Dear Rosemary,

You’re more than 21st now and I wish, with all my heart, that I could wrap both my arms around you and give you the enormous hug you so desperately need. You’re 30 but you may as well be 80.

Your days are spent eating, reading, taking care of your pets and watching television. You’re too unwell with epilepsy, agoraphobia, depression, acid reflux and back problems to have a job, sustain a relationship, or even go out of your own front door.

You started battling your weight age 10. One day, out of the blue, a teacher saw you in shorts and nicknamed you ‘thunder thighs’.

The damage to your self-esteem was colossal and from then on, whenever you looked in the mirror, you saw yourself as overweight.

You spent the whole of secondary school alternating between unsustainable crash diets and giving in to your hunger pangs with chocolate, cakes and crisps.

You stayed at home permanently. You missed so much. You’d even hid upstairs when visitors came, fearful that they’d make comments about your weight.

One day, you noticed that one of your few remaining friends was looking slimmer and you asked her what she ate. The answer – big meals and lots of treats – flew in the face of everything you’d learned in your 20-year dieting history. You quickly found the Slimming World website and resolved to give Food Optimising a try at home.

A brave new world

Rosemary, it was one of the best decisions you ever made. Mum had always cooked healthy evening meals, such as chicken with vegetables, and she was enthusiastic about the Slimming World recipes you found online. You made sure you had three proper meals a day and snacked on grapes, kiwi fruit or cherries.

Yes, it was a huge change and sometimes you gave in to your old cravings. You were still eating quite a few ready-made sauces, which were high in Syns, too. Even so, you lost nearly 5st in a year. And then your weight loss stalled.

So you made what turned out to be another brilliant choice. Despite your crippling agoraphobia and your fear of ridicule, you resolved to join your local Slimming World group.

It took real courage to walk through those doors for the first time. And instead of the rude comments and harsh judgement you’d feared, you met kindness and empathy. You listened to every word Liza, your Consultant, had to say. And then you went home, cleared out the cupboards, planned a menu and did an online supermarket shop.

Spurred on by realising you really could make positive changes, you dragged your unused cross-trainer back into the kitchen. At first, you were so unfit that you could manage no more than a minute at a time. Yet, filled with a sudden belief and a determination you never knew you possessed, you soldiered on until you could manage five-minute sessions, then 10 minutes, then 20.

Working out on that cross-trainer soon replaced chocolate and cakes as your everyday stress-buster.

As the weight came off and your confidence picked up, you realised something. Your epilepsy seemed to have disappeared. You’d been used to having up to six seizures a week and you hadn’t had one since the week you’d joined group. Your doctors were delighted with these improvements and told you that if you managed two years without seizures, you could learn to drive – something you never thought you’d achieve.

You could barely believe that you were down to 10st 7lbs. You’d lost more than half your body weight since first finding out about Slimming World. What an amazing achievement for someone who still hardly ever left home without suffering extreme anxiety; someone who had only just started venturing out to pubs and concerts, let alone thinking about dates, boyfriends or getting her own home.

You’d reached your target weight of 10st 2lbs, you were confident enough to visit clothes shops in person – although you still tended to pick up size 24s out of habit. When a shop assistant persuaded you to try a size-12 dress and it was too big, you burst into tears.

At the same time you were training to become a Slimming World Consultant yourself and planning to open your first group. The idea was stressful for you – you’d never had a job and hadn’t stood up in front of a big group since you were a teenager. You even lost a bit more weight during the training and had to re-set your target a little lower, to 9st 11lbs. Since you began your slimming journey you’ve lost nearly 12st!

However, you couldn’t wait to share the slimming knowledge that had helped set free the Rosemary who’d been hiding indoors for years, wearing size-30 tracksuit bottoms.

Losing weight has not only helped heal your body, it’s building your confidence – and giving you the chance of a career, a future. It’s going to enable you to have a life that’s happier and more fulfilling than you could ever have dreamed. I promise.

Love from Rosemary xx

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