As I dragged myself up the hill in Croyde Bay, Devon, my back and knees were aching terribly. My fiancé, Craig, and our friends strode along, while I lagged further and further behind. Eventually I made it to the top, smiling through the pain to pose for Craig as he snapped a photo. In fact, simply bending over to lace up my walking boots earlier that day had got me out of breath.

A little while later, I received a parcel – a size-22 jacket I’d ordered online, which I expected to be big enough to wear over a thick jumper when walking my dogs, Bert and Ernie. But when I zipped it up, the fabric was so tight I could barely get my fingertips into the pocket – and that was without a jumper underneath. I was gutted.

Back in my mid-twenties, I’d actually lost 8st. But I’d done it by being strict and depriving myself of all the food I enjoyed, so it didn’t take long for the pounds to creep back on again. Then, in 2005, I had a slipped disc in my back, and the doctor who diagnosed it said losing weight would help. At the time, I hadn’t felt motivated to do it. Now, though – spurred on by my disappointment with the jacket – I decided to join Slimming World Online.  

From the moment I told him my plans, Craig was brilliant, taking an interest in what I was eating and suggesting bike rides in the evenings. Each night I’d cook us a filling Slimming World meal like shepherd’s pie, chilli or chicken tikka masala, often making extra so I could heat up the leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

Then, after I’d lost around 4st, my friend Justine decided to join a nearby Slimming World group to lose weight for her wedding. I transferred my online membership to the same group, and that was it – there was no stopping me!

I picked up lots of new ideas and, as nobody judged me if I did have a gain, I never felt like giving up. Justine and I got to target three months later, on the very same day.

Being slim has changed so many aspects of my life. Feeling far less self-conscious, I applied for a new job, and I got it! I can now move around a lot in my new position without my back and knees giving me trouble – I love it.

My dogs get more exercise than ever. I walk them for at least two hours a day, longer if I can, sometimes wearing that size-22 jacket that hangs off me now I’m a size 10-12. And when I’m striding through the fields with Craig at the weekend, he’s the one who has to keep up with me!

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