A woman revealed how she dropped 18st in her weight loss journey.

At her heaviest, Kelly Barker, 43, tipped the scales at over 28st. Before she kickstarted her journey, the teacher feared she'd die during bariatric surgery.

But since then she's lost almost two-thirds of her bodyweight and now loves kayaking as well as rock climbing. She's also been named Woman of the Year 2023 for Slimming World.

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Kelly, who lives with her 15-year-old son, Josh, in St Helens, felt hypocritical teaching children about health when she was at her heaviest.

Kelly Barker before her weight loss
The mum felt like a hypocrite to her students

She said: "I've always loved my job as a teacher, yet I often felt like a hypocrite – especially when teaching the children about healthy eating and being active.

"My joints and back would be in agony after a day of teaching and although I'd plaster a smile onto my face, I just felt like a fraud.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I've saved my life by losing weight – and these days it's a life worth living."

Kelly confessed her wake-up call to kickstart her health journey came when her GP recommended weight loss surgery. But she couldn't shake the feeling she would die on the operating table.

Kelly Barker after her weight loss
She's been named Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2023

Kelly admits her weight has been something she's struggled with her whole life, and goes back to the days of her childhood. As a child, she was placed on a special diet and had to be weighed.

While other kids ate fish and chips, Kelly would have a separate meal of her own which usually consisted of boiled fish and potatoes.

By the time she hit university, the mum gained even more weight and was left in a "vicious cycle of comfort eating" which continued for years.

After Kelly had been recommended weight loss surgery – she got in touch with her cousin, Fiona, who is a Slimming World Consultant and decided to join in with the programme.

Kelly Barker after her weight loss
The 43-year-old feels so much more confident now

Kelly began cooking from scratch and building healthier habits around food. Now she's feeling more confident and even improved the relationship with her son.

She added: "I no longer feel like I embarrass him, and he tells me he is proud of what I have achieved. He is a county and regional level swimmer so being more in tune with my own activity levels and nutrition has brought us so much closer together."

The mum began to get active herself with the help of Slimming World's physical activity support programme, which helps members create a personal plan to increase their activity levels at their own pace.

When it comes to her nutrition, Kelly used to eat pies, pastries, sandwiches, crisps, takeaway pizza and sugary snacks like biscuits, chocolate and cake.

Now, she makes overnight oats with yogurt and lots of fruit, soups, salads, rice, chips in the air fryer, homemade curries and "smaller" chocolate bars.

Kelly Barker after her weight loss
Kelly dropped 18st during her weight loss

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Before menu:

Breakfast: Something on-the-go like a pastry from the petrol station on the way to work

Lunch: Sandwiches, crisps and cakes from a bakery

Dinner: A takeaway pizza

Snacks: Crisps, chocolate, biscuits, cake, pies

After menu:

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with fat-free natural yogurt and plenty of fruit

Lunch: Homemade soup, pasta salads or a crustless quiche

Dinner: A curry made from scratch with rice or a homemade Slimming World kebab with chips made in the air fryer

Evening: A Slimming World Hi-Fi bar (available in groups, online and in selected Iceland stores), fruit, yogurt or a small chocolate bar

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