Summer was a real pain for Laura Spence – and last Christmas was even worse.
While her friends were tucking into the tasty food laid on at barbecues during the warmer months, Laura was sipping weight-loss shakes.
And that was partly because she'd watched all her work mates slip into their figure-hugging party dresses last December.
As she pulled on the biggest outfit she could find, she knew something had to change. Comfort eating had seen her weight balloon to more than 18 stone and left her deeply unhappy.
'I remember going shopping last Christmas and I hated it,' she says.
'I always wore black and I bought this huge dress that was calf length and right up to the neck. I went to the Christmas do and all the girls were in pretty dresses. It wasn't nice.'
Laura had tried dieting before but hadn't got very far. Her diet consisted of big portions, takeaways and too much ready-made food, instead of healthy fresh fruit or vegetables.
When she saw a friend at work had lost weight with the Cambridge Weight Plan, Laura, from Havant, decided to give it a go.
Special shakes and soups replaced food and Laura lost 15 pounds in just one week. It was hard but she found the results satisfying and stuck with it.
That was back in August and she's now lost six stone, taking her down from size 28 clothes to a svelte size 10/12.
'It's the most amazing feeling, I really feel like I'm 24 now,' she says.
'When I was bigger, I couldn't dress like someone my age. I had to dress older but now I can wear a little black dress and look 24.'
She adds: 'It was hard when all my friends were going out clubbing and I was on three shakes a day and five litres of water. During the summer there was 20 or 30 barbecues and I'd be drinking my shake and everybody else would be eating the buffet food.
'It was difficult but it's what I wanted to do.'
Cambridge consultant Lyn Massey was so impressed with Laura's efforts that she nominated her for the group's slimmer of the year award. Laura was given an inspiration award because of how well she'd done and the example she'd set other young women like her.
'We're in an age where children are getting bigger, a society where everybody is getting bigger,' says Laura.
'For someone my age to reverse the cycle now is great.'
Food has gradually been re-introduced and Laura is now careful about what she eats. White pasta and bread have been ditched and meals are protein-based with lots of vegetables.
This Christmas Laura's excited about getting dressed up in something tight and clingy for her work party. She adds: 'I didn't work this hard to put all the weight back on. I'm now what I want to be.'