"Half an hour is no length of time. An episode of Coronoration Street or the time it takes to cook your tea. But 30 minutes' exercise a day was all it took for me to go from a size 34 to a size 10 – in just 18 months.
It sounds too good to be true and if you'd have told me, two years ago, that was all it would take, I wouldn't have believed you. But now I want to tell everyone that you can lose weight. And it's not that hard.
I'd always been slender at school – I'd had an early growth spurt and, sprouting to 5ft 6in, I was long and lean. But even though I fitted in looks-wise with my classmates, I was awkward in my early teens, and got panicky in big crowds. It was like I was on the outside looking in.
This was when I turned to food. I didn't even care what I was eating – I barely tasted it. I'd reach for anything to hand.
When I went to college, it only got worse. I was left breathless with fear in the crowded corridors and canteen. It was as if the walls were closing in on me.
By now, I was so big I couldn't walk upstairs and I wouldn't eat in public in case anyone called me greedy or fat.
As my anxiety increased, my confidence plummeted and I left college. I hid at home and the amount I ate soared. I'd skip breakfast and lunch but in the afternoon, I'd start snacking. Sandwiches, crisps, chocolate – anything quick and easy. My dinner would usually be a huge portion of macaroni cheese, accompanied by a slab of bread smothered with butter.
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with agoraphobia – a social anxiety disorder. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders to get a diagnosis but it still didn't help.
On the rare occasions I went out, I'd keep my eyes planted firmly on the ground. I was a size 34 and hated my body. I didn't buy clothes I liked, just ones that fitted over my tummy and I'd wear ballet pumps because I couldn't find socks to fit me. My self-consciousness was crippling.
And it wasn't only my looks my weight was affecting. I'd often get severe pains in my chest or cramps in my legs.
By the time I was 22, the only thing that got me out of the house was a weekly beauty therapy course, held in a local community centre. With just a few members, I loved it.
Despite the embarrassment of having to order plus-size tunics, I followed it up with a similar course. But, to get my official qualifications, I had to return to college and the bustling classrooms left me just as panicked as before, so I quit.
In January 2012 I realised something had to change. I was 29 and what had I done with my life?
So I started going to Weight Watchers. I'd tried it before and managed to lose a couple of stone but within a matter of weeks, I'd put it back on. And more.
This was exactly what happened this time – within two months, I'd dropped from 27st 7lb to 25st 7lb.
One night in March, as I waited for the slimming club to open, I noticed a gym called Curves Shawlands. It was for ladies only and suddenly I felt inspired.
Going inside, I explained to the manager about my social anxiety but she told me I could exercise at the back of the room and leave by the back door. I couldn't believe how supportive she was being.
So at 9am the next morning, I returned in a baggy T-shirt and leggings to do the half-hour circuit. Each minute of exercise seemed to last forever and I was convinced I'd never be able to finish it. But I did. And the next day. And the one after that.
As the weeks went by, it slowly got easier. At first, I was barely able to march on the spot but as the weeks turned into months, I found myself jogging, then running.
And one day I found myself walking out of the front door with everyone else.
'You look completely different,; my neighbours said. ;You hold your head high – and you smile.'
I felt completely different too. I'd been losing just over a stone a month and had been dropping dress sizes rapidly. I'd always dreamed of being a size 18 but, when it came to it, I never achieved that goal. I went straight from a size 22 to a 16! And it wasn't just new clothes I needed – my feet went from a 7.5 to a 5.
By the time I was 30, I was a slim size 14 – but I wasn't willing to stop there. In fact, I wasn't happy until I reached 10st 7lb and was slipping into a size 10.
Since then, I have been named Curvette of the Year and become a coach at Curves.
I even went back to college and am now finishing my beauty therapy qualifications. I still find large crowds intimidating but I can cope with them much better.
By losing weight, I've not only shed the pounds but also my old self. I've never felt better."
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