When I was 16, my best friend, Cara, died of meningitis. I was absolutely devastated and I really struggled to cope. I’d never had a weight problem before but suddenly I was turning to pastries and chips for comfort, and I quickly formed a new emotional-eating habit. 

I’d had problems with my legs since my teens, but doctors put it down to the trauma of losing my friend. Then, some years later, I woke up one night and had lost all function and feeling from the waist down. I was taken to hospital and diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, and ended up hospitalised for six weeks.

One day when my mum was visiting, she and my two boys took me outside in my wheelchair, to the park at the side of the hospital. While Mum was pushing me, she lost control on a slope and I ended up stuck in a bush. Because I was too heavy, Mum was unable to pull me back out and she had to get a passer-by to help – my children saw the whole thing and it was so humiliating. 

The experience itself was embarrassing enough, but when my oldest son, Deon, asked me how we’d ever go out as a family if I was too heavy to be pushed in a wheelchair, it broke my heart.

I knew I had to do something about my weight, as it was one aspect of my health that I could take control of.

As luck would have it, a Slimming World leaflet dropped through my letter box soon afterwards. I was so nervous about joining my local group. By then, I was a size 28 and I spent most of my time just wanting to hide away. But, deep down, I desperately wanted to do this for myself and, when I took that first step, I was overwhelmed by the kindness from everyone in the room.

I fell in love with Food Optimising straight away – it fitted perfectly around family life and meant we could all enjoy the same meals, like roast dinners, curries and burgers. I just prepared and cooked everything differently. I was a bit of a ‘jar girl’ before, so cooking from scratch was a real eye-opener for me. It’s just a way of life now and I couldn’t imagine living any differently.

I absolutely love the members’ website – it’s such an encyclopaedia of information! It really helps to keep me motivated... If I’m in the supermarket and I’m thinking about what to have for dinner, I’ll just have a look at the different recipes online and pick up the ingredients.

Within 18 months, I’d slimmed from 21st 7lbs to 10st 6lbs and felt so much more positive about my body image.

When I began my weight loss journey, I was still fairly mobile, but my condition has worsened over the years and I can no longer walk. My house and car are fully adapted, which maintains my independence – and, of course, I’ve managed to keep the weight off because Slimming World truly does work for everyone, whether you’re able-bodied or not.

As time went on, I realised that I really wanted to become a Consultant myself, so I could inspire other people who perhaps believed that they’d never be able to lose weight. I’ve had lots of support from my family, who help me set up my groups, and I have two wonderful venues which are fully wheelchair-accessible. I absolutely love being a Consultant and seeing members change before my eyes. It’s a wonderful feeling – in fact, it’s the best job in the world.

Getting active

Before joining Slimming World I was very inactive, yet since losing weight I’ve found lots of ways to stay fit. With Body Magic, members are encouraged to increase physical activity at their own pace – to take small steps toward a more active lifestyle. For me, activities like getting dressed or having a shower all count. 

Despite my health problems, I don’t let anything hold me back – I love using upper-body machines at my wheelchair-accessible gym to keep myself feeling fit. Members of my groups aren’t afraid to talk about activity just because I’m in a wheelchair – they know that getting active means something different for everyone. 

I feel so proud to be named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant! It’s not often that you see someone like me in newspapers or magazines. I hope that by winning this competition, I’ve proven that Slimming World works for everyone and that there’s help out there for people who want to lose weight, no matter what their situation is. 

I’m living proof that it works – and that it works for life!  

My MS will never be the most interesting thing about me, but it’s also not going away, so I’m just going to embrace it and use my experiences in the most positive way I can. One day, my illness will win the battle but when that day comes, I want my friends and family to say: ‘She loved the life she lived and she did her best.’ Giving up isn’t an option for me – and I’ll always help others along the way as best I can.

Natasha’s day on a plate

Then 

Breakfast: Nothing.

Lunch: Sandwich or pastry from a bakery, along with a cake and a packet of crisps. 

Dinner: Microwave meal or something made from a jar.

Snacks: Chocolate, sweets, more crisps.

Now

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with fat-free natural yogurt and fresh fruit.

Mid-morning snack: Fruit.

Lunch: Jacket potato with beans or tuna and sweetcorn, and a big salad.

Dinner: Home-made roast dinner, or a Slimming World-style burger and chips or curry made from scratch.

Evening snack: Low Syn treats or fruit. 

Watch Natasha’s story here

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