I’ve struggled with my weight since primary school, and was referred to a dietitian at just 11 years old. I found it all really traumatic – at my hospital appointments I was told that I wouldn’t be able lose the weight without surgery, which is quite a lot to process at such a young age.

I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I turned to food for comfort and gained even more weight. It came at a time when I was being badly bullied at school as well, so it was all just too much. I couldn’t see how I would ever change things.

I felt desperate and tried everything, from slimming shakes to cutting out entire food groups.

Diets never worked because they were too restrictive and I just couldn’t stick to them – and I never learnt anything about healthy eating or how to change my lifestyle.

When a Slimming World leaflet dropped on to our doormat, it looked quite different to everything I’d tried before, and when I found out about Free2Go (Slimming World’s specially devised eating plan for young people, which focuses on making healthy lifestyle changes with the whole family), Mum and I figured that we’d give it a go. I was worried about joining a group though, I thought I’d be judged for being overweight at such a young age and that nobody would take me seriously. I couldn’t have been more wrong – I’ve made friends for life at my Slimming World group and was made to feel so welcome! 

I always associated losing weight with not eating anything – so it came as a bit of a surprise when I realised I could still eat quite a lot while losing weight!

 My whole family were really supportive and enjoyed the same meals as me and Mum – family favourites like spaghetti bolognese and home-made curry were still on the menu, so it made it easy for everyone to get on board. It helped me to learn about food and cooking, too – I’m quite the chef now!

When I was bigger, I would be out of breath all the time and my feet used to hurt. I feel like a new person now – I go to the gym four times a week, I run at the weekends with my brother, and I love it – something I never thought I’d be able to say.

I love clothes shopping these days, but it used to be an awful experience. I was so down on myself because of my size and I’d end up just buying whatever I could find in a size 24. Now I’m free of that, I experiment with different styles and swap clothes with my friends. I have things in a size eight, which still blows my mind a bit!

My group has been the best support system throughout my journey, they’re like a second family. I’ve had weeks when there was an unexpected gain or I felt like giving up, and they’d build me back up and make me determined to smash the next week.

Although we can’t be together in person at the moment, I love seeing my Consultant and fellow members in my virtual group – it really helps to keep me motivated and on track.

It’s a difficult time for everyone, but as long as we’ve got the support of each other we’ll be OK. 

I was due to sit my A-level exams next month but sadly that won’t happen now. I’m not going to let that hold me back, though – I have big dreams and I can’t wait to fulfil them. Losing 8st has made me feel like I can achieve anything. I proved my doubters wrong and for the first time I feel like I have a bright future ahead of me – and that’s an amazing feeling.

Holly’s day on a plate

Before 

Breakfast: White bread with butter and chocolate spread.

Lunch: Sausage roll, crisps. 

Mid-afternoon snack: A pastry. 

Dinner: Pizza or burger. 

Evening: Crisps and sweets. 

After

Breakfast: Overnight oats with frozen berries and sliced banana. 

Mid-morning snack: Fruit. 

Lunch: Large home-made chicken salad or a ham and pepper omelette. 

Dinner: Hunter’s chicken, Cajun chicken pasta or sausages and mash

Evening: A Slimming World Hi-fi bar or small chocolate bar. 

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