Mom Loses 124 Pounds After Being Too Winded to Read Her Daughter a Bedtime Story

hollie-barrett
(Photo: Hollie Barrett / Slimming World / PEOPLE)

Hollie Barrett always turned to comfort food during times of trouble. And when her mom was diagnosed with and passed away from cancer in 2013, it was no different.

At her heaviest, the 30-year-old from Suffolk, England weighed 249 pounds. She remembers being embarrassed because she couldn't swim or do other physical activities with her kids. She even recalls feeling heartbroken at one point when she couldn't do a simple task like read her daughter a bedtime story.

"I felt like my weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life, especially when it came to doing things with my children," Barrett told PEOPLE. "I once chased my daughter Imogen up the stairs to bed and was so breathless I couldn't speak properly to read her a bedtime story — it broke my heart."

Her mother's death, as well as feeling like she was being held back because of her weight, encouraged Barrett to get healthy.

"After that, I started to really think about my health and my future," she said. "I wanted to be around for my kids, and to be able to do all the normal things that moms do while they were still young."

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She remembered seeing a Facebook friend's post about Slimming World, a food optimizing plan full of healthy meal and snack recipes you can make right at home, so after many fad diets she tried it out.

"I would jump from fad diet to fad diet, and they were all so strict and hard to follow. When I found Slimming World, I couldn't believe that I didn't have to starve myself to lose weight," she says.

She stuck with Slimming World and is now down 124 pounds — plus, she says she's finally able to do fun activities with her partner, Thomas, and her kids.

"We love going on long walks and enjoy more active holidays," she says. "I walked 40 miles in four days and climbed a mountain when we went away recently. I've started jogging, and even had the confidence to put on a swimsuit and take my children swimming for the first time since losing weight, which was an amazing experience. Thomas loves my new figure and new-found confidence too!"

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"I recently completed a 5k charity run in memory of my mom, and I think she'd be pretty proud of me too," she says. "Now I finally feel like the person — and the mom — I was meant to be all along."

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