‘A christening should be a cause for celebration and joy. And I tried to smile for my friend and her new baby, I really did. Maybe it was the room full of women in pretty dresses, contrasting so strongly with my size-24 maternity outfit – all I could fit into following the birth of my second child six weeks earlier.
After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, over-eating and generally feeling out of control around food, I was filled with a new determination to change my eating habits for good for the sake of my family. My mum died when I was only 15, and my dad less than 10 years later. So I knew at first hand the devastating impact of losing a parent young.
Steve and I met when I was working on the tills at a local supermarket. Food was a shared pleasure and I matched Steve bite for bite. The only problem was that, at 6ft 7ins, he could eat much more than me.
When Steve proposed, I began to think about how I'd look in a wedding dress and concluded – yet again – that I needed to lose weight. Then came the happy news that we were expecting a baby. So I was a size-22 bride, with the dress let out to accommodate my bump.
When I had my first baby, Alister, I thought a high-protein diet might help me slim down. Unfortunately, although I lost several stones, it made me feel dreadfully ill and thoroughly bad-tempered. As soon as I started eating normally again, the weight piled back on.
Even before becoming pregnant with Abigail, my weight was preventing me from enjoying family life. When we went out as a family, I felt self-conscious and miserable, unable even to enjoy a fairground ride for fear that I wouldn't fit into the seat. I would puff and pant when climbing up stairs, and according to my worried husband, Steve, I was even gasping for breath in my sleep.
Welcome to Slimming World
When I joined Slimming World I was determined to keep off any weight I lost this time. Before, my motivation was mainly about looking good – now I was focused on changing to a healthy, sustainable way of eating. I knew that with a tiny baby to look after, this would mean preparation and planning, and I promised myself that I would get busy in the kitchen.
I bought ready-chopped veggies for speed, and first thing in the morning I'd throw them in the slow cooker, then put a chicken on top. By evening I had a beautifully cooked supper that the whole family loved.
I also invested in a healthy fryer that made perfectly crispy Slimming World chips without the addition of anything more than a squirt of low-calorie cooking spray.
The meals were delicious, and so were my weight losses. Within six weeks I had lost a stone. There were glitches – in August 2011, I was well on my way to my 2st award when we went on an all-inclusive family holiday to Majorca and I gained 10½lbs. When I got back, I got straight back to Food Optimising again and lost 9lbs! If ever I needed proof that Slimming World works, there it was.
I decided that if I could settle both little ones in their double buggy, I could get fit while doing the school run. So twice a day I puffed my way up the big hill to Alister's school. It was really hard at first, but soon got easier and I found I had so much more energy. At the weekends, we started to go out as a family, walking around some local beauty spots. I loved being in the fresh air.
I carried on losing steadily throughout 2012 and 2013. I didn't actually feel slim until March 2013 when I was shopping for a new outfit and fitted comfortably into a size 12. I'd halved my dress size! I was showered with lovely comments – one man even told Steve that he had a “stunning” wife!
Every day is an opportunity for fun now that I'm slim. I can clamber around a soft-play centre with my little ones without fear of getting stuck, fit into any ride at an amusement park, and sit on an aeroplane without worrying about getting the tray over my tummy.
And when it comes to taking the children to school, these days I don't dread it, or hide away in the car. No longer the biggest mum at the school gate, I'm happy to walk right in alongside Abigail and James with my head held high.’
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.