"Losing weight didn't just change my life – it saved it. Because when my mum was taken to hospital having suffered a heart attack, the doctor bluntly told me that, at 59 it was her weight that had caused it. And that because I weighed more than her, I might not even make it to her age. It was a stark wake-up call.
Before that, I'd always been aware that I was big – the biggest in my class, the biggest of my group of friends – but I'd never dwelled on it. My family was overweight too and I just assumed that was the way we were made. It wasn't because of the chocolate and crisps I'd scoff down every break at school or the second portions I couldn't resist at home, it was just who I was.
So instead of losing weight, I developed ways to deal with the extra pounds. I never sat down on buses as I took up too much room and I never went shopping.
Instead, my mum made trousers for me and bought me XXXL T-shirts. I always arrived everywhere early so I'd never have to rush and get hot and sweaty and I kept myself in denial by avoiding the scales.
I knew I was neglecting my body but I had no idea it was so serious. So when the doctor told me I could die because I was so heavy, it shocked me to my core.
But at that point, I couldn't deal with my weight. My mum passed away two weeks later, in April 2002, and my dad, who'd been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, took a turn for the worse a few months later.
As I returned home to help my sister look after him, I found myself living on takeaways. In the two years I stayed with Dad, I don't think I ate a single piece of fruit or vegetable. At his funeral in October 2004, I was a size 28.
I didn't even think about it until I moved in with a friend in London for my job as a marketing manager in January 2005. She wasn't as big as me but she also wanted to lose weight, so we decided to join a slimming group together.
Facing my fear of the scales seemed to work and I managed to lose nearly seven stone, going from 22st to 15st 7lb. But then I moved to Switzerland with work for a year and all of my good intentions flew out the window.
When I returned, I was devastated I'd let myself go again. I'd worked so hard and now I felt like I was back to where I'd started from.
Trying to be good, I ordered a salad when I met an old colleague for dinner, while she went for a huge plate of pasta with extra parmesan and a glass of wine. So I couldn't believe it when she told she was a Slimming World member.
Thinking that looked like my kind of diet, I gave it a go and joined my local group in June 2010. At my first meeting, I was terrified – and gutted to find out I'd crept back up to 18st 3lb.
That night, I examined the books and recipes carefully. The eating plan seemed really simple and I decided to follow the leader's advice: 'Give it everything.'
I threw away all my junk food and stocked up on fruit and veg. I'd always been scared of cooking but I even braved making their chilli con carne. At the end of my first week, I was already five pounds down. I was delighted – not only was I pleased I'd lost weight, I was also loving what I was eating. As my confidence grew, I started experimenting with their pasta sauces and curries. I lost half a stone in just two weeks. And a stone in my first month.
I had porridge with berries for breakfast rather than grabbing a croissant and latte on my way to work. Lunch was homemade soup or a chicken salad, rather than a sandwich with crisps and chocolate. And I could snack on fruit all day.
Within a year, I'd lost five stone and was getting into a size 14. From then on, I took it slowly but by September 2013, I was 11st 7lb and started my own group.
Losing weight was fantastic for so many reasons – being able to shop where I wanted, finding out how much willpower and determination I actually had and finally feeling involved in my life. But the best thing was being able to help other people lose weight too.
For the first time, I was happy to talk about my weight, how I'd struggled and how I'd finally gained control over my
As time went on, I was so inspired by the success of my members that I ended up dropping even more weight. Now, I'm 10st 2lb and a size 10. I exercise now and have taken part in a 10K run. I'm fitter than ever before, so my chances of having a heart attack have dropped dramatically. I know my mum and dad would be so proud of what I've achieved – and I couldn't be happier."
To find your nearest Slimming World group, visit slimmingworld.com or call 0844 897 8000
For exclusive competitions and amazing prizes visit Reveal's Facebook page NOW!