I smiled as my friend Sonia and I waited for the rousing opening strains of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – I didn’t feel as cramped as I usually did in the narrow concert hall seats. ‘You must feel wonderful,’ Sonia smiled back.

On the whole, I did. I’d lost an amazing 3st since joining Slimming World six months earlier. The trouble was that I’d lost my weight loss mojo. I’d stopped counting my Syns, my weight loss had stalled and I was considering giving up. ‘I’m thinking about quitting,’ I admitted.

At that, a man behind us popped his head forward. ‘Please don’t do that,’ he said. ‘I’ve been going to Slimming World for a long time and lost a lot of weight. You’ll regret it if you quit now.’ His words stopped me in my tracks. Although I was thrilled to have slimmed down to a size 14, I knew deep down that I hadn’t reached my dream weight.

Finding my weight loss motivation

I hadn’t always been overweight, but marriage and two pregnancies saw me slip into unhealthy eating habits. When my son Corey and my daughter Casia were at school, I found the headspace to think about losing weight. I managed to lose a few stones just by cutting down on fast food and chocolate.

Sadly, a lovely friend of mine was then diagnosed with leukaemia, and naturally all of my focus went to her. I spent every spare minute at her bedside, snacking on whatever was available. When she lost her battle I was devastated, turning to comfort food and a nightly glass of wine. Very quickly, I reached 16st – the heaviest I’d ever been.

Hitting a low note

My motivation to get back to healthy eating actually came from one of my young music students. During a piano lesson, a little girl very innocently remarked: ‘I love you. You’re like a big, cuddly teddy bear.’ She didn’t mean to upset me but I felt tears of humiliation spring to my eyes.

It was time to get back on my weight loss path – the trouble was that I didn’t know how. I tried lots of different diets, but nothing worked. After a year of dieting without success, I stepped on the scales at my GP surgery and was told I was clinically obese. I was mortified. My doctor handed me a leaflet for Slimming World on Referral, saying I was eligible for 12 weeks’ free Slimming World membership. Finally I felt that I was facing in the right direction.

Never giving up

Walking into my local group was nerve-wracking, but my Consultant, Charlotte, was so kind and reassuring. It definitely felt like my now-or-never moment and, when I weighed in at 15st 11½Ibs, I decided that I was going to give it my all.

Within six months I’d lost 3st, but then came another motivational slump. I wasn’t following the plan fully – I’d stopped counting Syns and started eating the kids’ leftovers, so it was no surprise really that my weight loss had stalled.

My concert hall encounter with a fellow Slimming World member stopped me from giving up. I knew that I’d regret it if I didn’t continue on my weight loss journey all the way to my 10st target weight. I went back to group with a brand-new resolve.

The performance of a lifetime

As the pounds started coming off again, I began to feel more positive about other areas of my life. For years I’d dreamt of doing a European Piano Teachers Association course, but at my heaviest I was sure the assessors would be staring at me for all the wrong reasons. Freed from low self-esteem, and no longer worrying about how I looked, I started the course last September.

By the time my final assessment came around this June, I’d reached my target weight! This time, it was me sitting at the grand piano performing for others, and it felt amazing!

5 fantastic Syn-free recipes

Being a Slimming World member means never feeling hungry or deprived, and eating tasty and filling meals means that you shouldn’t be tempted by leftovers. These five Syn-free recipes are simple to make and super satisfying to eat!

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