I’d been a fairly averaged-size child, but I was a size 18 by the time I went to university in Manchester. Living away from home and indulging in my love of crisps, chocolate and takeaways saw me gain another 5st. I’d tried so many diets in the past – all of them seemed to make food the enemy, though, so I never addressed my relationship with overeating and nothing seemed to work for me.

It was when I found myself buying size-26 clothes for a longed-for holiday to Florida that I knew something had to change. On the plane there I'd needed to ask for a seatbelt extender, and I'd spent our time at Disney World having to ride on the adjusted seats for larger people. And when I got home I was horrified when I saw the photos.

I looked so unhealthy. I cried, wondering how and why I had done that to myself.

I decided to join my local Slimming World group, and my mum and sister came, too. Following the plan together was just brilliant.

Before, I wouldn’t have eaten breakfast or prepared lunch or snacks for work, so I'd always ended up eating whatever I could lay my hands on – mainly shop-bought sandwiches or chip-shop meals. Now I started planning and prepping in advance so I was ready for the day ahead – enjoying porridge and fruit for breakfast and taking tasty salads or home-made soup to work with me. In the evening I’d have a big, veg-packed stir-fry or home-made spaghetti Bolognese.

Confidence boost

When I was big I had a massive lack of belief in myself. I wasted so many years wearing fake smiles that hid how unhappy I was. I could never understand how I could achieve so much in other areas of my life, yet I couldn’t control what I ate.

Finally taking control of my weight was such a huge turning point for me, both physically and mentally.

About five years ago I used to dance regularly, but as I got bigger my joints would hurt and I’d get out of breath after just a short walk, so I gave it up. After I’d lost about 7st I felt brave enough to go back to my dance class and I absolutely love it now. I’ve also joined a gym.

A key part of my journey was posting my meals on my Instagram account (@slimming_world_jsg) – it really helped me to stay on track. Now I have over 190,000 followers! I still have to pinch myself when people call me an inspiration, or say that they’re going to start slimming because of me. My mum and sister have lost over 7st between them, too.

Luke and I have been together since we were 15, and I'd always discourage him from proposing because I couldn’t imagine myself as a bride at the size I was. Thanks to Slimming World, when he proposed I said yes without even a second thought about my weight.

I feel I’m like a butterfly, emerging from my cocoon. Best of all, I finally believe myself when I say ‘I am going to…’ in all aspects of my life.

I might be half the size I was, but I feel like I’m twice the person now. I know I have the strength and the willpower to achieve anything I put my mind to, and that’s a really powerful feeling.

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