Having always believed there was “a skinny girl inside me wanting to get out”, young mum Dawn Herron embarked on a dramatic weight loss journey dropping from a hefty size 22 to the svelte size 10 she is today.
After struggling through her 20s with obesity, Dawn from Comber has entered her 30s as a new woman, barely able to recognise herself in snapshots taken before she shed 5½st.
She says of her new lease of life: “I will never let myself get back into a state where I want to choose to sit on the sofa instead of playing in the garden or running up the stairs to grab a coat to go for a walk.”
It took 16 months with the help of Slimming World for Dawn to transform her figure and her life.
Her weight started to creep up in her late teens and by the age of 19 she weighed 13st. By the age of 23 she had gone up to 14½st. Her weight continued to yo-yo between 15st and 14st and a year after getting married when she was 29 she became pregnant with her daughter, Emily, now aged two.
She said: “Morning sickness dropped me down to 14st at the beginning and I then grew steadily in line with guidelines, eating what I considered to be a healthy diet for nine months, and by the time I was ready to give birth I was just over 16½st.
“After having Emily, I lost the baby weight pretty much immediately and my weight returned naturally to around 14½st once more,” she added.
The turning point came when baby Emily was six-months-old, and Dawn, who works in IT support, decided to buy herself some new clothes. Thinking she was her usual size 18-20, she was horrified to discover that she had ballooned to a size 22.
“I was so upset and on the way home I drove past a sign for a local Slimming World club,” she said.
“I took Emily to my mum’s and drove straight back up to the group and joined that day. That was in August of 2011 and I was age 30, size 22 and after weighing in at registration, discovered I was 15st 4lbs, the heaviest I had ever been in my life.
“It took a lot of determination and willpower to stick to the plan they set out rigidly, but as I have an all-or-nothing type of personality anyhow, I threw myself into the challenge with everything I had.
“I threw out all the obvious rubbish in the house and I bought almost all the recipe books within the first few weeks to make sure I had enough variety and ideas so I wouldn’t get bored or drift back into old ways when I ran out of things to try.
“I cut out bread completely as, while you are allowed a certain amount daily, it was too much of a temptation to stick within these limits for me, so I removed the temptation altogether.
Dawn was encouraged by losing 5½ pounds in the first week and from then on she says she was “totally hooked”.
She added: “I had eaten more food that week than I normally would and I loved everything that I ate, so it was easy to keep going.”
She reached her 5st weight loss target in October 2012, shedding a third of her body weight in just 14 months.
By December she was down 5½st with a healthy BMI.
She said: “I am a very comfortable size 10-12 now and I love being able to walk into a regular shop to buy clothes and not have to resort to online stores that specialise in larger ladies clothing.
“I was overweight throughout all of my twenties so now, in my thirties, I’m going to show off my new figure and enjoy the new confidence I have.”
Now 21 weeks pregnant with her second child, a very happy and healthy Dawn said: “I am so glad I finally sorted myself out.
“I am 100 per cent determined not to let myself go back to old habits and gain the weight back.
“The best thing is that I have more energy than my beautiful, always on the go, two-year-old daughter and I love that feeling.”