A woman has shared the simple diet trick that contributed to her incredible 5st (32kg) weight loss.
Kerstin Stewart, 27, a sales assistant from Paignton, Devon, says she started putting on weight when she turned 18, left school and started her first full-time job.
But while she enjoyed her new found adult freedom, driving everywhere, enjoying boozy nights out with her friends and never exercising all had an impact on her body.
Eventually, she saw her weight creep up until she weighed 17st (108kg), wore a dress size 20, and, at 5ft 5in, had a BMI of 39.8 – classifying her as obese.
While Stewart says said she had always been on "the bigger side", it was only when she became an adult that her weight became a problem.
“I used to play netball and rounders at school but once I left, and went into full-time work, I basically became inactive," she explains.
“I started driving, stopped walking anywhere, and started going out at the weekends, and the weight just started piling on.
“I would do the stereotypical drinking all night, then go to the fast-food places and go home.”
Another contributing factor to her weight gain was the meals she ate at home.
“I used to cook with oil and full fat meat or cream, or use jars of sauces which have lots of sugar and salt," she says.
Though her increasing size was constantly on her mind, Stewart says at the time she didn't feel ready to do anything about it.
But that all changed in January 2018.
“I bumped into a friend on Christmas Eve who had lost a lot of weight and told me all about Slimming World," she explains.
“January is a bit of a boring month anyway, so I thought: ‘Let’s give it a go. What’s the worst that can happen?'”
Heading to weekly sessions, Stewart quickly noticed a difference.
“I lost four pounds in my first week and a stone in the first three months," she says.
“It was amazing and gave me that self-belief to know I could do it."
Watch: Eating a big breakfast 'does not help with weight loss'
Making some easy adjustments to her food habits made a huge difference and by January 2020 she had seen her weight drop to 14st (89kg).
“It was more about the way I was cooking than what I was eating,” she explains of the switch up.
“I swapped oil to Frylight, which is a lighter cooking oil alternative, and changed my full-fat meat to lean meat, and cut off the fat.
“Then I swapped jars of sauce for tinned tomatoes and just packed my meals full of vegetables.”
Simple swaps also meant she could still enjoy weekends with her friends.
“I drank spirits instead of cider, and exchanged the fast food with Iceland Slimming World frozen microwave meals," she explains.
“I instantly felt healthier, my mood was better and even my skin improved.”
Stewart says lockdown aided her weight loss further.
“Everything was cancelled, so I was in full control of what I was eating," she explains.
“I never ordered any takeaways and cooked everything myself.”
In December 2020, she also started getting back into exercise, going regularly to her local pool up to three times a week.
“I started swimming with my sister and realised how much I enjoyed it," she says.
The lifestyle changes all helped contribute to Stewart reaching her target weight of 12st (76kg) in June this year.
“I cried when my consultant told me, I couldn’t believe it,” she says
“I had been dreaming about that day for such a long time.
“It’s the proudest thing I have ever done.”
Filled with new confidence, Stewart has also got stuck into new activities.
“I tried paddle-boarding this summer and it was so much fun,” she says.
“I can’t wait to try it again next summer.”
Her body transformation has had an impact on her wellbeing too: “I am so much happier now and I feel like I have become the person I was meant to be.
“Life used to seem so dull and black and white. But now, it's more colourful.
"I feel like I’m more me.”
Stewart hopes that by sharing her weight loss journey she might help to encourage others.
“I have been on the bigger side for as long as I can remember and I never imagined I could be here," she says.
“As cheesy as it sounds, if I can do it, then anyone can do it.”
Stewart's diet before
Breakfast: Toast spread with butter and jam (ranging from two-eight slices)
Lunch: Sandwich with shop-bought sandwich filler, crisps and chocolate biscuit
Dinner: Pasta with a jar of pasta sauce, garlic bread
Snacks: Chocolate, crisps
Drinks: Full sugar fizzy drink and squash, cider
Stewart's diet after
Breakfast: Sausage and egg wrap
Lunch: Jacket potato or pasta with salad or leftovers from dinner the night before
Dinner: Fakeaways: Burger and Slimming World chips, homemade thin-base pizza, curry cooked from scratch or one-pot wonders like Slimming World’s vegetable jambalaya
Snacks: High fibre bars, low fat crisps, low calorie popcorn, ham, lean chicken, boiled eggs, fat free yogurt, sugar free ice lollies
Drinks: Water, sugar free drinks, vodka and slimline tonic
Additional reporting PA Real Life.