Walking barefoot over white sands, hand in hand with my new husband, Steve, I knew I was at the beginning of an exciting chapter in my life. We’d spent most of our Mexican honeymoon discussing another big step – trying for a baby. In that moment, I couldn’t think of anything in the world that would be better than starting a family.
When the honeymoon was over, our wedding album came back from the photographer, and my heart sank as I looked at the photos – I couldn’t believe how big I’d become. I’d struggled with my weight since secondary school and had tried various diets through my teens and early 20s. Then I met Steve, and as we settled into our life together, I stopped trying to lose weight and gradually got bigger.
It turned out that falling pregnant wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I’d imagined. After a year, I started to worry that it just wasn’t going to happen for us, and turned to food for comfort. I’d start the day with rounds of buttery white toast, have bacon sandwiches with a bag of crisps for lunch, then toad-in-the-hole for dinner, snacking on biscuits in between.
I carried on gaining weight throughout the next year, and I still wasn’t pregnant. My doctor referred us for tests and while we waited for the results, we jetted off to Egypt to take our minds off it all. Sitting by the pool on the last day of our holiday, feeling frumpy and embarrassed in my size-18 swimming costume, I noticed lots of women who seemed totally at ease showing off their figures. I thought: ‘Why can’t I be happy with my body, too?’
It was my light-bulb moment. I decided there and then that I was going to lose weight and this time I was going to give it my all.
As soon as we got home, before I’d even unpacked my suitcase, I’d nipped on to the Slimming World website and found a group close to our house.
I was a bag of nerves as I walked through the door… then a text message popped up on my phone. It was from Steve, saying: ‘Good luck. You can do this. I’m really proud of you.’ Finding out I weighed 16st 8lbs made me even more determined that I was going to make a permanent change. That evening, I prepared overnight oats for the next day’s breakfast, starting as I meant to go on.
I ate tasty lunches like salmon pasta salad with peppers, onion, tomato and gherkins, and filling dinners like low Syn cheese-topped chicken or gammon with potatoes and lots of veg.
After just one week, I was amazed to find I’d lost half a stone.
A couple of months after joining group, I got the news I’d been dreading. We were going to need IVF. I knew my body mass index (BMI) had to be 30 or below to qualify for treatment on the NHS and although I’d already got it down from 37.5 to 34.1 since joining Slimming World, I still had a way to go.
My GP couldn’t have given me a better incentive to lose weight – if reaching a healthy BMI might mean a baby, then I had to do it.
Two months later, when I was just over 3st lighter, Steve and I had an appointment at the fertility clinic. When she said my BMI was 30, I almost leapt out of my seat. We’d been given the green light!
As well as doing everything I could to get my body into peak shape for carrying a baby, planning and cooking all our meals kept my mind busy and gave me something to focus on.
One day near Christmas, I was due to take a pregnancy test. I spent a sleepless night wondering if I was going to become a mum at last. At 3am, unable to wait a moment longer, I sneaked downstairs while Steve was fast asleep and did the test. As two bold lines appeared, I ran up to the bedroom and yelled, ‘We’ve done it!’ at Steve, who jolted awake, trying to take it in. Then came the words I’d been longing to say for two years: ‘I’m pregnant!’
I told my Consultant the news, asking if it was still OK for me to follow the plan. She explained that Slimming World works with the Royal College of Midwives to support mums and mums-to-be, and gave me a leaflet which explained how to eat a healthy, balanced diet throughout pregnancy. Once I had my midwife's approval, I carried on Food Optimising, upping my Healthy Extras, planning hearty meals packed with vegetables and making sure I always had Free Food to nibble on.
By the time I reached full term, I’d put on just a stone, a healthy gain based on my pre-pregnancy weight. As I held baby Taylor in my arms for the very first time, I had to pinch myself that he was really mine. I went back to group straight away, knowing how easy it would be to fall back into my old eating habits when I was tired or busy caring for my newborn.
My aim was to get to target for Taylor’s christening at eight months old – just in case, I bought the cream dress I wanted to wear in two sizes. As I’d been so disappointed with my wedding pictures, I wanted to feel extra special on Taylor’s big day. Standing on the scales, I had to look twice. I’d done it – I was 10st 7lbs!
On the morning of Taylor’s christening, wearing the smaller, size-10 cream dress that fitted like a glove, I stood in church, holding my son, with Steve by my side. I felt so proud of myself and my gorgeous little family.
I have bags of energy now, I’m more confident and, most importantly, I can run around with Taylor. As he scampers across the park and I race after him, I can’t believe how amazing it feels to finally be a mum!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.