Falling in love and having two babies are the best things that have ever happened to me – and the worst things to happen to my waistline!

I met my husband, Arash, at university, and getting to know each other involved dates at restaurants or enjoying home-cooked dinners together. My weight gain wasn’t drastic – I just got a bit too comfortable and didn’t notice the pounds creeping onto my size-10 frame.

As a curvy size 16, I resorted to an everyday ‘uniform’ that covered me up and sucked me in. 

The day my go-to outfit stopped feeling comfortable was the day that I decided something had to change. I looked in the mirror and saw that I was only just squeezing into my trusty khaki jeans, and that my favourite cover-up cardigan no longer covered me up.

As I stared in shock at my reflection, I remembered a friend saying she’d lost weight with Slimming World. So I went online to find my local group and called another friend who I thought might come with me. We decided to go along that evening.

My new beginning

From the very start, I realised this was a way of eating I could maintain for life and that it could fit in with my family, too.

I lost 4lbs in my first week and the weight continued to come off. I learned to recreate my favourite Iranian dishes without oil by making them in a slow cooker. And whenever I did get stuck, my group was on hand with their support and advice.

I reached my initial 10st 7lbs target, four months after joining. I was thrilled – even on my previous quick-fix diets, I’d never got down to less than 11st.

Knowing I could be slimmer and still enjoy proper food was amazing – I thought, ‘I can’t just let this go’.

At first, I found maintaining my target much harder than losing weight in the first place and I’d get cross with myself each time I had a gain. For example, at one point I’d actually slipped a little below target and weighed 10st 3lbs. Then I went on holiday, lost some of my focus and stopped weighing my Healthy Extras.

When I finally went back to my group three months later and stepped on the scales, I’d gained more than half a stone. So I went back to basics and I started a food diary like the one I’d kept when I first joined. That week I lost 3½lbs, getting me back on track. I decided to reset my goal to 10st, and I achieved it.

Feeling fitter

After I’d lost almost 2st, I began to have more energy and feel more confident about myself. I decided I’d use my time to go for longer, faster walks, and set myself the goal of crossing the whole width of Richmond Park – about two-and-a-half miles.

As I lost weight, exercise started to feel different – more rewarding. After a little while, I could cross the park easily.

Losing weight has allowed me to be my true self. There’s no hiding away any more.

I love social events, and being invited out is a joy now that I actually enjoy getting dressed up. My next goal is my career. Before I had my children I completed a degree in interior design, though I always had an excuse for not starting up a business. Now I have the confidence to go for it! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Dinner for four

Here’s how Rasha gets her whole family excited about healthy eating

  • Finding dishes we can all enjoy together has been surprisingly easy. My kids love getting involved in the kitchen. They’ll help me by peeling the oranges for a fruit salad or assembling their own healthier pizzas.

  • Themed meals are another way we keep things interesting. For Mexican night, I’ll make a Slimming World chilli con carne. The children and Arash will have theirs with a wholemeal wrap, while I’ll spoon mine into leaves of romaine lettuce, with chopped tomatoes and my Healthy Extra cheese. I’ll also bring out the chopsticks for Chinese night, or I’ll make fish and chips – baked salmon fillets topped with extra-light soft cheese and crushed Ryvita Thins, served with Slimming World chips and broccoli. It’s the kids’ favourite.

  • My favourite Iranian dishes still get a look-in. I make marinades for meat using delicious Syn-free ingredients and use low-calorie cooking spray when frying. And, instead of cooking my rice the traditional way, adding lots of oil at the end to give it a crispy base, I do it in my slow cooker, which helps the base crisp up all by itself.

  • Turning dinner into an occasion makes all of us appreciate the food we’re eating, and we love sitting around the table as a family. Arash has benefited from the Slimming World effect, too. He’s lost 1st 7lbs since I joined group, just by enjoying our tasty new family recipes.