I was born with a rare bone disease, called Blount’s disease, that affected my mobility and I started gaining weight from an early age. I’d lie in bed watching my sister play outside and, seeing how upset I was, my mum and dad would cheer me up with cake and custard creams. By the time I was 16, I was a size 24 and would always make excuses about why I couldn’t go out with friends. The sadder I was, the more I ate, and I’d think nothing of eating a whole tray of cakes, or takeaways night after night.

My health was getting worse – I started suffering from heart problems and PCOS, and at my biggest I struggled to walk and needed crutches. I tried to get my weight under control with calorie-controlled shakes and fad diets, but eventually resigned myself to the fact that I was meant to be big. I painted a smile on my face, but inside my heart was broken.

My GP gave me the stark news that I needed to do something about my weight, or I could die.

He prescribed me slimming pills and referred me for a gastric bypass operation. The pills made me feel so poorly that I had to stop taking them – I knew I had to find another way. A week later, my sister told me she was pregnant and it was just the incentive I needed to change my life. I didn’t want to die on the operating table and never meet my nephew.

Shortly afterwards, a Slimming World leaflet came through the door and it felt like a sign. Even though I knew people who had been successful with Slimming World, I was still petrified and it took me three weeks to actually walk through the doors. I worried that the other members would stare at me or that I was so big I’d break the scales. This was my last chance, though, and I had to do it. Everyone was really friendly, so I had nothing to worry about. And I lost a massive 12lbs in my first week! For the first time in my life, it felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel.

I began following the Food Optimising eating plan and swapped buttery toast and convenience foods for healthy home-made meals. I learnt how to make my favourite takeaway dishes from scratch, even a Slimming World-style kebab – it’s really satisfying and it tastes naughty, but it’s not at all.

Every week after group I’d sit down and plan what I was going to eat. In my first year I lost 10st, and started going swimming – something I never thought I’d do. I bought a Fitbit and started clocking up the steps, even taking my nephew to the park to get in some extra activity.

In August 2016 I married my partner, John, wearing a size 8/10 wedding dress. Words can’t describe how special it was to walk down the aisle less than half the woman I was. For the first time in my life, I liked how I looked – and on my wedding day I felt like a princess.

I love being part of the social team at my Slimming World group and supporting other members – I’ve also made really great friends that I wouldn’t be without. Five years after starting my journey, I went to thank my doctor for giving me the wake-up call that helped save my life. I feel so much better about myself and so proud of how far I’ve come.

I hope I’m proof to people that there’s never any amount of weight you can’t lose. Everything’s changed and I don’t hide away any more. I always say that Slimming World didn’t just save my life, it’s given me life.

Maxine tells us about her new lease of life...

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