At 18st and a size 22, I was conscious of my weight every minute of every day. I didn’t like undressing in front of my partner, Jay, and I hated looking in the mirror – I just didn’t recognise the person looking back at me and felt like I was losing myself. I had joint, back and neck pain and felt tired all the time, with no energy to run around after my boys, 12-year-old twins Charlie and Keegan, and two-year-old Harry.
I often felt uncomfortable at work, too. I’m a primary school learning support assistant and I hated trying to squeeze on to the small children’s chairs.
I’d tried so many diets over the years, and they’d all resulted in me starving myself, becoming extremely unhealthy and then regaining the weight. It had an awful impact on my relationship with food. I was very much an emotional eater, using food and sugary drinks as a comfort.
I’d heard people talk about following Slimming World, and how successful they’d been. What really appealed to me was that they’d kept the weight off. I knew I needed something that would help me make a change for good, and in November 2019 I finally took the plunge and joined my local group.
I was so nervous. I had no idea what to expect. I sat in that first group with a shaky, wobbly lip and my heart beating out of my chest. Everyone was so lovely, though, and I was soon made to feel part of the family.
My Consultant, Vicky, and the rest of the group have been what’s really made the difference for me. Each week – even while we’ve not been able to meet in person, we’ve come together virtually – the group is like a reset button. I always come away buzzing and feeling motivated from the other members’ tips or ideas, and if someone’s in a hard place we all chip in to help them out. Everyone there knows what it’s like to struggle with your weight and how it can affect your self-esteem. It’s that kindness and empathy that’s helped me to understand myself better as a slimmer, too.
Slimming World has helped me to break the habit of starving myself to lose weight, and encouraged me to eat a well-balanced and varied diet.
I realise now that healthy eating isn’t about eating very little, it’s about choosing and preparing the right foods. I’ve completely fallen in love with cooking again and really enjoy trying new recipes.
Before, I’d fill up on takeaways, fast food and sugary lattes with cakes – sometimes to the point of feeling sick. With Food Optimising, I have three balanced meals a day. I love that me and the boys can all have the same meals, too. Our favourites at the moment are cottage pie and beef stew with vegetables.
I eat such a wide variety of food that I never feel I’m being restricted, and I’m certainly never hungry! When I’m supermarket shopping I use the Slimming World barcode scanner to help me stay on track with what I’m buying. It’s a godsend.
After talking about activity in group, I felt inspired to move more. I followed the Couch to 5K jogging programme, and have really enjoyed doing a trampoline fitness class. Best of all, though, since dropping to 10st 11lbs, I have a new lease of life. With so much more mobility, I can give my job 110%, and these days I love running around the playground with the children.
The fear of bumping into someone I hadn’t seen in a while used to be terrifying, as I’d just worry about them noticing how much weight I’d put on. I’d often quickly make a joke about it before they could say anything.
Now I enjoy seeing people, and they can’t get over how much weight I’ve lost.
Jay loves my new confidence and the fact I don’t slap his hand away when we have a cuddle – I was just so self-conscious about him being able to feel the rolls around my middle.
I always struggled choosing what to wear, but dropping six dress sizes has made me feel I can showcase my personality through my clothes. I don’t worry any more about wearing bright colours that attract attention. In fact, I like it!
People often ask if I feel like a new woman. I don’t, because I feel like the person I always was on the inside. I used to feel trapped in my body – now I’ve been set free. Some people have even said I look a bit like Meghan Markle, which is a huge compliment!
Nothing, or sugary cereal.
Home-made Slimming World waffles or pancakes topped with fresh fruit and sugar-free caramel syrup.
Cake or biscuits with a sugary coffee.
Piece of fruit and a coffee.
‘Meal deal’ of shop-bought sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and fizzy drink.
Omelette or a ‘picky’ platter.
Crab sticks or fresh fruit.
Large portion of something frozen and oven cooked with chips, or a takeaway.
Cottage pie topped with carrot and swede mash and served with roasted vegetables.
Biscuits, chocolate, crisps.
Frozen pineapple with fat-free natural yogurt, a couple of Hi-fi bars and a cup of bedtime tea.
*Weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.