Natalie Carter, 40, has always loved the festive season and donned a pair of Christmas-themed size XXL (size 24) pyjamas with her son, Liam, then 10, in December 24th 2020 - posing for a snap.
But the mother-of-three was mortified by her figure when she looked at the picture and it gave her the encouragement she needed to step away from the tins of chocolate and cheese boards in an effort to slim down.
After over-indulging at Christmas, Natalie thought she was eating her way to 'an early grave' so she decided to overhaul her diet and start exercising - she started making varied meal replacements and took up walking 10,000 steps a day.
In nine months she lost eight-and-a-half stone in total going from 20st 2lbs and a size 24 to 11st 10lbs and a slender size 12.
Now this Christmas, Natalie is slipping into a new pair of festive PJs - and happily beaming in a picture alongside her family.
Natalie, a newly appointed 1:1 consultant, from Solihull, Birmingham, said: "Last Christmas was the nail in the coffin for me. I tried desperately to enjoy my time with my family, but I was dying inside.
"I was absolutely mortified by the photo of my son and I in the festive PJs - I looked ginormous. The lockdown didn’t help with my weight issues, and I’d just got heavier and heavier.
“You want to go out at Christmas and wear sparkly clothes and look good, but I couldn’t leave the house. Christmas is a time to make memories, but I didn’t want to remember feeling so low. Now I feel like a new woman - this festive season really is going to be the most wonderful time of the year."
Natalie's self-confidence reached an all-time low in January 2021 so she decided to beat the bulge 'once and for all'.
She had been so self-conscious she felt she couldn't enjoy Christmas and refused to have many photos taken with her family.
Her husband, Jason, 43, a brick layer, managed to sneakily snap one picture of Natalie and her son, Liam, 11, in sweet matching Christmas PJs, but she hated it so much that she couldn’t bring herself to look at it.
“I just knew I couldn’t have another Christmas feeling like that. I was entering the year I’d turn 40, and I’d had enough,” Natalie said.
Natalie ditched her Uber Eats addiction and started the 1:1 diet.
Rather than grazing on junk food all day, she had a set meal plan with healthy meals and meal replacements.
“It was really hard,” Natalie said. "But I wrote down all the reasons why I was unhappy with my weight, and whenever I had a craving for my favorite foods like pizza or chocolate, I would read the list back to myself.”
Natalie’s determination quickly saw results, and she lost two stone in her first month.
Natalie said: “I felt on top of the world. For the first time in a long time, I was in control of food and food was not in control of me. I was losing physical weight, but I was also losing mental fog.”
Natalie found that going for daily walks was enough to help her slim down. She now does around 10,000 steps a day.
“Going for daily walks helped me lose the weight, but it’s also so good for my head,” she said.
After 11 months, Natalie lost an impressive eight-and-a-half stone, and has slimmed down to a size 12.
“It’s literally changed my life,” Natalie said. “I had to completely start again and rebuild my relationship with food. Things got so bad, I even considered weight loss surgery because I was just so unhappy. Last Christmas was the final straw, and I knew I had to make big changes.
“I was addicted to using Uber Eats because I could eat my favourite junk food and not even leave the house. I was having at least five takeaways a week. My eating habits spiralled out of control.
“Now I have around 1,300 calories a day, and my diet is packed with veg and protein. I feel so much better physically and mentally. I can still have treats, but I’m in control now.”
Natalie’s weight loss journey affected her life so much, that she even left her job at Natwest to become a 1:1 weight loss consultant and help other people who also struggle with weight issues.
“It’s become my passion. I want to help others get themselves out of the dark place that I was in and give them the confidence to feel amazing. I can relate to their issues, but if I can do it then anyone can," she said.
With her improved self-confidence and new outlook on life, Natalie can’t wait to make memories with her family this Christmas.
“I'm so excited for Christmas this year. Looking back at last year, I can’t believe how much has changed," she said.
“I want to socialise, get dressed up and celebrate with the people I love. I definitely won’t be shying away from the camera this year, and I can’t wait to have happy memories to look back on.”
Breakfast - chocolate and champagne
Lunch – Christmas dinner – very large portion
Dinner – turkey sandwiches and grazing on chocolate and crisps
Snacks – a whole box Ferrero Rocher
Drinks – Baileys
Breakfast - Protein shake
Lunch - Reasonable size Christmas dinner – mainly roast vegetables, turkey, a few roast potatoes, no pigs in blankets – portion control is key!
Dinner - cooked meat, salad, pickled onions
Snacks - 2 Ferrero Rocher (rather than whole box!)
Drinks – spirit (like gin) with slim tonic