I slipped the pink strappy dress over my head and, as I looked at my reflection, my heart sank. ‘Oh well, it’ll have to do,’ I thought, covering my shoulders with a matching wrap. To the outside world, I was bubbly, smiley Gill – getting in the jokes about my size before anybody else could. Nobody, not even my husband, knew how wretched I felt inside.

I’d been yo-yo dieting since my teens, always worried people would be comparing me, a size 18, to my size 10 twin sister, Cheryl. Each time I tried to slim I’d start a calorie-counted plan, feel really hungry, pack it all in and regain any weight I’d lost.

As my daughter, Katie, approached her 20s, she decided she’d like to lose a little weight herself. ‘Why don’t we join Slimming World, Mum?’ she asked me one day. ‘I don’t need to go to a club, I can do it myself!’ I replied. For six months she kept on asking me and my response was always the same.

Then I went to my sister’s house for afternoon tea with two friends. When the photo of us sitting together appeared on Facebook, I was mortified – I was the biggest by far. Shortly afterwards, Katie and I joined group.

I was surprised how easy it was to incorporate the eating plan into my life. And it was working! The weight kept coming off steadily.

I’ve been at my 9st 7lb target for a long time now and I couldn’t be more pleased with my new figure. Katie often tells me how proud she is of what I’ve achieved. She’s been such a great support to me, along with the rest of my wonderful family.

Now when I see myself smiling broadly in a photo, I know it’s a true reflection of how I’m feeling – confident, positive and happy to be me.

With a little help from ...

Gill shares the tricks that made a difference to her slimming journey, and the treats (and people) that spurred her to success.

  • Thank goodness Katie, my lovely daughter, kept on asking me to go to group with her. Slimming together was a real boost – we’d text each other during the day, which helped us stay on track.

  • About 18 months ago, I couldn’t keep up when my husband Stephen and I walked our labradoodle, Louie, in the steep woods by our house. Now, it’s not a problem – and I’ll even stride up the stairs at home two by two, just because I can!

  • I love Lotus Biscoff caramelised biscuits – they’re a real treat at 4 Syns for two. And as they’re wrapped in pairs you don’t get carried away.

  • When I’m out, I’ll order a 35ml shot of gin (4 Syns) with diet tonic – or if I’m driving, it’ll be a Free soda water with ice and slices of lime.

  • With my extra confidence about the way I look, I’m playing around more with my make-up. I love standing out from the crowd in a bold, bright lipstick.

  • Now my smiles match the genuine joy I feel inside. Feeling good about myself has made socialising much more fun, too – I love getting glammed up and going out to party in a size 12 dress.

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