Toned, fit figures in T-shirts and shorts stormed around the assault course, each holding a heavy log at shoulder height. As I watched, I knew that those soldiers were something I was not: fighting fit and ready for deployment. Having injured my back during battle training in 2013, I couldn’t take part and, shrouded in my baggy top and elasticated trousers, I was bound to be teased as usual about my ‘sick note’.

Having served in the Army for nearly 20 years with the Adjutant General’s Corps, I’d worked my way up to staff sergeant but I’d never felt as poor a role model as I did now. As well as wondering if I was letting down the junior soldiers, I could be discharged as unfit for deployment, despite all the support the Army had given me to help my return to fitness.

Back home with my husband, Karl (a sergeant major), and my two youngest sons, I’d comfort myself with a stodgy ready meal or order in a takeaway.

One morning in August 2015, I woke up and decided the only person holding me back was me. I was already a size 20 and was only going to keep getting bigger if I didn’t get help. With Karl at my side, I walked into the camp doctor’s office and just minutes later walked out again with 12 weeks’ membership of my local group after being offered Slimming World on Referral.

From the moment I joined my Consultant Tracy’s group, I knew I wouldn’t weigh 15st 8½lbs much longer. I’d begin the day with poached eggs on Healthy Extra ‘b’ toast with smoked salmon, then choose a tuna-topped jacket potato with salad for lunch. For dinner, I’d heat up one of our new family favourites, such as Slimming World spaghetti bolognese or lasagne, which I’d batch cooked in advance.

As the weight dropped off, something amazing happened – my back began to hurt less. I started returning to PT sessions and building up my fitness. In time, the junior ranks were struggling to keep up with me!

I’ve now run three half-marathons and competed in cross-country finals for the Six Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, where I’m currently serving. Nobody’s teasing me any more – when I’m leading the charge on the assault course, in a fitted T-shirt, I feel about 20 years younger!

What’s Slimming World on Referral?

The Slimming World on Referral scheme is a programme that lets health professionals offer patients 12 weeks’ free membership of their local group. The scheme operates in many areas where funding has been made available.

If you’re overweight, motivated to change and would like the chance to attend a Slimming World group without charge, contact your GP practice to see if it participates in the scheme.

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