For as long as I could remember, I’d always been ‘the big girl’. I grew up on various Army garrisons, and my parents were constantly entertaining, so there was always lots of party food, like sausage rolls, cocktail sausages and cubes of cheese on sticks. After I’d finished my O levels, I got a job in the Royal Corps of Transport’s Brigade Travel Office in Berlin, where I met Wayne and fell in love.

Soon after our wedding, Wayne, then an RAF telegraphist, was posted to Sardinia. It was like one long holiday – I spent days at the beach, hiding as much of me as I could under a sarong, and developing a new-found love for the local salami, cheeses and red wine! On the flight back to the UK two years later, my heart sank when the seat belt only just fastened.

Despite being aware that my weight was going up and up, it wasn’t until years later, during a trip to the Lake District, that I realised something needed to change. After a day of puffing and panting up hills, I felt red-hot shooting pains in my foot. It turned out I’d damaged the tendons in my ankle and needed physiotherapy. By then, I was a size 24, and I was sure my weight had contributed to my injury.

When we got home, I met up with my friend, Elaine. ‘You look lovely,’ I said, noticing how much weight she’d lost recently. ‘It’s all down to Slimming World,’ she said. ‘I can pick you up next Thursday if you like and you can come with me?’ Buoyed by her amazing appearance, I said yes. With the support of my Consultant, Julie, and the other members in group, I completely overhauled my relationship with food and began living the life I’d always wanted!

Watch Sandie’s inspiring video...

Sandie’s five-day Food Optimising menu

I still get very enthusiastic about meal planning. Each week before we go shopping, Wayne and I flick through the Slimming World cookbooks and magazine, choosing a handful of recipes we fancy trying. Discovering a new curry or pasta dish, something that literally leaves my taste buds tingling, is a pleasure I’d missed out on for so long and it always gets me excited about the meals to come.