A mum who was once too breathless to read her daughter a bedtime story after chasing her up the stairs has lost nearly half her body weight.
Just 18 months ago Hollie Barrett from Suffolk, tipped the scales at 17st 11lbs and wore a size 20.
The 30-year-old lived with her partner Thomas and their two kids Ethan, 11 and Imogen, 4.
The mum had been overweight for most of her life and had often turned to food for comfort after losing her mum to breast cancer in 2013.
Hollie’s daily diet consisted of high calorie takeaways, including chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork balls and chips.
And in between meals, she’d snack on ice creams, chocolate bars and cookies.
But she began to feel her weight was holding her back in her role as a mum.
Hollie, who works at a staff restaurant at a supermarket, said: “I felt like my weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life, especially when it came to doing things with my children.
“Even things other mums might take for granted, like taking them swimming, seemed off limits because I felt so self-conscious.
“I once chased Imogen up the stairs to bed and was so breathless I couldn’t speak properly to read her a book – it broke my heart.”
But in May 2015, Hollie saw a friend posting about her success with dieting organisation.
Inspired by her pal, Hollie bravely decided to join the local group with her sister Sarah.
She said: “After we lost mum I started to really think about my health and my future.
“I wanted to be around for my kids and to be able to do all the normal things that mums do while they were still young.
“I didn’t want them to be bullied at school because their mum was so overweight either.”
Fortunately, within minutes of walking into the Beccles Slimming World group, Hollie knew she’d found the right place for her.
Hollie said: “I was so nervous walking through those doors and was worried I’d be the biggest person there.
“I instantly knew there was no need to be scared though and that the people in the group really understood and cared.”
Motivated by her desire to be a fitter mum, Hollie lost a staggering 9½lbs in her first week.
But while Hollie enjoyed watching the pounds drop off, it was far from an easy task.
Hollie said: “We’ve had two consultants running the group in the time I’ve been a Slimming World member and they have both been incredible.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble and they always believed in me – even when I was struggling to believe in myself.
“During my first few months I didn’t want to know how much I weighed so we covered the scales and whenever I was having a difficult week they’d get ideas from the group on how to help me get through it and keep me motivated and they’d send little cards between weekly group sessions so I knew I wasn’t struggling on my own.”
After years of following strict fad diets, Hollie was relieved that she didn’t have to starve herself to lose weight.
She was relieved that she could still eat pasta, rice, potatoes and lean meat whilst on the Slimming World Food Optimising plan.
Hollie has now lost 8st 6lbs, nearly half her body weight and wears a svelte size 8.
“Now I finally feel like the person – and the mum – I was meant to be all along.”
“My partner Thomas is a great cook and we all enjoy the same healthy meals as a family now. Salmon and wild rice and BBQ pulled pork are a couple of our favourites and we still eat out regularly as well, because the really great thing about Slimming World is that it fits around my life rather than me having to fit my life around it.
“We’re also a more active family – we love going on long walks and enjoy more active holidays, I walked 40 miles in four days and climbed a mountain when we went away recently.
“I’ve started jogging and even had the confidence to put on a swimsuit and take my children swimming for the first time since losing weight, which was an amazing experience. Thomas loves my new figure and new-found confidence too!”
Now weighing just just 9st 5lbs, Hollie has been named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2016.
Hollie said: “I remember when I first joined Slimming World and was setting my target weight, I told my Consultant that I was ‘never going to be one of those girls who’s a size 8’.
“Without missing a beat, she said ‘Why not, if that’s what you want you can totally do it!’ And I did! Every time I put on a size 8 I feel so proud of myself – I recently completed Race for Life in memory of my mum and I think she’d be pretty proud of me too.”
Breakfast: Nothing to eat. 2 or 3 milky coffees with sugar;
Lunch: Sometimes nothing. Or thick-sliced white toast with butter and jam, followed by a big slice of cake and high-calorie takeaway coffee topped with cream;
Dinner: Takeaway, such as chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork balls, chips and spring rolls;
Snacks: Chocolate bars, cookies and ice cream.
Breakfast: Overnight oats – porridge oats layered with lots of frozen berries and fat-free Greek-style natural yogurt, followed by a white coffee made with skimmed milk and sweetener;
Lunch: Baked sweet potato with sliced cold meats and salad, followed by fresh fruit;
Dinner: Homemade burger (made with lean minced beef), topped with pulled pork, homemade BBQ sauce and Cheddar cheese, with Slimming World-style chips (baked in the oven in low-calorie cooking spray) and vegetables. A sugar-free jelly.
Snacks: Picked onions and gherkins, carrot and cucumber sticks with homemade hummus, Cadbury’s Highlights Hot Chocolate, a chocolate bar, and sugar-free lemon squash or sparkling water to drink.