I’d always been bigger, but the weight really piled on after an issue with our landlord meant the five of us had to move in with my mother-in-law, who lived in a one-bedroomed bungalow. It was such a stressful time for the whole family and I turned to food for comfort. We would buy cakes, pastries, crisps and chocolates to enjoy together and cheer us up a bit.

My stepfather, a ski instructor, was also involved in a serious coach accident while away on a school trip to France, which was another hugely stressful time for our family. He spent 10 days in hospital abroad before being moved to Birmingham Hospital for further treatment. We were all so worried about him and emotional eating got the better of me.

Eventually we were rehoused and although my stepdad had fairly life-changing injuries, it was a relief to have him home. My weight had become an even bigger issue though, and I knew things were getting bad when simple tasks started to become massive chores.

My father was only 39 when he had a heart attack, so I knew I was at risk of developing heart disease too. I was approaching 35 and the worry of having a heart attack like Dad was keeping me up at night. The very thought of my children and husband having to go through such pain was enough for me to join my nearest Slimming World group. I wanted to be the mum and wife they deserved.

Walking through the doors for the first time was really daunting, especially because I had no idea how much I weighed. I was made to feel so welcome, though, that I left with a sense of hope.

I can now say that day changed my life forever, as it was the first step towards me becoming a healthier and more confident person.

I love my food, so I was delighted when I learned about Food Optimising and discovered that I could still eat all of my favourite meals – there was no need to go hungry!

I started to make hearty family favourites from scratch instead of relying on convenience food – so I’d whip up a big chicken curry with rice and veg instead of reaching for the nearest jar. It tasted just as good; better, in fact!

Each week the pounds dropped off, even though I was eating way more than I ever did before. I still had a small chocolate bar or packet of crisps when I fancied, but the balance was right. My family has benefitted too as they’re all eating much more healthily. 

Before losing weight, my confidence was at rock bottom and I was stuck in a job that I didn’t enjoy. As I got slimmer my confidence grew and I bagged myself a job as an auxiliary nurse, which I enjoyed much more. I soon realised that caring for people was my calling in life – and that my heart lay with helping people to achieve things they never thought possible. Becoming a full-time Slimming World Consultant seemed like the perfect fit, and I haven’t looked back since.

I know how it feels to be overweight and unhappy – and now I know how to help people turn that around to live the life they always dreamed of. And to have been crowned Consultant Slimmer of the Year 2017? Things just get better and better!

There’s no way I’d have been seen in a swimsuit when I was bigger. Now I love doing a few lengths in the pool, it just makes me feel so good. I also have a weekly session with a personal trainer, which is something I’d never have contemplated before I lost weight. 

I’ve learned healthy habits for life and I feel so much happier. It’s not always been easy and there have been times where I’ve had to refocus, but that’s all part of the journey and if anything it helps me empathise with my members more. I know I’ll never go back to the old me.

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