I’d first gained weight when I was pregnant with each of my two daughters. Each time I’d lose the pounds, feel really pleased with myself, then promptly pile them all back on (and a bit more besides) within six months. It was so demoralising.

The final straw

I knew I had to tackle my weight the day I found myself cutting the size 18 label out of my new jeans so no one would see what size I really was. ‘That’s it,’ I told myself. ‘I’ve really got to do something about it this time.’

I was so determined that I trudged through the snow to get to my first Slimming World group. Luckily, the welcome I got when I went in was much, much warmer!

A different way of eating

Going to group changed the way I thought about food; it helped me recognise that what I needed was to change my lifestyle, not just follow another fad. In fact, my whole mentality changed once I got to grips with Food Optimising, because for the first time in years I stopped feeling like I was on a diet.

I enjoy cooking, so I had fun poring over Slimming World magazines and articles online, hunting for recipe ideas and inspiration. It turned into a new hobby for me, and I really looked forward to trying out my discoveries. I loved the Southern-style breaded chicken recipe served with Slimming World chips and baked beans, oven-baked fish with roasted vegetables, and home-made burgers with salad and Slimming World coleslaw.

One of the things I liked most was that there was no counting calories or avoiding certain foods. My elder daughter moved back home and she lost 2st simply by eating the same meals as I did. I didn’t feel guilty or worry about what I was eating and so I really enjoyed my food; I think I single-handedly kept the strawberry fields going last summer!

I didn’t ever feel deprived – I loved knowing I could have a glass of wine if I fancied it.

Eating out, I’d look at the menu and say, ‘I’d like this dish, though could you cook it this way, please. And instead of this sauce, can I have some low-fat dressing on the side, plus I’ll have the boiled potatoes instead of the chips.’ It was great knowing there were always healthier options I could order without undoing my good work.

Life after target

I reached target and my journey there was fine; I’d found the weight came off steadily as long as I stuck to plan. Staying at target was more difficult to start with, though, until I stopped worrying about maintaining and just relaxed. My Consultant, Stefan, has been incredibly supportive from the word go, and he’s become a dear friend.

Now I’m a Diamond member, which means I’ve maintained my target weight for over a year. It’s a fabulous feeling.

New outlook

I’m more confident about fashion now and, because I feel younger, I dress younger, too – for instance, these days I might wear jeggings with ankle boots, which is quite a different look for me. I’m thrilled that I can borrow clothes from my elder daughter. Since I’ve lost weight I’ve been more willing to give new things a go in every area of my life, as I’m less afraid of what other people might think. I’m back to being myself again.

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