AFTER ballooning to a staggering 19 stone, Emma Aplin decided she desperately needed to do something about her weight.
The care manager, 32, from Burgess Hill in West Sussex, had spent her whole life gorging on chips and crisps and felt miserable when she looked in the mirror.
Determined to make a change, a colleague convinced Emma to sign up to Slimming World and she has since lost nearly half her body weight in just 18 months.
And Emma, who feels happier than she ever has in her trim 11 stone figure, is now urging others to follow in her footsteps and join Slimming World.
She said: "Even if you have tried other diets and failed, you will find Slimming World is achievable and enjoyable.
"You wont even realise you are on a plan."
Emma admits she struggled with her weight ever since she was a child and was constantly bingeing on junk food.
She said: "I had been overweight since my late childhood. I had a big appetite and, throughout my teens, the weight piled on.
"In secondary school I was a size 14, when all my friends still wore clothes sized by their age.
"I knew I was bigger than everyone else – it was obvious to see – but, instead of acknowledging it, I kept eating junk.
"My parents always served up decent, home-cooked meals and neither of them struggled with their weight.
"The problem was when I was out.
"I spent my lunch money on chips and crisps and always went to the corner shop on my way home from school to pick up chocolate bars and sweets before eating dinner.
"I didn't play any sports and was quite lazy.
"So, by the time I left secondary school, I was a size 18."
On my 23rd birthday, I wore a size 24 dress. I was in denial. I used to buy loose-fitting clothes in a size 18 and convince myself I was slimmer
Emma continued to balloon after she got a job straight from school – as she couldn't avoid the office vending machine or local shops.
She added: "I started a job straight from school and that just made things even worse. I sat at a desk for most of the day and had a vending machine a few steps away.
"I'd skip breakfast then spend all morning snacking on crisps and crackers.
"At lunchtime, I'd buy meal deals or pasties from the locals shops.
"I'm a big foodie and I loved making home comforts for dinner. However, my portions were always huge and I used a lot of ready-made sauces.
"On my 23rd birthday, I wore a size 24 dress. I was in denial. I used to buy loose-fitting clothes in a size 18 and convince myself I was slimmer.
"But if I ever had to wear jeans, I couldn't squeeze into anything smaller than a size 24."
Emma was so insecure with her figure she also desperately made sure friends never got her belly in their pictures.
Lunch: Meal deal of sandwich, crisps, chocolate and a fizzy drink
Dinner: Big portion of spag bol using ready-made sauce
Breakfast: Overnight oats with fruit and yoghurt
Lunch: Salad with cous cous and chicken
Dinner: Spag bol using homemade sauce
"I never let anyone take full-length pictures of me and only posted cleverly taken selfies so no one – myself included – could see my figure," she said.
"I started to feel low, as I knew deep down that I was unhealthy and unhappy."
After realising her weight was taking a toll on all aspects of her life, a colleague convinced Emma to go along to a Slimming World group with her in October 2016.
And Emma said she was shocked that the Slimming World plan didn't seem like a normal diet, and she didn't have to cut out her favourite foods.
She said: "I remember looking at the meals on the plan and thinking: "I love this food!"
"Everything on the plan was recognisable, it was just made in a much healthier way.
"In the first week, I lost half a stone. I couldn't believe how easily it fell off.
"If I cooked a spag bol, I'd use five per cent fat mince, use low-calorie cooking spray instead of olive oil and fill it out with much more veg.
I never felt like I was missing out. In 18 months, I lost more than eight stone and never once felt hungry
"I ditched my daily cakes and biscuits and enjoyed a few treats instead – but was more than satisfied.
"I always loved dessert after dinner. On the plan, I could still have that, so I never felt like I was missing out.
"In 18 months, I lost more than eight stone and never once felt hungry.
"I filled up on "Free Food" such as eggs, lean meat and rice and never had to weigh or measure my food obsessively. Plus, I could still eat pasta!"
Emma says friends are left stunned by her eight stone weight loss – and even find her unrecognisable.
She added: "Last year, I bumped into an old friend in the pub and she turned away from me.
"I had to approach her again and tell her who I was because I looked so different.
"It has completely changed my outlook on life and I honestly believe anyone can do this.
"Even if you have tried other diets and failed, Slimming World is so achievable and enjoyable. You wont even realise you are on a plan.
"I still socialised with friends throughout the plan and lots of my friends have now joined Slimming World after seeing my success.
"I love my new slimmer body. I finally feel like the happy, confident woman I was."
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