When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my younger son, George, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was crushed. I’d always been a bit of a comfort eater, and I found myself using chocolate and takeaways as a coping mechanism more than ever.

Dad died when George was just three months old. With a tiny baby and his elder brother, Harry, to look after, plus a full-time job, I didn’t really take enough time to grieve – or to look after myself.

I didn’t have the energy for anything other than a few glasses of wine, some biscuits, and a takeaway or ready meal.

I thought I was making myself feel better, but as the weight went on and I felt more and more sluggish, I just felt worse.

I gained around 6st over the next six years, all the time pretending it didn’t bother me. Sean knew I was unhappy, but didn’t want to upset me by talking about my weight. I never went near my scales, avoided mirrors and hid my body beneath loose, dark clothes.

I wanted to look good at 40

I tried several quick-fix diets before joining Slimming World. It had hit me that I was rapidly approaching 40 – and I wanted to feel good about myself on my milestone birthday.

While some people have quick losses, I’ve taken the ‘scenic’ route, reaching my first target of 10st in four years. I reset my target a little lower and I’m now the slimmest I’ve ever been in my adult life – a size 10.

One of my new healthier habits is cooking from scratch. Food Optimising recipes are so easy and family-friendly. We like lots of the recipes from the Slimming World’s Fakeaways book, and Harry and George are big fans of my home-made chicken nuggets – served, of course, with delicious Slimming World chips.

When I think about the way I live now, compared with when I was overweight, I’m a completely different person.

When I was bigger, I’d refuse to go anywhere near a pool with the kids – I couldn’t bear to be seen in a swimming costume. Now I’m slim, we’ve got a family membership at the local leisure centre.

I used to do office work, then as the boys grew up I needed a job that fitted into school hours, and became a dinner lady. Initially, running around with the children all day exhausted me – now, I’m the first one to volunteer for an egg-and-spoon race on sports day.

Something to celebrate

Setting myself the goal of losing weight in time for my 40th birthday really kept me motivated. When the big day came, I was down to 10st 2lbs and wore a pair of skinny jeans, a sweet little top and a stylish leather jacket. My boys were incredibly proud of me. I was pretty chuffed, too. In fact, I still am!

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