May 2004, 12st 7lbs

I’ve been feeling terrible recently – exhausted and with aching joints – and today I found out why. I have fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain all over the body. My asthma is also very bad and I’m having to use my inhaler. I’ve only been married to my lovely husband, Chris, for just over a year, and I feel like I’m already an old lady. It’s my second marriage and the wedding was wonderful – I’d slimmed down to a size 12 for my big day and beamed all the way through it. To get there, though, I’d lived on grapefruit and salad, and now that I was eating ‘normally’ I was back to a size 16.

March 2008, 13st 7lbs

For my 50th birthday, Chris has bought me a membership to our local spa and gym. I should be delighted – secretly, though, I’m terrified. I undergo a health assessment. My body fat is high at 48 per cent and my total cholesterol is 8.5 – nowhere near healthy. I’m so worried I go to my GP who tells me my heart health is the equivalent of a 76-year-old’s and refers me to an orthopaedic surgeon for my knee pain. I also have a fatty liver and I’m pre-diabetic.

February 2009, 13st 5lbs

Travelling to Australia to visit an old friend is an uncomfortable experience – my feet swell up horribly during the flight. Once I’m there, we go to a zoo where I have my picture taken with a koala. I’m gutted when I collect it from the photobooth, though. ‘They’ve given me the wrong one!’ I tell my friend. ‘I don’t look like that.’ She frowns at the photo and looks at me. Then I realise. I do look like that.

March 2009, 13st 5½lbs

My son William has finally talked me into joining Slimming World. He started going last December with his girlfriend and they love it. On my first night, everyone is welcoming. The only thing I’m sceptical of is the plan itself – I can’t believe I can eat as much as our Consultant, Mary, says and lose weight. Still, I know I have to try something.

July 2009, 10st 13lbs

Chris and I have come on holiday to France and I can’t believe how good I feel. In my first week at Slimming World I lost 3½lbs, and now I’m almost 2½st lighter. We’re hiking and swimming in lakes – things I thought I’d never be able to do when I was at my heaviest and struggling with fibromyalgia and asthma. Last year, I could barely climb the stairs; now I’m scaling mountains!

Even on holidays, Food Optimising makes it simple to plan what to eat each day. I still have chocolate – I just use my Syns. Although I know I’ve still got a way to go, I’m so glad I’ve started my journey.

I’m uncovering a new, more confident me with every pound I lose. At 51, I’m finally becoming the woman I want to be.

August 2010, 8st 9½lbs

When I joined Slimming World, I worried I’d have to eat the same foods all the time, but, more than a year in, I’m still finding loads of new ideas. I have a few easy staples, too – a typical day might be porridge with sliced banana or a healthy ‘fry-up’ for breakfast; chunky homemade soup for lunch, and lean steak or salmon with loads of roasted veg in the evening.

I hit my target of 9st in December 2009. The weight kept coming off, though, so I reset it to 8st 11lbs and I’ve been within a pound or two of that weight for a few months. It gets me thinking … I’d love to help others turn their lives, and health, around, just as Mary helped me. I go to a Slimming World opportunity day, attend an interview and a training course, and now I’m going to run my own group. I’m so excited!

October 2013, 8st 6lbs

I’ve lowered my target again, to 8st 7lbs, and I’ve been there for more than a year. After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, knowing I’m in control at last is amazing. I get so much satisfaction out of helping my Slimming World members lose weight – so much so that I’m planning to retire from my day job and focus on running my groups full time. For me it’s more about feeling confident in their own skin, the way I do at last.

I’ve seen members lose 1½st to 9½st – the numbers don’t matter, it’s the transformation in the way you feel about yourself that’s important.

August 2015, 8st 6lbs

My life has changed completely since I’ve been at target. I still weigh in every week and I have regular health check-ups, too: my body fat is down to 24%, my cholesterol is a far healthier 4.8, my asthma’s cleared up, I no longer show signs of either diabetes or a fatty liver, and I now have a ‘biological’ age of 51. My GP stopped mentioning knee problems long ago and while my fibromyalgia hasn’t disappeared, the symptoms are much improved, and I have so much more energy.

I used to shy away from socialising and was always turning down invitations. Now, I embrace life and I never say no to anything. It’s not just the way I look that’s changed – I feel like a different woman.

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