In the past, I had abused diets as much as I’d abused food. I had starved the weight off to the point of losing my hair and developing blurred vision.

This time, I would set small goals, so that when I reached them it would give me the confidence to continue. I learned to prepare and enjoy low-fat, healthy food. I also developed a new way to talk to myself about food. When food “called out to me,” instead of saying, “Go ahead, girl, eat. Who’s going to know?” the new Teresa was firm. No! I will not eat in private anymore. I will eat when I choose, not when food dictates. How wonderful it felt when I made it through another day without cheating.

Toughest of all, I had to concentrate on the positives in my life. I had always been so good at encouraging others; now I realised the person who needed me most was me. I made myself wear make-up because it made me feel prouder of myself. Somedays that was just the little push I needed to get me through. As the weight came off and I got smaller, my confidence in myself grew and grew.

I remember the first time I went to the regular, not plus size, section of the local store. I cried as I looked around at all the racks of clothes I knew I could wear. I grabbed 20 outfits and went to the dressing room. The attendant raised her eyebrows, saying, “All of these?” I smiled broadly. “All of these,” I answered proudly. Zipping up a pair of jeans, I felt a wonderful sense of freedom. I’m going to make it, I thought. —