Caroline Willey, Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs franchise

Despite being plump as a teenager, I had, until the age of 34, maintained a good weight for most of my adult life. I had been active in my work, nursing in the NHS, and played sports, including squash, running and going to the gym. I also had a passion for rock’n’roll dancing which is very energetic.

However, in 1996, I became pregnant with my first child and with this came a change to my lifestyle and a reduction in activity. Before my son was born I had gained about 4st and went from 8st 12lb to about 13st. At just 5? 3″, this was quite a weight to bear.

After the birth, I was determined to lose weight and did all the right things -walking everywhere with the pram, breastfeeding for England, and endlessly steaming and stewing fresh vegetables and fruit when we got to the weaning stage. A year later I was ready to return to work but I had still only lost about 1? st, so I joined a Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness class and got down to about 10st, when I became pregnant for the second time.

This time, I developed symphis pubis, which is a painful condition affecting your pelvis due to the hormone relaxin produced during pregnancy. Some days it was all I could do to slowly hobble about and I put on 3st almost overnight.

My daughter was born in August 2000 but by January 2006 I still weighed in at over 12st, so I decided to return to the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness class and by July 2006 I had got down to 10st.

On going back to work full time I found it difficult to balance work, family and attend the classes and so something had to give. I gave up going to the classes but I missed them, and the extra exercise I had got used to by walking or cycling the 4 miles to and from the class. I also missed having a day at home on my own without the children around.

I decided that my life had to change and at the same time became more aware of the opportunities of running a franchise and contacted the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness organisation to find out more about becoming a franchisee. After having worked in the NHS for 27 years it was a huge change for me, but I made up my mind straight away. I started trading in September 2007 and have never looked back.

My weight is now steady at about 9st 10lb. I have also become a lot fitter and continue to eat healthily. Being a franchisee is a fulltime occupation, but the hours are suitable to family life and the administration can be done at a time to suit myself.

I love being able to take the children to school every day and collect them every evening. They now have more flexibility and can bring their friends home after school and have their evening meal at a sensible time, in a more relaxed fashion than they previously could. My partner, Rod, takes over in the evenings when I go out to teach classes and his support is absolutely essential.

It has been a big change for all of us and the benefits for me as an individual and as a mother are enormous. Not only am I more available for my family, I am doing something I love which is of great help to many women and men. I am also able to look after my own health and be a great role model for my children.