Curvy Clare had given up all hope of ever being slim, until an embarrassing holiday snap forced her to make a massive change ... By Clare Woodall, 37

As I stare at the infamous holiday snap, I try not to cringe but fail. Even though I no longer resemble the woman in the picture, I can’t help but blush as my gaze falls over my lumps and bumps bulging out of that blue swimming costume. When most people think of their holidays, they think of sun, sea and sand, but when I think of Marbella, the unforgettable image appears in my mind, an image so shocking that I decided to change my ways. 

I never used to be fat. I didn’t have any problems with my weight, until I fell pregnant with my daughter, Caitlyn and I saw it as an opportunity to give in to my every craving. Nevermind eating for two, I was eating for everyone! I was so big by the time I gave birth that I joined a slimming group as soon as I could and lost five stone.

But then I fell pregnant with my second child Leon, now 11, and piled it all back on again - and more. Even after Leon had arrived, I continued my unhealthy eating habits. I wouldn’t eat all day, then at the end of the evening I’d devour pie and chips, followed by a whole tube of Pringles and a large bar of chocolate. Not one vegetable passed my lips unless it was swimming in a greasy curry.

When I met my current partner Darren in 2010, I ballooned. If we weren’t eating out, we were curled up on the sofa with a takeaway. I knew I was tubby but I tried not to let it bother me.

‘Do you think I need to do something about my weight?’ I asked Darren one night as I peeled off my size 24 leggings in front of our bedroom mirror.

‘I think you’re beautiful,’ Darren said, barely managing to wrap his arms around my colossal waist. I knew he was being kind but I also knew he was telling the truth. Darren loved me for who I was, not what size I was.

So when we hired out a villa for a holiday in Marbella I tried not to worry about Darren seeing me wobbling around the beach with barely nothing on. However, desperate to cover my hulking frame, I packed a suitcase full of huge swimming costumes and sarongs. There was no way I’d be seen dead in a bikini.

But my problems began before I’d even set foot on the sand.

‘I can’t get the seat belt to fasten,’ I whispered, after squeezing myself into the airplane seat.

‘You’ll need to tell the air hostess,’ replied Darren. ‘They’ll get you an extra large one.’

I shot him a look. He was right but it was the last thing I wanted to hear. I was so ashamed.

‘Here’s your extension belt!’ shouted the air hostess once I’d been forced to reveal my embarrassing situation.

I tried to slide down my seat so no one could see me but there was no room. I’d never felt so fat and disgusting.

I tried to put the incident behind me and lying by the pool in the warm sunshine certainly helped.

In fact I’d forgotten all about it by the time Darren got me to pose by the pool for pictures in a large, tight blue swimming cossie.

‘Say cheese for the camera,’ he joked. I flashed him a giant smile. I was too busy having fun to be thinking about my figure. I didn’t care that I wasn’t a size six stick insect.

But when I got home and saw the snap, I nearly snapped. I looked like a baby blue whale! If I had been swimming in the sea, I might have been harpooned.

Horrified, I forced myself to step on the scales for the first time in years. When the needle hovered over 19st 8lbs, I stared at it in disbelief. It was the jolt I needed. I vowed to act and after two years of yo-yo dieting, I joined a slimming group in 2014.

With the guidance of a consultant, I finally started eating three healthy meals every day, each dish loaded with fresh vegetables or fruit. Gone were the days of starving myself during the day and gorging myself silly at night. I’d let myself get so big that the weight dropped off in huge chunks to begin with and with every half stone I lost, I felt my energy levels soar. I was able to exercise and even got myself a job as a dinner lady in a school. I hadn’t realised how much being overweight had destroyed my confidence. Now I had it in buckets.

Just over a year later, I had dropped 10st 2lbs and weighed 9st 5lbs. I’d completely transformed myself. As a reward, we booked a holiday to Majorca in 2015. For the first time in years, I had a whale of a time shopping for little summer outfits as well as a dreaded bikini.

Once we’d boarded the plane, I securely fastened my seat belt. I couldn’t help but laugh when I thought of my previous flight.

‘I can even get the tray down completely,’ I joked to Darren, as I lifted the tray up-and-down, expecting it to rest on top of my belly like it used to.

When we arrived at our hotel, I took a deep breath and changed into my size eight bikini before we set off for the beach. It was the moment I had been waiting for.

I was in my element, lying on my sun lounger catching some rays when Darren suddenly turned to me.

‘You look incredible,’ he said. Even though I knew Darren would love me no matter what I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride at how much I had achieved. I’d had such a mountain to climb before I started and now I was finally at my goal.

‘I couldn’t have done it without you,’ I replied. Darren, as always, had been my rock and had never put pressure on me to slim. I’d done this solely for myself.

I spent the rest of my holiday flaunting my fab new figure. After finally getting my act together, I no longer resemble a beached whale - I am a beach babe.

When Clare lost a staggering 10 stone she wanted to flaunt her slimming success and so our writers, placed her story in a glossy women's magazine. If you've lost weight and are keen to see your journey in print, why not give us a call on 0117 973 3730 to find out how it works.


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