AN INSPIRED mum will embark on a running challenge following her dramatic weight loss.
Joanne Collins, from Locks Heath, will take on the 10-mile Great South Run later this year, after losing six stone in as many months.
Her journey to fitness begun after a soul-crushing family trip to Center Parcs left her unable to take part in any physical activities with her children.
At a size 22 – weighing more than 17 stone – Joanne felt too embarrassed to go swimming with her two sons Finlay, five and Luke, nine.
As a result, she spent much of what should have been an enjoyable family break sat on her own.
After deciding it was time to act, Joanne signed up to the Cambridge Weight Plan in order to control the portion sizes of her meals.
Following six months of dieting, she shed six-and-a-half stone and dropped 10 dress sizes.
Now feeling healthy at 10st 10lbs, Joanne is gearing up for the Simplyhealth Great South Run on October 22.
Joanne, 46, said: ‘I was a complete mess and I was ashamed of the way I looked.
‘When I went to Center Parcs with the kids and realised I could never in my wildest dreams do some of the activities there with them, it was a huge turning point.
‘Now I am six-and-a-half stone down I feel as though I have officially caught the running bug.’
Joanne says the loss of a friend inspired her to dream of something bigger.
‘I lost a close friend, Marie, and I initially started running to raise money for the hospice that supported her in her final days.
‘During this fundraising I developed a love for running and decided that I really wanted to push myself.
‘I bit the bullet and signed up for the Great South Run.
‘Marie was really supportive of my desire to lose weight and change my life so it is really fitting that I continue the fundraising for such an amazing cause [Hospicare].
‘I will be able to hold my head high when I cross the finish line.’
For more information or to sign up to the Great South Run, visit: greatrun.org/great-south-run.