When I walked through the doors of that primary school hall back in January 2015, I had no idea how much my life was about to change. I’d only agreed to join Slimming World to support a friend. As we took our seats at the back of the group, though, I saw one of the members get her 5st award. She had such a joyful look on her face, and it really struck a chord with me…

Looking back now, it was obvious that my weight was putting a real strain on my health. At 19st 4lbs, I was on medication for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma, and on top of that my legs and back ached constantly.

But even though my job as a healthcare support worker meant I understood these conditions could be weight related, it wasn’t until I joined Slimming World that the penny dropped. That lady at group was so happy to lose 5st, and I thought to myself, if she can do it, maybe I can too. 

I went straight home and said to my husband, Nigel, ‘I’m going to lose 5st’. The challenge was on...

I stocked up on healthy ingredients and started trying out new recipes. I loved pasta, so I was delighted to discover it was a Free Food at Slimming World. I could make a big spaghetti carbonara one night, then try something new like Cajun chicken pasta or a rich beef lasagne the next. I also made Food Optimising versions of my favourite stews, chilli con carne, roasts and curries. As my love of cooking grew, I felt more confident experimenting with ingredients and flavours. I went from having just two dried herbs in my kitchen cupboard to more than 50!

I also loved joining in with the conversations members were having in group each week. Everyone was full of brilliant ideas and very encouraging. And the Consultant, Helen, always seemed to have some reassuring advice or a helpful strategy up her sleeve if things hadn’t gone to plan for anyone that week.

Within 22 weeks, I’d lost 5st and everyday tasks were already becoming easier. So I decided to keep going with my weight loss and set a new target to lose 8st by Christmas.

I also decided to add Body Magic into my week with some walking. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I still felt pain in my back and legs, so I started small, by parking further away at the supermarket. Once I’d got used to that, I tried walking down my street for a short distance. At first, I’d be gasping for breath after just a few minutes. But as the weeks went by, it started to get easier, and eventually I was walking for miles at a time.

That summer, Nigel and I decided to go walking in the Brecon Beacons for our anniversary. I’d always wanted to see the beautiful mountains and valleys for myself, and this was the first time I’d felt fit enough to try. The views at the top were indescribable. I immediately took a selfie to remember the moment, and then Nigel and I popped open a small bottle of wine to toast the occasion.

I received my 8st award in December 2015, and a year later, I decided to quit smoking. I’ve since been taken off my diabetes and cholesterol medication, and I rarely have to use my inhaler. Walking has become a huge part of my life, too. I do at least 10,000 steps a day and I walk up the Brecon Beacons at every chance I get.

Losing weight has given me the confidence to face other challenges, too, including being redeployed to another hospital at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Knowing the benefits of being a healthy weight has made me more determined to stay at target. These days, I don’t say I’ll try, I say I will.

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