The pounds had crept on in my teenage years and by the time I hit 20 I was over 14st. I was very unfit and got tired after a couple of minutes of exercise. My joints ached, I felt hot and sweaty, and I hated the thought that other gym-goers might be judging my size-18 figure.
My turning point came when I felt a crushing pain in my chest one evening. I was admitted to hospital and the doctors reassured me that it wasn’t a heart attack, but a pericardial effusion – a build-up of fluid around the heart. Tests later revealed that I had lupus – a condition causing my immune system to attack the healthy tissue in my body. I was given steroids to counteract my symptoms. Unfortunately, they also increased my appetite and I gained a stone in two weeks.
My friend Ruth had recently lost 3st with Slimming World, and when I told her I couldn’t face being this size any more, she suggested I join group too. I felt nervous walking into a roomful of strangers, so it was a huge relief to find that everyone was really supportive.

After years of yo-yo dieting, Food Optimising was like a breath of fresh air. I loved the food and not having to weigh and measure everything.

I’d have yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast, a jacket potato with salad or chicken for lunch and cooked takeaways from scratch for dinner. I’d snack on apples and my Healthy Extra ‘b’ Rocky Road Hi-fi bars – they’re my favourite!

I lost weight steadily and was thrilled when I got into size-14 clothes – it felt amazing to have a waist! I decided that I had enough energy to incorporate Slimming World’s activity plan, Body Magic. In the beginning, I’d take my dog, Harri, for walks in the mornings and evenings. Then I re-joined the gym. Feeling self-conscious about getting sweaty, I had my doubts, but after 10 minutes I realised no one would notice because they were all doing their own thing.

Soon I was going to the gym regularly and my body was looking loads trimmer. My posture improved and I actually started looking forward to my workouts.

I was overjoyed to reach my target. I’ve never been happier. And although I’ll never be free of lupus, losing more than 6st has meant I’m much better equipped to deal with my symptoms.

My whole state of mind has altered – I’m more positive and so grateful I'm living a healthier life. I’m getting married next year and I can’t wait to exchange vows wearing a size-8 wedding dress. I never want to waste another day!

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