There are many “that’s it” moments when it comes to the trigger to slim down.

For Bridget Jones it was an awkward encounter with Mark Darcy over the turkey curry buffet. For Louise Clarke it was a romantic gesture over a wild pigeon salad.

When her boyfriend took her out for dinner and uttered the words “will youmarry me?”, for the first time in her life Louise felt worthwhile. Her self-esteem boosted, she finally had the determination to become the person she longed to be in the body she longed to have.

Getting to that point had been difficult for Louise, now 30, after suffering bullying at school due to being overweight as a child.

“I had zero self-esteem. I got bigger and bigger as a kid because I hated sports and I didn’t do any physical activity.

I was really artistic so I’d shut myself away indoors. It led to me just putting on more and more weight,” said Louise, whoworks as a photographer.

This negative cycle continued into adulthood.

“The truth is I have always struggledwith my weight, I was always the big girl in thegroup and I had let my size be part of who I was and soon became lazy with my weight loss,” she added.

But when her nowhusband Robert proposed after a whirlwind romance, Louise, who lives in Southend, was finally galvanised into action.

She said: “He took me away for a romantic weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was going to propose in a boat on the river but the forecast was really bad so instead we went to a restaurant and he just blurted it out over the starters!

“It was very emotional, I was crying, hewas crying – the waitress came over looking very worried that something was wrong!”

“When Rob proposed I knew I didn’t want to be a fat bride and I set my goal to lose three stone and be a size 14 by the time of the wedding.”

At the time Louise says she was a size 20, but kidding herself she was smaller.

“I’dwear a size 18, but I was fooling myself because I couldn’t get into the clothes half the time. I was a 20, but didn’t want to admit it. I had become so big but I couldn’t see it until I saw a photograph Robert had taken of me on his phone.

“I didn’t recognise myself.

“I had let my weight creep on and I had become ignorant to howbig I actuallywas. I suffer from polycystic ovaries and had let that become an excuse,” said Louise.

With the wedding as her motivation, Louise walked into her local Weight Watchers meeting in Thorpe Bay. “I was really nervous at first, not sure what to expect, but I needn’t have worried,” she said.

“The group leader was so welcoming and the other members were really supportive too.

“Over the weeks, following the ProPoints plan taught me howmaking small changes can make a big difference – I learnt how to control my portions and make smarter food choices.”

Louise admits to scoffing on a lot of the wrong things and her passion for pizza had led to countless pounds piling on.

“Pizza and chips were my biggest vice. Also, because I travel around a lot, I’d forever be popping into petrol stations and stocking up on chocolate and unhealthy snacks.”

Louise achieved her dream of awearing a size 14 wedding dress. She felt incredible as she walked down the aisle last year as she married Rob at a ceremony at Creeksea Place in Burnham-on-Crouch.

She recalled: “I will never forget that feeling as it was the first time in my life that I felt truly beautiful”.

Following the wedding, Louise went back to Weight Watchers and continued to lose a further two stone, reaching her goal weight and achieving her dream of getting in to a size 12 pair of jeans.

Louise is now using her weight loss success to inspire the community to lead healthier lifestyles by becoming a local Weight Watchers leader. She runs a weekly group meeting in Corringham and is set to open a new meeting on Wednesday at Shoeburyness and ThorpeBayBaptist Church at 10am.

* To find out more about Louise’sWeight Watchers meeting at Shoeburyness and Thorpe BayBaptist Church, call 07736 061604