I was just 17 and having a brilliant time on my first ever girls’ holiday when I overheard a group of boys calling me ‘the fat friend’. Rushing back to my hotel room in tears, I felt like I’d hit rock bottom. The holiday was ruined but, looking back, those cruel comments were the push that I needed towards a healthier lifestyle.
I’d been big all through my teens, with my weight really getting out of control when I went to college. Starting my first job in a clothes shop was mortifying as I had to choose my uniform from the menswear section – there was nothing in womenswear in a size 20.
In 2002, my godmother, Marion, suggested that we join Slimming World together. Despite being ready to make a change, I was worried that the group would judge me for weighing more than 16st at such a young age. But the reality is that every new member walks into a room full of people who’ve all had the same fears and worries.
Straight away, I could see that Slimming World was different to the diets I’d tried. Food Optimising teaches you about food and how to make good choices, whereas in the past I’d either overindulge in unhealthy foods or end up starving on shakes and pills. Slimming World is all about healthy foods that really fill you up, so I never felt like I was missing out.
I started by swapping my big bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for a super-satisfying plateful of grilled lean bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and beans. For lunch, I broke my daily meal deal habit and chose a jacket potato stuffed with tuna and salad instead. Dinner before would often be a jarred sauce with deep-fried chips, but with Slimming World I was enjoying home-made meals like spaghetti bolognese or stir-fry.
Treats aren’t off limits when you’re Food Optimising! I quickly learnt which chocolates and crisps had the lowest Syn values and could fit into my planned daily Syns. Alongside fat-free yogurts and fresh fruit, Hi-fi bars and low-calorie hot chocolate drinks with mini marshmallows were my go-to sweet snacks.
After a week one loss of 5½lbs, the weight continued to come off steadily at a healthy rate of around 1-2lbs a week. I found the half-stone Slimming World awards really motivating and I also enjoyed working through the Slimming World awards for Body Magic. Getting those certificates and stickers really helped me to hit my 10st 7lb target weight in 2005.
Losing weight when I did completely changed my life. It gave me so much more confidence in every respect. I got an amazing new job as airline cabin crew – there was no choosing uniform from the men’s selection this time – and I carried on Food Optimising as I travelled around the world, often boarding a flight clutching Tupperware filled with healthy meals and snacks. I married my husband, Nigel, wearing a beautiful size-10 wedding dress, took part in a bikini photo shoot and even lived in Dubai for five years. The world had become my oyster!
In 2014, I moved back to England and had my lovely little boy, Jenson. My change in priorities prompted a career change and, with nine years as a target member under my belt, I felt confident that I could inspire and help other slimmers as a Slimming World Consultant.
I was really proud to win one of the special Slimming World awards for Consultants – Top Target Consultant 2017!
Now I feel like I have the most rewarding job in the world. I love seeing people reach their weight loss goals because I know exactly what that feels like. I’m always really honest with my members. They know that I’m still a Slimming World member, attending a group every week to help me stay on track after 14 years at target. I want to show my members that I’m human too, and that Food Optimising isn’t a diet to pick up and drop – it’s a fantastic weight loss plan for life. Everyone deserves the chance to fly, and at Slimming World, our members soar!
It’s important to break the habit of rewarding yourself with food. When I was working towards my target weight, I loved the Slimming World awards that you get in group, or online if you’re an online member. I also like to treat myself to a bunch of flowers or some new clothes – shopping is a pleasure now I’m a size 10!
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.