A secret binge eater who would gorge on fatty food while living in complete denial about her spiralling weight has achieved an incredible transformation after years of holiday embarassment.
Bernice Casserly used to hide her body in huge maxi dresses while enviously watching other girls her age parading round the pool in tiny bikinis, feeling happy and confident.
But when her beloved sister asked her to be bridesmaid at her wedding she was determined to look good for the big day – and put her past wedding-day demons behind her.
The 29-year old said: “I was a big secret binge eater and spent years in complete denial about my weight issues.
“I finally had enough after being on holiday last year where I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious.
“I spent that holiday hiding behind giant maxi dresses whilst girls my own age walked around in little bikinis feeling happy and confident – that wasn’t me.
“I was unhappy and always had been, but never had the courage to do something about it.
“I also found out that my beautiful younger sister was getting married and it instantly brought back memories of feeling self-conscious when I was bridesmaid for my best friend a few years earlier.
“I didn’t want to feel like that this time.”
Bernice, from Lincolnshire, struggled with her weight since her school days and would binge eat in secret.
Bernice joined Slimming World in July 2018 and in just over a year has shed six stone, dropping an impressive five dress sizes in the process.
And she says she’s never been happier – and has found her dream job.
She said: “Like a lot of slimmers, I had tried to lose weight so many times before by following numerous diets but they were never sustainable because I’d always get tired of restricting what I ate.
“I thought I was destined to struggle with my weight for the rest of my life, but when I came to Slimming World it was different. I never felt like I was on a diet.
“The eating plan encourages you to eat lots of tasty, filling foods like pasta, rice, potatoes and lean meat and fish.
“You are never hungry and no foods are banned so there’s no deprivation.
“I couldn’t believe I’d found a way to lose weight without starving myself.”
Bernice says it isn’t just about the food you put in your mouth.
She also sees a personal trainer once a week and regularly enjoys power lifting challenges.
She said: “Slimming World isn’t just about changing what you eat. Becoming more active is important too.
“Our Body Magic programme takes the threat out of activity by showing people, many of whom have unpleasant memories of being forced to take part in activity at school, how they can build activity into their daily routine without having to take up traditional forms of exercise like going to the gym or running.
“Everything counts from walking to gardening to washing the car.”
Bernice is now turning her attention to helping others change their lives for the better and has successfully completed the required training to become a consultant and run her own session in Lincoln.
She said: “Support is really the most important thing. It all starts with feeling that you’re not alone.
“I couldn’t have lost six stone without the weekly help, encouragement and understanding of my own consultant and group.
“As someone who has lost weight myself I know the challenges people can face, which is why, along with the group, I will be there to support every one of my members all the way to their chosen target weight.
“Setting targets, sharing recipes and other ideas, and working together as a group to overcome challenges and celebrate success is so important to a successful journey.
“That’s why at my Slimming World group, there’ll be tons of support, encouragement and fun.”
Katie Cowie, who runs Slimming World’s Wednesday Brant Road group and manages Bernice as a team developer, says: “Slimming World consultants are chosen for their positive outlook and because they genuinely care about the health and happiness of others.
“With Bernice’s experience of being a successful Slimming World member and her kind and warm personality and great sense of humour I just know that she’ll be an amazing support to members, cheering them all the way to their target weight.”