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A BASINGSTOKE woman who dropped from a dress size 22 to a size 12 in less than a year is now on a quest to help others who are unhappy with their weight to follow in her footsteps.

Natalie Garner, 37, said her confidence was at an all-time low when she first signed up to Slimming World club in Chineham.

Wearing a UK size 22, Natalie said she felt miserable and got out of breath by simply walking.

She said her life has dramatically turned around after losing eight-and-a-half stone following a non-restrictive plan through Slimming World.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Natalie said: “Prior to joining, I was miserable about my weight. I would get out of breath simply by going on a brisk walk. I didn’t enjoy going out with friends and I was always conscious about my size and how I looked. Emotionally, I was drained.

“I felt I was missing out on so much fun with my family because my size prevented me from joining in. My confidence was low, my feet and knees were sore and I was more tired than I should be.”

The mother-of-two said it was just after New Year’s Eve last year when she realised it was time to take action.

Entering the group for the first time, Natalie describes feeling “incredibly nervous”.

“I think most people facing up to being overweight find it hard. It is so hard to be in that situation and those in that situation tend to have low self-confidence. Walking into a room full of strangers and not knowing what to expect is of course terrifying but I really didn’t have anything to worry about.

“I was greeted by a smile at the door, shown to a seat in the new members area and had a cuppa made for me. I was scared for less than 10 seconds, then I just felt relaxed and welcome.

Basingstoke Gazette:

“I was very surprised at how kind and supportive people are, I think sometimes people just get as excited to see how fellows members are getting on as much as themselves.

Within the first week, Natalie saw results. “I lost seven and a half pounds, I couldn’t believe I had lost weight eating ‘normal’ food. I was able to enjoy pasta, rice, lean meats, all our family favourite meals like spaghetti bolognese and cheeseburgers and still lose weight.

“I instantly felt healthier, enjoying lots of fruit and vegetables. The best thing was never feeling hungry or missing out.

“Thoroughout the next 11 months, I was able to enjoy social occasions while still eating proper food. I found Slimming World’s website really helpful.”

Natalie said once she started exercising as well, this only helped her slim down further.

She said: “I started off getting my body magic - Slimming World’s way of describing everyday movements - by simply walking bit further and gradually increasing this, but by the time I was close to my target weight I found I had loads of energy and so I started running.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Basingstoke Gazette:

“I’ve recently completed my first half marathon, which I never believed would be possible. I was never a runner; I didn’t do much exercise before and this is a complete shock to me! I still find it tough, and I’m not very quick but I feel very proud when I finish a run. My son sometimes joins me for a 5k so it’s great to see the positive impact on his health too.’

Now Natalie said she is so thrilled by the results she has achieved she wants to help others.

“I cannot quite believe the change in me, not just physically, from a dress size 22 to a 12, but emotionally, I feel happy and confident,” she said.

“I love going out and being active with my family and friends. My weight has been a struggle my whole life, I know that there are plenty of people out there who feel equally miserable about how they look and feel because they are overweight. Most people, like me, will have tried and failed in the past to do something to lose weight.”

She added: “A lot of people may feel they are a lost cause, or they are beyond help. I was one of those people and so I desperately want to help others like me achieve their goals and feel as amazing as I do’.

Natalie is welcoming new, existing and previous members Monday at 5.30pm and 7.30pm in Oakridge at the ‘Oakridge hall for all’. To find out more, contact 07952023368.