We were on holiday in Egypt and I couldn’t wait to relax by the swimming pool. I lowered myself onto the sunlounger, then time seemed to slow down as I felt the legs give way beneath me, sending me crashing to the ground. As a crowd gathered round, asking if I was OK, I laughed it off. ‘I’m fine,’ I insisted. Deep down, though, I was burning with embarrassment.

My mum died when I was 14 and, faced with making dinner for my dad, I turned to convenience food. Thirty years of comfort eating and yo-yo dieting followed, and I gradually got bigger. I worked as a support assistant in a primary school, and when I started struggling to get down on the floor to play with the kids, I knew I had to get help.

My doctor agreed to refer me for a gastric-band operation, but after my holiday nightmare, I couldn’t wait. ‘I’ll pay for the surgery privately,’ I told my daughter Melissa. ‘Please don’t do it, Mum,’ she said. ‘Come to Slimming World with me instead.’ That’s when it dawned on me how self-conscious and unhappy she was, too. We’d do this together.

From the moment I joined group, everything changed. With my Consultant Mari’s kind and caring support, and Melissa by my side, I started cooking from scratch for the very first time.

I kept it simple with Food Optimising pasta dishes, home-made soup and lots of Speed Free Food veg. And it wasn’t long before my best friend, Suzanne, joined, too.

As the weight came off, I became happier and more confident. Then, when I’d lost 7st, I was called up on to the stage in school assembly and presented with an award for my weight loss, while all the children cheered. It was wonderful.

We’ve been back to Egypt and this time, rather than having to laugh off any embarrassment, I walked along the beach in my bikini with my head held high. Next we’re going to Dubai for my husband John’s 50th and I know I’ll have an amazing time. That’s such a great feeling!

With a little help from...

Siobhan shares the tricks that made a difference to her slimming journey, and the treats (and people) that spurred her to success.

  • I used to find it hard to believe my husband, John, when he told me I looked gorgeous. Now I feel good about myself, I love going to special occasions with him, all dressed up.

  • When I want a treat, I have something I’ll really appreciate. Like a 125ml glass of 11-12% vol. Prosecco for 5 Syns, or 25g sweet popcorn for 6 Syns.

  • Having workout wear I feel good in really helps motivate me to get active. For me, there’s nothing like a new pair of trainers!

  • As I started losing weight, I got braver with my outfit choices and even my make-up. These days, you’ll often find me in a red fitted dress and my favourite red lippy.

My go-to recipe is a Food Optimising version of chicken nuggets – my whole family loves them and they only take 40 minutes to whip up, so they're great for busy weeknights.

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