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Now I'm a shadow of my former self

PUBLISHED: 12:43 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:31 05 July 2010

JEAN Barber looked at herself in some photographs from a friend's wedding and was horrified by what she saw.

Having struggled to buy an outfit, she realised that, at 19½ stone, she really needed to shed pounds.

JEAN Barber looked at herself in some photographs from a friend's wedding and was horrified by what she saw.

Having struggled to buy an outfit, she realised that, at 19½ stone, she really needed to shed pounds. Then the pounds turned into stones - seven of them.

Having dropped 10 dress sizes, life for 58-year-old Jean, of Breydon Way, Lowestoft, has changed completely.

She now tips the scales at 12st 4lb, more than 100 pounds lighter that before.

Jean spent 18 months on a WeightWatchers diet, which helped her to kick her chocolate addiction and brought alive her penchant for shopping.

She recalled this week: “My friend's daughter was getting married in June 2006 and I couldn't find anything to wear. That really hit it home, especially when I saw the photos.

“I've always been overweight. I've done lots of different diets and none of them seemed to work. My friend said she was going to go to WeightWatchers and I thought I had nothing to lose.

“Right from the start I never said how much I was going to lose. I decided to do it in small sections and gave myself little goals. I said to myself that I was just going to lose two stone before Christmas, but by the time my stepson got married last year I had lost about five stone because I wanted to buy a nice suit to wear. I got so many compliments - and people that hadn't seen me for ages didn't actually recognise me.”

Opting for the core diet meant she had an extensive range of food available to her, which stopped her craving the foods she had loved previously.

“I used to be a chocaholic and I loved biscuits and cakes, but now I've weaned myself off it. For breakfast I'll just have cereal, whereas before I used to have toast and butter, and lunches are salad bits and pieces, yoghurts and pasta instead of sandwiches and crisps. For dinners I still like a roast, but I've just learned to cook them more healthily.”

Since reaching her target weight, Jean has noticed a big change in her life.

“I work in an office upstairs, and before I used to walk up the flight of stairs and just hope I didn't have to go down again. Now, I run up and down there dozens of times a day; two years ago I would have been crawling on my knees!”

She can now cycle to work and admits to having spent a fortune on clothes since discovering the wide variety of shops available to a woman whose dress size is 14, not 24.

Husband Richard said he had seen a huge difference in his wife, too.

“I have always known Jean as being bigger, so I didn't really notice it. But I knew it was affecting her health, and when I would suggest going for walks she wouldn't be able to,” he explained.

“Now we go on walks together. She's also so much more confident in herself.”

Jean still attends classes at the Beaconsfield Club on a Thursday evening and said she wanted to encourage other people who were nervous about dieting to give WeightWatchers a try.

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