Kate Najem knew her eating habits had spiralled out of control but it took a serious health scare to shock her into action.
The 32-year-old says her marriage breakdown and the death of her dad both caused her to pile on weight.
Reaching for a takeaway menu was easier than cooking something healthy and before long, she was drinking three or four glasses of wine a night, with no thought about the amount of calories she was consuming.
But when the single mum began to experience excruciating stomach pains she knew something wasn’t right.
Doctors at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital diagnosed her with gall stones in 2007 and Kate, from North End, was staggered to learn what had triggered the condition.
‘It was down to the fact that I was fat,’ she explains.
‘I hadn’t even hit 30 and I was hospitalised through my own doing, through not looking after myself and eating the wrong food. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to live my life feeling like I was unhealthy.’
Kate had an operation to remove her gall bladder and was put on medication.
Overweight since she was a child, she admits she’d tried every diet going to try and control her eating habits in the past. But it took her a while – and an unflattering photo – to find the solution to her problem.
‘I was twice the size I thought I was. I was a size 18/20, kidding myself I was a size 16. I knew I’d got to do something to change and joined Slimming World on January 4.’
In just under a year, Kate has shed almost three-and-a-half stones and is now a trim size 14.
She cooks meals from scratch, exercises a lot more and is passing on healthy habits to her eight-year-old daughter, Yessmina.
But the biggest transformation has been that she’s finally come off the medication needed following the removal of her gall bladder.
‘I’ve learnt what I can eat that’s going to fill me up for a long amount of time,’ says Kate.
She’s determined to lose another stone but will start 2013 running her own Slimming World group to help others achieve their own weight loss goals. From Tuesday, January 1, Kate will lead the 7.30pm group at Lyndhurst Junior School in North End.
‘I want to help other people like I’ve been helped,’ she says.