A woman from Caversham lost four stone in six months by reading food labels.
Carys Strong, who is featured in the September issue of Zest magazine, dropped from a size 16 to a size 12 after taking a greater interest in what she ate.
She says the weight crept on before she felt pregnant with her first son, Rhys, five years ago but she couldn’t find the motivation to lose weight until the birth of her second son, Evan, in 2010.
Mrs Strong, 34, of Kidmore Road, Caversham Heights said: “Before I had children my husband and I used to eat out quite a lot and have a few glasses of wine at the weekend. When I cooked our portions were big and I wasn’t doing enough exercise.
“At lunch time in the canteen at work I used to have a jacket potato with lots of butter and cheese and creamy coleslaw. I thought I was being healthy but I wasn’t as I was adding unhealthy toppings.”
As her friends started to lose their baby weight, Mrs Strong noticed she was finding it harder to shift the extra pounds and she was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.
“I was given medication which helped but I still didn’t become really slim as I kept making excuses as I knew I wanted another baby at some point,” she said. “Pretty much as soon as Evan had his six week check up, and I was at my heaviest ever, I joined a Rosemary Conley class in Caversham.”
The support from the classes encouraged her to overhaul her diet, and she quickly began to see the results, losing seven pounds in the first week.
“I wanted to steer clear of anything faddy, and needed something the whole family could follow long-term,” she said. “Low-fat seemed like the most sensible option so, for the first time ever, I started reading food labels. If it contained more than five per cent fat, it wasn’t allowed in my trolley.
“I was shocked to see how much fat there was in butter, cheese and coleslaw- foods I’d normally eat without thinking. To stop myself being tempted by treats, I planned my meals for the week in advance, which gave me a real sense of control.”
Mrs Strong, a commercial manager for a marketing agency, says she remembers arguing with her mum about the amount of fat in houmous shortly afterwards as her mother couldn’t believe it contained so many calories.
She also changed the way she cooked, choosing to grill rather than fry, replacing fatty snacks with fruit and using heathier sauces. In the first month of her diet she lost a stone.
She then began to combine healthy eating with regular exercise, joining a local Zumba class and cycling with her family to drop three dress sizes.
Since losing the weight, Mrs Strong now weighs nine stone, six pounds- the lightest she has been since she was a teenager.
She says her husband David, a telecoms engineer, is equally pleased with the results.
“He’s not the sort of person to make comments but I’m more confident and he’s happy about that,” she said.
Mrs Strong, added: “What truly amazes me is that just through reading food labels and paying attention to what I put into my body, I’ve ended up slimmer than I was before having children. It really proves that having babies doesn’t automatically mean you will lose your figure.”