food Optimising roast on Sunday afternoon. While I mostly stuck to the plan 100%, there were times when I’d have a few cocktails or a Chinese takeaway. With the help of the IMAGE Therapy I got in group, I learnt not to beat myself up about it and would just get back on plan the next day.
Finding my feet
With the pounds falling away, I felt ready to start working on toning my body up. Matt and Dad were serious runners, but I didn’t feel up to joining them just yet. In group, I’d learnt about Slimming World’s Body Magic activity programme, and how the aim is to gradually build up to a more active lifestyle at your own pace. So I challenged myself to begin by just jogging to the end of the road and back. Soon, with the encouragement of my group, I was running every day.
I used to think I hated running. Turns out I was wrong!
As I lost weight, I realised I was starting to enjoy nights out much more – I could finally fit into the kind of clothes I’d always wanted to wear! I swapped vodka and sugary lemonade for gin and diet tonic, and I always made sure there was some crustless quiche in the fridge for when I got home.
More for members: Learn how to have a brilliant night and keep your weight loss in sight
All my dreams come true!
The more I achieved, the more I realised I could do. I even posted a holiday photo of myself in a bikini on social media for the first time. Then, in April 2020, I finally plucked up the courage to apply for the police. I was running 5k regularly, but I still had to get through the dreaded fitness test. Thankfully, I passed!
On holiday in Mexico, I felt brave enough to post that bikini shot (right) – and I was blown away by the lovely comments!
Now that I’m at my target weight, Matt thinks I should get rid of my old clothes, but I like looking at my size-20 jeans – they remind me how far I’ve come! On top of the support I get from my Slimming World group, I’m so lucky to have my family’s backing. These days, bonding time for Matt and me is walking in beauty spots. I do a Parkrun every week, too, and my time keeps getting faster. I’ll never pip Dad or Matt, though when we did our first 10K together, Matt ran at my pace so we could cross the finish line as a couple. That’s love!
What’s on your weight loss wish list?
Would you love to feel fabulous on a night out or amazing on holiday? Maybe you have a big career aim or a fitness goal? Or perhaps you’re dreaming of something completely different? When you join Slimming World, you’ll receive all the expert strategies, tools and support you need to achieve the weight loss and lifestyle that you really want.
Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.