When my husband Paul, a Royal Navy Warrant Officer, announced that we’d be relocating to Portugal for three years, my first thought was about how I’d look in a bikini. Instead of being excited, I was horrified at the prospect of moving to a hot and sunny country. I didn’t even like what I saw in the mirror when I was fully clothed! That was the moment I decided to do something about my weight once and for all. 

The pounds had crept on over the years. In my 20s, I enjoyed going out every weekend and eating and drinking whatever I wanted. Then I settled into family life and had two children. We got the news about our move not long after I’d had my second child. At 12st 7lbs and a size 16, I didn’t feel comfortable or confident, and I knew that would spoil what was meant to be a fantastic adventure.  

I also had health reasons for wanting to slim down. I’d been diagnosed with high cholesterol in my 20s – it’s something that runs in my family. My dad had a heart attack in his early 30s and my nan died of a heart attack in her late 50s, so it was definitely a worry for me. The options were either to take statins or lose weight, but despite this stark choice, it still took me many years to tackle my weight. 

In March 2001, I finally plucked up the courage to join a Slimming World group, going along with my sister-in-law for support. It felt a little daunting at first, but I quickly realised that I was in a group of people who all wanted to achieve the same thing. Everyone was so friendly and supportive, and there was always someone to turn to if I needed help and advice – whether that was my brilliant Consultant or my fellow members. 

As I learnt about Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan, I was pleasantly surprised. Members are encouraged to fill up on Free Foods, which include everyday foods such as lean meat, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables. I could still enjoy my hearty family favourites, like a Sunday roast or pasta dishes. I couldn’t believe that I could have carbs, socialise with friends, eat with my family and still lose weight! 

In July 2001, I hit my target weight of 9st 7lbs. I’d lost 3st 4lbs and slimmed to a size 10 in less than five months! It was perfectly timed for our move abroad, and I did indeed spend the next three years wearing a bikini at every opportunity. That weight loss made such a difference and, for the first time in a long time, I felt really happy and confident in myself. I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Portugal, making the most of the beautiful weather.

After we returned to the UK, I reached a point where I wanted to make a change from my job role in the NHS. I was still attending group as a target member, to get the support I needed to maintain my weight, and in 2012 I decided to apply to become a Slimming World Consultant. 

I absolutely love having my own group and seeing the change in members is so rewarding. It’s such a special feeling to see someone shy and low in confidence blossom into a chatty, confident person who’s just full of life. I’m so lucky to have a job that doesn’t feel like work at all! 

I’m now celebrating 21 years at my target weight, and I’m much fitter and healthier than I was before. Activity has been a big part of my journey, and over the years running really helped me to maintain my weight. Unfortunately, a car accident in 2020 forced me to stop. It happened at the same time as lockdown, so I was stuck in the house, eating and drinking more than usual. When I saw news stories about the link between Covid-19 complications and being overweight, it renewed my determination to keep the weight off. I wanted to make sure I was the healthiest I could be, so I decided to start running again, taking it gently at first. I love getting out in the Brecon Beacons near me – which are very hilly, so a good workout – and I find running is brilliant for my mental health, as well as my fitness.

I needed that escape after sadly losing my dad to Covid-19 in September 2021. Those next few months were the toughest of all my years at target, and with the support of my family, friends and my Slimming World family, I felt able to continue to make healthy choices for myself. 

Being named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2022 has really given me a lift. I remember feeling nervous when I first walked through those Slimming World doors, but it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve found wonderful friends, a world of support and a career I love. Most importantly, I’ve found everything that I need to stay slim and healthy for life. I’m not ready to give up my bikinis just yet! 

Watch Shelly talk about staying at target... and being a Consultant!

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