A crowd began to gather around the leafy enclosure. It was feeding time for the lemurs, and as their keeper I was there to hand them apple slices and share some fun facts with the audience. Weaving my way through the vegetation, I lured the primates out from their sleeping quarters. Then, to the delight of the crowd, one of the cheeky chaps jumped onto my shoulder.

As I educated the visitors about these friendly creatures, I thought about how different it would have been when I was more than 5st heavier – I’d surely have got stuck in those hedges if I’d tried to squeeze through. At one feeding time I’d even heard somebody say: ‘One for the animals…one for the keeper…’

I did once lose a lot of weight on a programme of diet shakes, but when I started eating normally again I just couldn’t maintain it. All I wanted to do was to enjoy real food, and have more energy to run around and play with my little boy.

One day, I noticed that a colleague was looking much slimmer. When he explained he’d done it by eating filling meals following Slimming World, I decided to give it a go myself. I joined my local group and made changes straight away.

I’d have porridge for breakfast, home-made chicken pasta salad for lunch, then a dinner like grilled lean steak with Slimming World chips and salad. I joked that my snacks were the same as the animals’ – lots of fruit, with some nuts from my Syns.

After just two months, my plus-size work uniform was getting baggy, and I was able to switch to the regular style my other colleagues wore.

I’ve now trimmed 10ins off my waist and I can work with a wider range of animals, including the snakes, as I’m nimble enough to dodge out of the way if they make a fast strike!

After years of looking after animals, I decided I wanted to start helping people, too, and I trained as a Slimming World Consultant. Whichever job I’m doing, I get home full of energy to play with my son. And our family movie nights on the sofa are no longer the squeeze they once were – now there’s more than enough room for all three of us to snuggle up together.

 

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