A mum who has struggled with her weight her whole life said she has finally got her life and her figure back after dropping an incredible FIVE dress sizes.
But after the birth of her son George, now two, she was more determined than ever to lose the weight and finally she has slimmed down from a size 22 to a size 10 to 12. She slimmed down from 17 stone 4lbs and has lost an impressive five stone 11 pounds, and now weighs in a healthy 11 stone nine pounds.
She said: "My weight has always been an issue and as much as it upsets me to admit it I was obese as a child and was easily a size 22 in clothes. As a result, I have always had a difficult relationship with food. I have lost weight a number of times, but never before have I been able to maintain the weight loss.
"I have always been a bit of a comfort eater and turn to junk like chocolate and biscuits when I felt bad and while my mum was always brilliant cooking healthy meals, I didn’t feel good about myself and would turn to food. It was a vicious circle."
A self-confessed "sweet tooth" Claire first joined Slimming World in the run-up to her wedding but after her husband became ill she stopped going. She rejoined a second time after putting some of the weight back on, but said her heart wasn’t in it and when she discovered she was pregnant she gave up again - a decision she called her "biggest regret."
She said: "I knew I was overweight when I became pregnant, but was so disappointed to have a BMI [body mass index] of over 30 when I had my first midwife appointment. Everyone told me not to worry as I was pregnant, so I pushed it to the back of my mind. I then went on to put on more than three stone while pregnant and struggled to lose any on my own once my baby boy was born.
"I carried on wearing my maternity clothes long after George’s arrival and only stopped wearing them because I bought new clothes and was horrified to discover I had crept up to a size 22 and back to my heaviest weight from when I was younger.
"All new mums are tired, but I really felt like I didn’t have any energy and I knew deep down that my weight was contributing to that."
Finally, when George turned eight months old, Claire decided "enough was enough" and joined Slimming World again, hoping it would be a case of third time lucky - and it certainly was./
She said: "Having George really changed things for me; I didn’t want him to be embarrassed of me and I wanted to be healthy and always around for him.
"At the time of joining the group in April 2016 I was 17 stone four and a half and wearing size 22 clothes. I knew deep down I needed support from other people to be successful."
As well as becoming a member of Slimming World once again, Claire started to showcase her journey on social media site Instagram and soon found she was swapping chips for jacket potatoes.
She said: "I definitely had to work at it but after going away to Cornwall my mindset completely changed and I was more determined than ever.
"It has changed the way I look at food and now when I go out to a restaurant I will always trade chips for jacket potatoes, not just because they are healthier but because I don’t want chips any more.
"I still love desserts but they are not my downfall any more. I make my own now and currently have a mud pie cheesecake in my fridge; I have a small portion everyday which feeds my craving, makes sure I am not missing out and allows me to stick to the plan."
After joining the Horninglow Slimming World class Claire was delighted with the results, which she said has "completely changed her life."
She said: "I have lost five stone 11 pounds in just over 11 months and I have kept that weight off, remaining in my target range at every weigh in, for seven months.
"I am now a size 10 to 12, and even bought some tops in a size 8 recently, which is something I honestly never thought I would be able to do.
"I never thought I could do it and while I always had a dream target I never shared it with anyone because I didn’t believe it was achievable. It was a few months in when I actually thought I might do this and it spurred me on.
"It has not been easy but it has changed my life in so many ways. I have always tried to be active, especially for George but it is the little things that I can do now which I couldn’t do before. I was always very embarrassed about the way I looked but I can fit down the slide now and I can run so much quicker than I ever could before. I also used to suffer with a bad knee when running, but not any more thanks to less pressure on my joints from my weight.
"We can regularly be found at the park or soft play, and I am there with him climbing up to the top and going down the slides without a second’s thought.
"I feel loads happier within myself and I love going shopping now which I avoided before. My friends and family are all proud of me and it has not been easy, but it has changed my life."
Claire said that walking through the doors of the Slimming World group was "the best thing she ever did" and her dreams of a happier, healthier lifestyle have finally come true.
She said: "I took George with me to begin with, but now take the time out for myself each week to go to the group and leave him at home with his daddy. Staying in the group has been the key to my success and without the support of my consultant, Sammy, and the rest of my group I wouldn’t have found the motivation to keep going even when it felt really tough.
"I plan all meals now which is also helpful when it comes to food shopping and it easily fits around family life, with my husband and son also enjoying home-cooked Slimming World meals.
"Nothing is off limits thanks to food optimising, and I still enjoy meals out and my favourite chocolate as often as I want to. But I have also done some great swaps for healthier versions of both my favourites and essentials, and these have now just become the "norm" for us.
"Ultimately I want to be the best mum I can be, one who is happy, healthy and a good role model. I really feel that I have become that person and it is thanks to Slimming World that my dreams have come true."
So what does a normal day of meals look like for Claire?
A typical breakfast includes yoghurt, fruit and granola and will be followed by a lunch such as home-made pasta Bolognese.
Then in the evening Claire will tuck in to Cajun chicken with sweet potato wedges, mushrooms, peppers and onions.
Slimming World recipe - Spaghetti Bolognese
Lean mince, flavoursome vegetables and filling pasta
- Serves: 4
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 20-25 minutes
- Ready in: 30-60 Minutes
- Syns per serving: FREE
- Low calorie cooking spray
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 350g lean beef mince (5% fat or less)
- 225g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 280ml beef stock
- 1 level tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 275g spaghetti, dried
- Spray a pan with low calorie cooking spray and cook the shallots and garlic for 2–3 minutes until just softened. Stir in the mince and cook for 2–3 minutes until browned.
- Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season lightly and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced and thickened. Check the seasoning.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water, as per the packet instructions, until just tender. Drain and divide between 4 serving plates. Top with the Bolognese sauce and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if you fancy (1½ Syns per level tbsp).
Tip: You can freeze the sauce before you add the spaghetti.