NO longer able to buy clothes off the rails in shops, Karen Paul suddenly realised she desperately needed to change her lifestyle.
Having reached a size 22, she decided against shopping in specialist stores or magazines for larger sizes, and instead opted to shed the weight.
In January, last year the 36-year-old, of Meon Road, Southsea, set herself a target to lose four stone – and has shifted two stone already.
In a bid to help lose a couple more pounds she signed up to the British Heart Foundation’s Round the Harbours bike ride, on June 10.
‘This time last year I never would’ve thought I could do a 35-mile cycle,’ she said.
‘I didn’t do any exercise at all and even walking up the stairs got me out of breath.
‘I was so big that I could barely do my shoes up and I couldn’t find any clothes to fit me in the shops.
‘At that point, I decided enough was enough and I needed to get fit and healthy.’
Karen adopted a sensible and healthy diet as well as taking up cycling.
She now regularly cycles 28 miles and tries to go a bit further every time she’s out.
Signing up to the ride, which is organised by the BHF and supported by The News, marks the half-way point of her challenge.
She added: ‘I’ve noticed a big difference already. I don’t get out of breath going up and down the stairs and I don’t fit all my larger sized clothes. But I’ve not finished my journey yet, I still have a long way to go.
‘If I can complete this ride it will give me an enormous sense of wellbeing and the encouragement to keep going.
‘When I decided to do it, a lot of people said to me I would never manage it. But that just made me even more determined to do it.’
The News is calling on as many readers as possible to take part in the ride – which passes through Southsea, Havant, Fareham and Gosport – to help the charity reach its target of 2,012 participants.
To take part call 0808 100 2109, email firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to bhf.org.uk/roundtheharbours.
Fees in advance are £15 for an adult or £7.50 per child. Entry on the day costs £20 for adults and £10 for children.