It was my birthday and I was celebrating in the usual way – on my own, watching TV. Suddenly, my phone buzzed and I picked it up, wondering if a friend was wishing me well. Instead, the happy birthday text was from my local Chinese takeaway. At that moment, I realised how isolated I’d become.

At age 45, I weighed more than 20st and was so unhappy in my own skin that I barely left the house. I just sat alone watching soaps and reality shows – anything to stop me from thinking about my weight.

Whenever Mum phoned, she’d always ask if I fancied giving Slimming World a go – she needed to lose weight to have an operation on a slipped disc. I insisted it wouldn’t work for me, and eventually she got tired of waiting and joined her local group.

A few weeks later, Mum phoned to tell me how she was getting on. ‘I’ve started well...but I’d really love your support,’ she said. ‘Will you come with me?’ Knowing how much she wanted me there, I said: ‘You’re on, I’ll come with you next week.’

I felt so welcome at group, and at home I went from living off energy drinks and takeaways to cooking my own Food Optimising fakeaways from scratch. I found them surprisingly easy to make and they were tastier, too!

My group cheered me on every step of the way and I made so many lovely new friends. We even started having our own little get-together once a month to share our favourite recipes.

The biggest change, though, was in my confidence. At my heaviest, I'd stopped shopping on the high street because I could never find anything in a size 24/26 that I liked or felt comfortable in. I’ll never forget the first time I walked into a shop as a size 10 and felt spoilt for choice, knowing that anything I picked up would look good. 

I ditched those nights in alone watching TV in favour of strutting my stuff with the girls on the dance floor. As my self-esteem grew, I found the courage to train to become a Slimming World Consultant. Now, I stand up in group every week and help my members transform their lives, just like I have.

As I lost weight, I felt able to move a bit more. I built up my activity levels gradually until I had a regular routine going. Now I feel fitter than I’ve ever been – so much so that I’m running this year’s London Marathon in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK. At more than 20st, I’d never have believed that one day I’d be running 26 miles for charity!

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