I’d struggled with my weight since I was young. Throughout primary and secondary school I was the biggest in my class, and the other kids made sure I knew it.  

At college, I fell in love with performing arts. I was always the shy one, though, hiding at the back in baggy clothes, and I’d never put myself forward for roles. I settled for the ‘big girl’ parts instead – my confidence was at rock bottom.

When I was 17 I met my boyfriend, Scott. I gained 4st 7lbs in a year from starving myself all day and only eating when I got home. I felt so ashamed of myself that I became obsessed with searching online for ways to lose weight, and would spend hours doing it.

Looking for a quick fix, I tried all the fad diets – the raw diet, all-day fasting, protein shakes – you name it, I tried it! I’d end up starving hungry and sooner or later, I’d give up.

The final straw was when I was asked to move seats on a rollercoaster at Thorpe Park because the bar wouldn’t fasten. It was really humiliating.

I sat down with my mum and confided in her about my weight worries. She was already a Slimming World member, so I agreed to join her at our local group.

It felt hard in the beginning because, at 17, I was the youngest in the group. When Mum and I walked in together my Consultant, Robyn, was really welcoming, though, and talked me through the Food Optimising plan. It sounded too good to be true!

I went home that night and planned my meals for the week with Mum. I began swapping my takeaway pizzas for home-made curries and changed my regular chocolate bars for exotic fresh fruit.

After my first three weeks, I’d lost a stone and gained some much-needed confidence. I got really stuck into group, making friends and looking forward to helping out every week.

As my energy increased, I decided to conquer my fear of exercise. I used to hate anything sporty because it would make me red and sweaty. I was too ashamed of my size to go to a gym – I thought everyone would stare or laugh at me. Now I’ve joined a gym and I love it. It makes me feel strong.

In just over a year, I’ve lost 4st 10lbs and gone from a size 18 to a 12. I’ve changed on the inside, too. I finally feel like I can complete my life-long ambition of singing and dancing on stage. I’ve started taking dance lessons outside of college and I've even had the confidence to take part in a dance competition. I'd never have considered it before!

Being overweight as a young person can be very difficult and something I wish no one had to go through, so if I can inspire just one person to make a change I’ll be very happy. Losing weight isn’t a fix for all of life’s problems, but it’s a great start and losing weight certainly changed things for me and my family.

 

Before:

Breakfast: Nothing.

Mid-morning: Crisps.

Lunch: A takeaway meal.

Mid-afternoon: Chocolate bar.

Dinner: Takeaway pizza.

Evening: More chocolate.

 

After:

Breakfast: Porridge topped with fresh fruit.

Mid-morning: A fat-free yogurt.

Lunch: Jacket potato with a big salad.

Mid-afternoon: Fresh fruit, including mango and pineapple.

Dinner: Home-made curry or stir-fry.

Evening: Small chocolate bar.