The first time I remember my weight bothering me was when I gained a place at a performing arts school aged 16. There was no pressure from anyone else to lose weight – that didn’t stop me putting heaps of pressure on myself, though.

After graduating from university, I went into teaching and settled into a comfortable routine based around regular takeaways, ready meals and bottles of wine. Every now and then, I’d try the latest fad diet in a bid to get back into shape – you name it, I tried it!

I got married at 23 and was thrilled, a year later, to find out I was having a baby. By the time Jazmine was born I must have put on at least 4st. I told myself it was normal and that it would come off eventually. To be honest, I was too busy being a new mum to let it worry me.

I’m definitely an emotional eater. Between my wedding day and the end of my marriage, I went up four dress sizes, and after the divorce came the heartbreak diet. When I did move on to a new relationship I felt happy and secure – and I fell back in love with food. So it was hardly surprising that when I became pregnant again, history repeated itself and the weight piled on.

Breaking away from baby weight

My second daughter, Saffron, came into the world in a dramatic way: she was four weeks early and born at home at 2am without any warning at all. It was a couple of months later that Jazmine pointed at my tummy and in a rather puzzled voice asked me if I was going to have another baby. That was the moment I looked in the mirror and knew something had to change – for me, for my family and for my health.

An old friend of mine had lost 5st in a year with Slimming World. She’d been posting photos of her meals on Facebook – I couldn’t believe she could eat all that food and lose so much weight! Still, she persuaded me to join my local group, and my mum came along, too.

I lost 4½lbs in the first week and never looked back. Mum and I both adjusted our targets as we progressed over the next few months and we’ve now lost nearly 7st between us. Mum can’t believe that, at 71, she’s wearing size 8-10s!

Finding my perfect fit

Food Optimising has turned out to be ideal for me; it fits in so well with my busy life. Until recently, I travelled 80 miles a day for my job as a special needs teacher, but I still managed to eat well and never felt hungry.

I batch-cook home-cooked curry and soup at the weekend to take to work. And you can’t get bored with the plan – there are endless recipes to try.

I was apprehensive about using my Syns at first – then I realised they’re one of the reasons why Food Optimising works. You don’t need to deprive yourself, you just have to find a healthy balance. I tend to use mine for sauces and dressings, plus a glass of wine or two at the weekend and the occasional restaurant trip – I still love eating out.

I’ve gradually introduced Body Magic into my life, too. Rather than going to the gym, I’ve tried to build more exercise into my day. I walk instead of driving whenever I can and I use an activity tracker to count my steps, which helps to keep me motivated. It fits in much better with family life.

I also enjoy clothes shopping much more. I used to just buy lots of cover-ups – I didn’t feel comfortable showing off my figure and was dressing a lot older than I actually was. 

Now I’ve dropped four dress sizes, I love the fact that I can choose the fashionable clothes I want straight off the rails.

I’m very proud of the shape I’m in and, as a teacher and a mum, I feel passionate about being a positive role model. So passionate, in fact, that I decided to become a Slimming World Consultant myself. Although I loved working at the school, it meant I didn’t get to spend anywhere near as much time as I wanted with the family.

Being a Consultant allows me to use many of the same nurturing, supportive skills and I can spend much more time with the kids. I get a huge sense of gratification from seeing people get results while juggling working, studying or family life... just like I did!

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