'I felt old and unattractive, and food became a comfort'
Mary Myers had known she was overweight for long time.
But it wasn't until she looked down at a Christmas photo that she decided something had to be done.
The 62-year-old, from Fenton, who has undergone a heart-bypass operation, was shocked at her appearance - and vowed to embark on a dedicated slimming journey.
She said: "I'd always felt lethargic – I'd had a heart bypass and after that I was always feeling sluggish.
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"I wouldn't do very much at all, it was a struggle to walk so I didn't go out much.
"Of course, when you don't have anything much to do, you just end up eating so I put weight on."
And as she began to put on more weight, food took on a different purpose, becoming a comfort for Mary.
"Past a certain point, it was just comfort eating – I'd feel horrible, old and unattractive and the food was a relief," she said.
"Put simply, I didn't feel like myself at all, and I wanted to do something about it."
Yet after attempting failed diets in the past, Mary didn't know what to do.
But when her 43-year-old daughter Cheryl suggested a different solution, she jumped at the chance.
Mary said: "Cheryl was slightly overweight at the time so when she offered for us both to join a group, I could've snatched her hand off.
"From the very start, it was great – I went on the 'extra easy' plan, where you don't cut anything out of your diet, you just have smaller portions.
"I honestly feel the group has changed my life – even though I've reached my target weight I still go down to see them because they've become close friends."
Having banished six stone from her much-slimmer figure, Mary admits she is a completely different woman from what she was before, mainly thanks to a new exercise regime.
"Right now, I feel wonderful," she said. "I honestly feel about 30 years younger than I did before.
"I walk a lot on the weekends with my husband and I think it's really good – you start small but then you find yourself able to walk further and further and you feel better about yourself.
"This is the fittest I've been in years. I didn't used to do anything exercise-wise but now I can run up and down staircases."
And it isn't just Mary who has noticed her own remarkable transformation – her bulge-battling has inspired impressed family and friends around her.
"Everybody's amazed, I've got a niece who saw me, was really shocked and joined a group soon afterwards," said Mary, who lost the weight in under two years.
"People all tell me: 'You look and act like a different person – you're far more confident and outgoing,' and that's great.
"Honestly, I can't wait to go out and go clothes shopping – when I was big clothes just served the purpose of covering me, but now I can keep up with all the fashions."
Yet her biggest fan remains her husband John, a 63-year-old maintenance worker.
He is incredibly proud of his new-look wife.
John said: "She's done marvellously.
"It took a lot of hard work and she's done ever so well to keep going and lose all that weight.
"It's just fantastic – I noticed how sluggish she was getting before, but now I think she could easily pass me in a race!"