'I lost 8 stone and found love' - Laura (31) said transformation boosted her confidence on dating app
A childcare worker said the idea of spending her 30th birthday overweight and single was the motivation she needed to kick-start her weight loss journey.
Laura Jervis (31) has lost more than 8st (50kg) since January 2015 and said she was motivated to tackle her weight ahead of the significant birthday celebration.
The Belfast woman's health transformation also brought her on the path to love, finally giving her the confidence to try online dating.
"I was really aware that I was turning 30 and I didn't have a boyfriend. I had had relationships but at that time I really didn't have anyone in my life and of course you do want that.
"I had been on dating sites before but I would usually just chat to people but always make an excuse not to go on a date. I just didn't have the confidence. I was afraid I would go and they wouldn't like me," she said.
At her heaviest, Laura weighed 18 stone (114kg) and a health scare also gave her the motivation to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
"Food was a comfort to me and the worse I felt about myself the more I ate and the bigger I became," she said.
"I was always the biggest one in my group of friends and I was always a bit down about my weight, I just never let on.
"I was also having really bad pains in my stomach which ended up being gallstones. At this point I weighed more than 18st and my doctors advised me that I'd have to lose weight before I could have the operation. That health scare frightened me."
In just over a year, Laura shed more than 8 stone (50kg) on the Slimming World programme and said she finally found the confidence to try online dating properly.
The Belfast woman began talking to her boyfriend Matthew Baird on dating app Plenty of Fish, and the couple have recently celebrated their first anniversary.
"When my 30th birthday did come around I was delighted. I was down five stone and I felt amazing. All of my friends were delighted for me and I was proud of myself too.
"After I lost the weight I decided to go for it and I met my boyfriend Matthew on Plenty of Fish. We've been seeing each other for over a year now.
"I was so nervous going on our first date, but it was actually lovely. We went for dinner and ice-skating," she said.
Offering advice to anyone who is struggling with their weight, Laura said the first step is the most difficult.
"It's always scary to go into that meeting for the first time and to stand on the scales but you have to remember everyone there is in the same position. You just have to get into that mindset and never give up," she said.