In my late 20s I found myself in an unhealthy relationship, which left me feeling useless and lonely; I turned to food for comfort and the weight crept on. Within a few weeks of splitting from my partner, I was horrified to be cruelly taunted about my size in the street by a so-called family friend.

I’d tried so many times to lose weight – you name it, I’d done it – and one of my biggest fears was failing again. I’ve always had a big appetite, so whether it was tiny diet ready meals or calorie counting, there was never enough food and I’d only be able to stick at it for a few weeks. Then I’d be left feeling like I’d let myself and everyone around me down again – it was soul destroying.

My 30th birthday was looming and it felt like a wake-up call. So, when my friend suggested we join Slimming World, I knew the timing was right for me.

I was petrified that on my first night at group I’d have to announce my weight to everyone. I imagined it would be a bit like an AA meeting where I’d have to stand up and say, ‘I’m Kim and I weigh…’. Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead I got a really warm welcome and, for the first time in a long time, I realised I wasn’t alone.

When I heard about Food Optimising, it seemed too good to be true – I couldn’t believe I could eat pasta, potatoes and chocolate and still lose weight.

The realisation that I didn’t have to feel hungry or go without was amazing.

I lost 7lbs in my first two weeks, enjoying full English breakfastscurries and even a small bar of chocolate in the evening. It took me just six months to drop from 13st 6½lbs to my 8st 13½lbs target.

I was so enthusiastic about Slimming World that I trained as a Consultant, and for 13 years I ran groups alongside my job as a primary school teacher. I gave up the role briefly when I became a head teacher, then when I left teaching two years ago I went back to running groups. I’d missed Slimming World so much and when I trained as a Consultant for the second time, it felt like coming home.

Slimming World taught me so much about myself and completely changed the way I think about everything.

I learned to stop hating myself and to not feel guilty if I went off track – everyone’s human and it’s just about getting back to healthy eating.

Most of all, I learned to believe in myself. I’m so much more confident now. I have a wardrobe full of colourful clothes that I’d never have worn at my biggest, and I’ve even travelled to New Zealand on my own. I don’t rely on food to make me feel better any more – I’ve found a healthy new lifestyle that I know works for me.

Although it still hurts when I think back to the day I was shouted at in the street, I’m so proud to have channelled that hurt into something positive. My advice to anyone who’s unhappy with their weight is to take that first step – I’ve never looked back!

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