After Yasmin Thomas, 35, had her first child in 2017, much of her time was understandably taken up raising her son, Logan.
A year later and Yasmin felt it was time to make a change and do something not only for herself, but to make sure Logan would have a fit and healthy mum to grow up with.
“When I had my son I realised that being a fit and healthy mum was important for his future,” said Yasmin, who teaches dance and drama at Felpham College in Bognor Regis.
“I was extremely unhappy and had a real lack of confidence which, with being a dance teacher, wasn’t easy.
“I’d been pregnant the year before and I thought ‘oh now needs to be the time that I do something for myself’, especially as we planned to have another one soon. So I just went for it.
“I’m feeling amazing, so much healthier and, dare I say it, more proud? I’m proud to take my little boy out and play and I don’t feel so embarrassed or uncomfortable. Now I’m confident playing around the soft play area and on the climbing frame with him.”
Yasmin embarked on her new regime with weight loss group Slimming World in April 2018 and was set a target of getting down to around ten stone, from her then weight of 12.5 stone.
She set to work on a well-planned, but manageable, new eating and cooking regime and by Christmas her weight was into single figures.
Planning and organisation, particularly with a young child and full-time job, were key to maintaining her momentum, she said.
By plotting her meals and using a slow cooker to cook during the day, she avoided the temptation to cook quick, unhealthy meals after she got in from work.
She was instead able to eat healthy, delicious meals and was surprised at the types of food she was still able to eat, with sweet pancakes of a morning making a filling, but healthy, breakfast for her and her husband.
As is the case with most things, the internet and social media loomed large over Yasmin’s quest for a healthier lifestyle.
She said sites such as Instagram were both a gift and a curse. On one hand, it was inspiring to see people on similar journeys sharing their progress, tips and supportive messages.
On the other, filtered images and unrealistic expectations could highlight insecurities and pose unattainable realities.
She pointed to a magazine article that highlighted female celebrities’ worst beach body parts, that listed natural things such as cellulite and ‘mum bums’.
“For young people, that’s particularly dangerous,” she said. “They were just highlighting perfectly normal things but criticising them.
“I still look at myself sometimes and think ‘oh I wish that bit was different’, but it’s just the way my body is made.
“For example, I have bigger thighs, but that’s just a family trait. I am accepting now that I am a healthy weight.”
As a teacher, Yasmin is aware of the impact of unrealistic body images on mental health and is looking to pass on what she has learned to her students.
Slimming World offers a Free2Go support programme, free of charge, to 11-15 year olds. It provides advice on making healthier diet swaps and encourages young adults to enjoy healthy options.
Yasmin will also be relaunching the Slimming World group at the Holy Family Church Hall in Lancing, from Monday, June 24, at 5.30pm every week.