Growing up, office worker Charlotte Mears, 27, from Buckinghamshire, was always slender and worked out regularly.
A former gym bunny who ballooned to a size 18 when she became a social butterfly has turned her back on the high life and returned to the treadmill – proudly displaying her five-and-a-half stone weight loss on Instagram.
But, as her social life expanded in her early twenties, so did her waistline as she skipped the gym in favour of restaurant dinners or takeaways with friends.
Hitting 14st 12lb at 24, on her 5ft6in frame this put her Body Mass Index at 33.5 – classified as obese by the NHS, which considers between 18.5 and 24.9 to be healthy.
Fed up with feeling ‘sluggish and uncomfortable,’ Charlotte vowed to change, slimming down to 9st 1lb and now wearing a size eight.
‘I was tired of feeling unhealthy, so I looked up other weight loss stories on Instagram and felt really inspired,’ she said.
Charlotte Mears, 27, from Buckinghamshire has shed five-and-a-half stone since swapping meals out for workouts and healthy eating
At her heaviest, Charlotte – pictured on holiday – weighed 14st 12lb, classed as obese for her 5ft6in frame
‘I know people say you should be happy whatever size you are, but I wasn’t.
‘Now, I feel much better. I’ve got much more energy, and feel like I can always be on the go.’
As a youngster, Charlotte was slim, taking a keen interest in health and fitness.
But once she turned 22, she began going out more.
Charlotte still enjoys going out at the weekends, but still makes sure she has a balances by eating healthily in the week
Charlotte maintains her figure by drinking five litres of water a day and snacking on lots of fruit or smoothies
She continued: ‘I loved going out for Chinese. My favourite was crispy chilli beef or satay chicken.
‘I’d be out for dinner twice a week, then cooking unhealthily, too. I wasn’t exercising and just eating more and more.’
At her heaviest, Charlotte would skip breakfast, then snack throughout the day on biscuits and cakes before tucking into unhealthy dinners like pizza or chips.
Eventually, wearing a size 16-18, her confidence hit an all-time low.
The gym fanatic has rediscovered her passion for fitness and now works out five or six times a week
Charlotte advises others hoping to beat the bulge to take it day by day and not to be disheartened if they slip up
Charlotte Mears aged 22 (with her friend Alice, left) before she gained weight (left). At her heaviest in 2014 (right)
Then around two years ago, inspired by dieters on Instagram, she vowed to change – joining Slimming World and, rather than meeting pals for dinner, enjoying five or six mile walks with them every week.
Next, she completely overhauled her diet, swapping fatty convenience food for fresh ingredients.
Now, she usually eats porridge and fruit for breakfast, chicken and vegetables for lunch and a healthy home-cooked meal like vegetable chilli con carne for dinner.
‘I drink about five litres of water a day, too, and snack on lots of fruit or smoothies,’ she added.
Charlotte Mears when she was heavier in 2014, existing on a diet of ready meals and Chinese food
Charlotte started meeting her friends for walks instead of going out for dinner all the time
Charlotte has also reignited her passion for the gym, working out five nights a week.
Around six months ago, she upped her routine and now does 15 minutes of sprints on the treadmill, 10 to 20 minutes on the stair climber machine and lifts weights.
Since unveiling her transformation on Instagram two years ago, Charlotte has been regularly posting about her new healthy lifestyle – uploading pictures of her freshly-made meals or gym schedule.
Happily, she’s also found love with her office manager boyfriend Craig, 30, who she has been with for nine months.
Charlotte Mears on holiday before losing weight and upping her gym routine
Before she slimmed down, Charlotte felt sluggish and uncomfortable and wasn’t happy with her weight
And she still enjoys meals out at weekends, but makes sure she balances them with eating healthily in the week.
‘Craig is really supportive. He always tells me how well I’ve done. He’s happy that I’m happy,’ she said. ‘I still go out for dinners, but I’m better at reigning it in and getting back on track.’
Charlotte also has good advice for others, hoping to fight their flab.
She said: ‘Just take it day by day, meal by meal, and if you slip up, don’t punish yourself too hard – just try and get back on track.
‘It’s best to start out with something sustainable, and sociable. I did it by walking with my friends as I knew that was something I could realistically keep up.’