It took Julie Bishop a couple of false starts to pluck up the courage to do something about her weight.
Fed-up of feeling fat and frumpy she’d promised herself that she’d get her unhealthy eating habits under control once and for all.
Weighing-in at more than 15 stone nine, she suffered from breathlessness and relied heavily on her asthma inhaler.
Following the death of both of her parents, Julie had already decided that enough was enough. All those late-night raids on the fridge simply had to stop and her sweet tooth had to be curbed.
But promising herself she would change wasn’t as easy as walking through the slimming club doors – as Julie soon found out.
‘I found a Weight Watchers session that I could make and decided to go,’ explains Julie, from Milton, Portsmouth.
‘I’d very much been in denial but I knew I had to do something. But I’ve never been good with new people and I suppose I’d got stuck in a rut.
‘My husband kept dropping me off at the session – but I only went in on the third attempt.’
The 57-year-old mum-of-one joined the Tuesday night session in Eastney and put her nerves to one side to take part in the weigh-in and group meeting.
Taking a seat at the back of the hall, she soon found that it wasn’t half as bad as she’d feared.
And by the end of the meeting she says she was feeling inspired enough to know that she’d want to go back.That was October 2011 and since then Julie’s lost 102 pounds to take her down to a slim eight stone five.
The size 24-26 clothes have been ditched for size eight-10 dresses and Julie now enjoys shopping for the first time in her life.
‘It’s wonderful,’ she says. ‘I’ve not been this size since I was very young. My son says I’m not so cuddly any more but I’ve got much more confidence than I’ve ever had before.’
While the slimming club taught her about healthy food and portion control, Julie always knew that she’d need to tackle her love of cakes, chocolate and sweet treats if she was to succeed.
Years of caring for others had led her to comfort eat – especially during the middle of the night.
‘I’ve never slept very well and that was a problem,’ she explains. ‘I’d run to the fridge and would just eat.
‘I still know that if I bought a big bar of chocolate I’d eat it all, so we get the fun-size chocolate bars.
‘I knew what I was eating was wrong. It was very much the sweet things and the pastries.’
As the weight started to drop off Julie also began to exercise. It was another new experience but one that left her feeling good about herself as she soon saw the results she was looking for.
‘I started to lose weight quite quickly,’ she says.
‘Going to Weight Watchers gave me the push I needed. I used to be quite a negative person but I’m looking at things more positively now. I still go to group every week and I really enjoy it. I sit at the front now, not the back.
‘I only use my inhaler when I exercise and the rest of the time it’s at the bottom of my handbag.’