I’d never really felt comfortable with my body and I tried everything to be slim. I went on my first diet at 13 and spent the next 15 years battling with my weight. Nothing worked, because I always felt hungry and deprived. Comfort eating was a big problem for me and it would spiral out of control whenever I was unhappy.

Something as simple as putting on a seat belt was a nightmare, because the clip would dig painfully into my leg. I was always tired, just walking up the stairs would leave me out of breath and I couldn’t even do a basic 10-minute workout without everything hurting. 

The final straw was seeing my wedding photographs: I was the biggest I’d ever been, my dress was a size 22 and I cried for days after looking at them. In fact, I was so upset, I couldn’t bring myself to get them out again for months afterwards. I hated everything about myself, and I began to hide my true personality as well as my body.

Making the change

I knew about Slimming World because I’d gone along with a friend to her first session when I was younger. I only wish I’d stuck with it then. The plan didn’t sound like the restrictive diets I’d been used to – you could still eat pasta for a start! 

My dad and I joined a group together so we could support each other, but I was still terrified about walking through that door. I hadn’t stepped on the scales in years, as I was too ashamed to see the number. I tried to make myself invisible in group, but my Consultant, Bronwyn, couldn’t have been more supportive – she never gave up on me, and she made sure I didn’t give up on myself either. 

Dad and I stuck together, and we had a bit of friendly competition over who could lose the most each week. 

Soon, I was celebrating along with my group, sharing our moments of joy and success.

Freedom in food

I was very much a convenience-food girl before Slimming World – everything I ate was very beige and processed! Gradually, though, I learned how to cook the Food Optimising way and now I eat so many different foods. My favourite meal is chilli beef mac and cheese – it feels like something I ‘shouldn’t’ be eating, but it’s completely slimming-friendly! 

Nothing is off limits, so long as you make a plan – and that planning just becomes a habit and part of your lifestyle after a while. I still go out for meals, and the staff at my local coffee shop even measure my milk to help me out! My friends and family have been incredibly supportive, too, and they consult me on their dinner party menus and restaurant choices, so I always know there will be something to eat that fits with Food Optimising.

The first week I had a gain, I was so frustrated with myself and I felt embarrassed to admit I’d slipped off track. Once again, Bronwyn was there with the words of encouragement I needed to get myself back up and moving forward. I looked back at my ‘before’ pictures, too, and reminded myself why I was doing this and that was all it took to get my head back in gear. 

My entire lifestyle has changed. I’m not afraid to take the stairs any more, or of walking instead of driving. I can go on hikes without fear of getting so breathless that I’ll end up in pain. I’ve discovered a love of spin classes and Pilates. I even have a special ‘gym outfit’ wardrobe – something I’d never imagined I’d need!

I love shopping now. I used to cry in changing rooms, as nothing would fit, and I avoided mirrors. Now, my wardrobe is diverse and fashionable, and I enjoy playing around with new styles and standing out from the crowd.

I’ve found myself again

I’d gained so much weight that I’d lost sight of who I was. I used to spend my days hiding from the world, never drawing attention to myself. Since losing weight, though, my confidence has soared! I realised that if I had the discipline and determination to change myself like that, there was nothing I couldn’t do. So I learned to stand up for myself and I found the courage to make necessary changes in my personal life, including, sadly, ending my marriage. 

At the start of my journey, I felt worthless. I was in such despair over my appearance that it actually changed my personality. Now, I’ve found myself again and I feel like a completely different person.

We all need to love ourselves and be proud of who we are. I want to show people who feel they have no options and they can’t do it that they do and they definitely can!

Watch Verity tell her story

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