I’d always been a big girl. By the time I was 14, I wore size 22 clothes. Growing up, being overweight didn't really bother me because it didn't affect my life too much. I still had boyfriends, lots of friends and worked full time. It wasn't until I reached my mid-20s when I started to notice that I was often judged because of my size. I was unsuccessful in job interviews and strangers would stare at me in the street and make horrible comments. I put on a front but deep down I was anxious and scared about going out in public.

I tried losing weight with another slimming club – it didn’t work because I was always hungry and I didn’t have the motivation that I needed. I think deep down, I wasn’t ready to start my battle.

The final straw came after a family holiday to Mexico in May 2015. While I was there I struggled to sit in seats that had arms. In fact, I bought my own extension belt for the plane to save myself the embarrassment of asking for one. I was also constantly tired due to the heat and sweated a lot. It was uncomfortable from start to finish. 

After that holiday I vowed to make a change. I joined Slimming World Online in July 2015 because I didn’t have the confidence to walk into a group. My husband, Gus, is my rock and said that he’d support me 100% which gave me the push I needed to give it a go. 

Slimming World quickly became a way of life. For breakfast I enjoy a big bowl of fruit and fat-free yogurt and I always have eggs at the weekend when I have more time to cook. Lunch is usually homemade soup like lentil, tomato or vegetable with Ryvita (Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice) topped withe Dairylea Light (4 triangles are a Healthy Extra ‘a’ choice) and ham or chicken. My go-to snacks are fruit and low-Syn packets of crisps like Walkers French Fries.

I swapped regular takeaways for healthy home-cooked meals like chilli con carne and curries. I’m cooking all the time now, making big batches and freezing them for another day. 

Planning my meals two weeks in advance has really helped. I make a shopping list and only buy the foods I need. That way I’m not tempted by high Syn foods in the supermarket that might send me off track. 

Before I joined Slimming World I’d find any excuse to go for a meal out – usually two or three times a week! Now Gus and I only eat out on special occasions. When we do go out I eat whatever I want and get straight back on plan the next day – no excuses! When I’d lost 4st, Gus treated me to a meal at my favourite pub, it was a really nice reward for my hard work. 

Exercise had never really interested me – until now! Before I lost weight I drove everywhere and I’d park my car as close to the supermarket door as physically possible. I started getting active by walking, parking further away from the shops and taking the stairs instead of the lift. As I lost weight, I got the exercise bug and now I love swimming (I do 50-60 lengths every morning before work) and going to Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack classes. I’m also learning to run, I’m determined to run a 10k with my dad this year. 

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t always been easy. There have been tears and many times I’ve wanted to give up but the support of Gus, my family and my friends has kept me going. Gus has eaten the same meals as me and has never once complained about missing all the sweet treats that we used to keep in the cupboards. He absolutely loves the home-made soup I cook. 

These days I am learning to love clothes. It’s a whole new experience for me to be able to walk into a high-street shop and buy whatever I want. And I have so much energy – I run up the stairs at home, and I’ve even done hillwalking. Since losing weight I no longer suffer from a painful skin condition which saw me in and out of hospital, and I can’t remember the last time I had a cold.

My doctor’s really pleased with me – he told me that I’ve probably saved my own life. 

I feel so much happier. Last summer we went on holiday to Benidorm and I had the best time. I fitted comfortably in the seat on the plane and I didn’t even need the extension belt. It felt amazing to sunbathe without people staring at me and I could walk around in the sun all day. For the first time in my life I feel just like everyone else around me – and that’s what I’ve always wanted. 

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