My approach to eating was always ‘all or nothing’. By the age of 15, I was just under 6ft tall and had put on 7st in two years. Every night, I’d shut myself in my room and eat sweets, crisps and chocolate.
At a size 24, I decided to swap my sugary blowouts for a drastic diet that involved eating little more than apples. My weight loss was never going to be sustainable and even less so when I met Chris – he’s a chef and he loves to eat.
We moved in together and it wasn’t long before the slim Emily he’d met disappeared and I was back up to 20st. By then there was another reason for putting on weight – Chris and I were having a baby. Despite the scary news of potential complications, I carried on eating more than ever and was 3st heavier when Chris proposed. To be honest, though, the thought of actually walking down the aisle filled me with horror.
Until I was around six months pregnant I was relatively mobile. Then I suffered from symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), which causes agonising pelvic pain. It was so bad that I couldn’t walk and I was sure it was down to my weight. Luckily, the condition cleared up when Lincoln was born and I was able to walk again almost straight away. I didn’t manage to shift any baby weight, though.
I knew I needed to make a change, so I went along to my local Slimming World group. After listening to my Consultant, Hannah, I knew the plan was for me. I went home, read it over and resolved to go back to Food Optimising 100%. I did, and lost 10lbs in my first week!
I could still have my favourite meals – I just had to make swaps, like using lean mince when I made lasagne, and low-calorie cooking spray instead of oil.
A few weeks later, in March, my mum died. While I knew she was very ill with MS, it was still an awful shock. What was strange for me was that even though I was grieving, I didn’t want to change my new eating habits. I think I realised that chocolate, crisps and biscuits wouldn’t give me any real comfort.
Instead, feeding my family healthy meals – like porridge topped with ground cinnamon and banana, pasta salad, jacket potatoes and homemade curries – and seeing the pounds come off each week helped me feel in control. The support I found at group during IMAGE Therapy really made a difference to my slimming, too.
Eight months later, I reached my target of 12st. I’d done it! And through what had been such a tough 15 months, too: we’d also lost my granddad and our dog.
After losing weight I was in a much happier place, with myself and my relationship, and so we made the exciting decision to try for a brother or sister for Lincoln. I conceived almost immediately. When I met my midwife, it turned out she was a member of Slimming World, too, and she was completely happy for me to continue Food Optimising throughout my pregnancy.
I only put on a stone or so in the nine months before Archer was born and I ate healthy, filling Slimming World meals throughout. I also had much more energy post-baby – this time, instead of comfort eating at home, I was happy and active.
I started taking pictures of my meals and putting them on Instagram (@ylimesalad_slimmingworld), so people could see what Food Optimising looks like – I’ve got more than 100,000 followers now.
Sometimes people don’t believe me when I say I used to be more than twice this size. Recently, Chris and I got married in a low-key ceremony – it was just perfect. I used to think that eating brought me comfort, but really it was a barrier between me and the world. As a slim and confident wife and mum of two, I have choices that the overweight, unhappy me never had.
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.