I've got a confidence that comes from within!
Gone are the days when 26-year-old Abby Earl from Beccles, Suffolk hid away from the world – with her new body and 4st 8lbs* weight loss came a new-found self-belief.
"My weight problems began when I graduated from uni and started work as a product buyer. I’d put on a stone or so as a student, and now, sitting all day at a desk coupled with a serious fast-food habit meant the pounds really piled on. I set out on a series of crash diets that left me shaking with hunger. And the weight I lost went straight back on when I gave up trying and went back to my usual menu of pizzas, fried chicken, and bacon baguettes slathered in mayonnaise.
"My boyfriend Danny tried to reassure me I was fine the way I was, but as my weight increased, I hated the way I looked so much, I wanted to disappear. I tried to avoid cameras and if a friend posted a picture of me on social media, I would untag myself immediately – I couldn’t bear anyone seeing how overweight I’d become. To make matters worse, I’d developed adult acne, which flushed my face red and caused horrible breakouts that resisted any treatment.
"By March 2013, I was nearly 16st and an unhappy size 18, dreading any situation where someone might notice my size or my skin. I remember looking at my friends in their cute little tops and skirts, while I was covered up in a baggy T-shirt dress and tights. I felt like the odd one out. The final straw was going out for a friend’s birthday. Nothing fitted me and I felt so awful, I ended up going home early, before the celebrations had even started. I ordered myself a pizza and cried my eyes out as I ate it. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I was eating to cheer myself up about feeling overweight and unattractive – and it made no sense at all! Something inside my head clicked and I made the decision to join Slimming World.
Straight away I could see Food Optimising was for me. The variety of recipes you could make was endless and I soon developed a new passion for cooking from scratch, especially Slimming World curries. We had a different one every Friday!
"I really started to see a difference in August 2013, when I hit my interim target of 12st 11lbs and went shopping for a holiday wardrobe. I was amazed to slip into size-14 dresses – the last time I could do that, I was at uni. Since then, I’ve filled six bin bags with my frumpy old clothes and replaced them with bright, slim-fitting outfits from high-street shops I’d never dared to enter before. The firm I work for has an annual Christmas party and last year, instead of disguising myself in something sack-like in black, I wore a beautiful fitted blue and cream lace dress.
"Food Optimising didn’t just slim my body – it had a dramatic effect on my complexion, too. Only four weeks after ditching the ready meals, my acne began to clear up and I felt able to come out from beneath my layers of concealer, foundation and bronzer. I’d had loads of medical appointments about my skin, but no one had ever challenged me about my diet. I’m certain there’s a link: a few months ago, I slipped off plan for a few days, eating pizza and takeaways, and almost immediately came out in spots, which disappeared as soon as I got back on track.
"I lost 4st 7lbs in 12 months, and I’ve now reset my target, aiming for a final weight loss of 5st exactly. I’m so full of energy. I go to the gym three times a week and enjoy long walks and bike rides with Danny. And you know what? Not long ago, I went out for that same friend’s birthday and was so excited. I partied the whole night long!"
Abby’s celebrating... Taking on new challenges
"Only three years ago, I was too timid to speak in public – just the thought of giving a presentation to my eight colleagues would give me the fear. Now, that shy Abby has been replaced by someone with confidence and passion, and I think nothing of standing up in front of a room full of people. In fact, I do it every week as a Slimming World Consultant! I now run two groups – one in Loddon, Norfolk and another in my home town of Beccles. I’ve realised I’m the kind of person who loves to be busy, and I’ve got enough energy to embrace every challenge that comes my way."
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.