Bullies were the final straw for Lorna Cullen, 35, Pontypridd...
Slumped on the sofa, I tucked into a baguette stuffed with chicken.
Mmmm, comfort food, I thought, polishing off the lot.
Next, I ate crisps, sweets. After, I didn’t feel comforted, though. I felt miserable.
It was March 2015, and my husband Simon, 45, had taken our boys Arran, then 10, and Logan, 4, out for the day.
He was always taking them to the park or swimming. But I’d stay behind, stuffing my face.
A size-20, I was too embarrassed to be seen in public, rarely left the house.
My health was poor, too – I suffered IBS, constant pain. Doctors worried I had fibromyalgia, as I was always so run down and unwell.
I’m failing my kids, I thought. I was in a really dark place. But it was a vicious cycle – the worse I felt, the more I ate.
I’d always liked food. At university, I lived on junk, scoffing mounds of pasta with garlic bread, chips, burgers.
When I married Simon, in 2007, I wore a size-20 dress.
I’d finish off the kids’ dinners, eat takeaways, crisps and sweets. Nothing healthy.
I bought clothes from charity shops, choosing whatever fitted. I hated my reflection, felt uncomfortable, depressed.
I worked at an insurance company and, that month, I met with my manager to discuss my ill health.
After, feeling emotional, I met Simon for coffee at the university where he worked.
‘I’m always here for you,’ he promised.
Then I set off to catch the train home.
Only, on campus, I spotted a group of teenage boys pointing. Laughing. They started following me.
‘Hey, I know where we recognise you from,’ one sniggered. ‘It’s Heather Trott!
An overweight character from BBC soap EastEnders.
My cheeks burned with shame as the lads fell about laughing.I walked quicker, only they sped up, too.
‘Pig,’ another squealed.
I was jogging now, terrified, tears rolling down my cheeks. People were watching, but no-one helped.
I was a sweaty, exhausted, nervous wreck. Panicking, shaking, I called Simon on my mobile.
‘Some boys are chasing me,’ I cried.
Hearing me, the teenagers started to back off, and campus security guards chased them away.
Simon arrived and gave me a cuddle.
‘How dare they?’ he raged.
Sat on the train home, utterly humiliated, my mind drifted to comfort food.
I deserve a treat.
I debated stopping by the sandwich shop for my fave chicken baguette. Maybe some chocolate, too, I thought.
Then, something snapped.
No. I can’t carry on like this. It was now or never.
So right then, I looked up my local Slimming World club. There was a meeting that night.
I’d tried it before but my heart hadn’t been in it. Now, I was determined.
I nervously went to the meeting, and when the scales read 15st 3lb, I felt ashamed.
It was the heaviest I’d been.
But it motivated me, too. I ditched the junk, filled the fridge with fresh foods, and cooked meals as part of the food-optimising plan.
That first week, I lost 4lb. And each week the pounds just melted away.
‘This is so simple,’ I beamed at Simon.
‘And you look amazing,’ he grinned.
Friends and family started to compliment my new figure, too.
Now, two years on, I’ve lost 6st, and last year I won Pontypridd slimmer of the year!
I weigh 9st 3lb, and the first time I wriggled into a pair of size-10 jeans I sobbed with happiness.
Plus, the health benefits are incredible.
My IBS episodes are less frequent, the pain has disappeared. And now I can run around with Arran and Logan. It’s like they have a new mum!
My confidence has soared and I’ve become a Slimming World Consultant.
It’s never OK to bully anyone, and I’ll never forget how those cruel boys made me feel.
But I’m the one laughing now.