I’d struggled with my weight since childhood – I didn’t know what it was like to shop in fashionable high-street stores or swap clothes with my friends. I was a size 16 at the age of 16, and when I left home my eating habits became even less healthy. I’d have a takeaway for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unsurprisingly, the weight piled on very quickly and, before I knew it, I was almost 19st.
When I was expecting my son, Joshua, and then later my daughter, Charlotte (now 12 and nine), I remember feeling disappointed that people didn’t congratulate me or ask about the baby – and I think it was because my weight meant that I didn’t look obviously pregnant. As the children got older and started to become more active, I realised that I could end up missing out because I wasn’t fit enough to keep up with them.
The turning point came when my husband and I went to Alton Towers and decided to go on the ‘Air’ ride. After a bit of a struggle I managed to get the harness to fit, but as the ride started I began to panic that it wouldn’t be able to hold my weight. I cried the whole way round. Worst of all, it took three men to get me out of the harness. I was so mortified – especially as everyone in the queue looked on – that we just went straight home afterwards.
Later that day I came across a picture of an old school friend on social media. She’d lost a lot of weight and was looking great, so I messaged her to see how she’d done it. She told me that she’d joined Slimming World. I decided enough was enough and looked up my nearest group.
Walking into group for the first time was pretty nerve-wracking. I got such a lovely warm welcome, though, that I soon forgot my nerves. And when I heard about the plan, I just couldn’t believe it! Whenever I’d tried to lose weight before I’d always felt deprived and restricted, yet now I was greeted with a huge list of foods that I could eat without any guilt.
I soon got into the swing of things and started cooking meals from scratch rather than depending on ready meals and takeaways.
My family were all so supportive and, as the numbers on the scales started going down, it spurred me on to become as healthy and happy as possible.
I became more and more conscious of what my family and I were eating, and started to think about other ways that we could make changes, too. I’d read about leading a vegan lifestyle and it just seemed to make so much sense to me. We made the switch to being a vegan household in July 2017. We fill up on plenty of fruit, vegetables, beans, rice and pulses, and love experimenting with new recipes and flavour combinations.
I wasn’t active at all before I joined Slimming World. Since losing weight, though, we’ve adopted three dogs – who love long walks! I’ve also completed numerous Parkruns and even a muddy obstacle run. The confidence that Slimming World has given me means I believe I can achieve anything. Two years ago I left my retail job to become a Consultant full-time, and I love the fact that I can help people to change their lives.
I realised how far I’d come when I went back to Alton Towers with a friend. I was a bit anxious given my previous experience, so when the harness clicked easily into place, I honestly felt as though I’d won the lottery!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.