Just over a year ago Issi Popplewell was a size 26, reluctant to leave home and comfort eating when her self esteem plummeted.
Now, she is a svelte size 8 and feels she has been given her life back - working in a chocolate factory canteen.
Mum of two Mrs Popplewell, of Bloxham Road, Banbury now binges on strawberries or plums if she wants to graze - or distracts herself with a walk.
“I’ve lost ten stone, I’ve taken a job and am absolutely loving it. I trained as a hairdresser but left because I lost confidence through being fat,” she said.
“I started putting on weight in my teens and it gets harder to lose it as you get older.
“Slimming World has changed my life and now I want to inspire people to get rid of their weight. I don’t have many photos of myself before as I always shied away from it. It shows how depressed I was.
“I’d got so fat my knees were bad and I used to have to go up and down the stairs on my knees. I’d go off diets and then feel a failure, get more depressed and eat for comfort.”
Mrs Popplewell, 48, returned one last time to Shirley Warren’s Slimming World classes last March feeling it was her last chance.
“I thought if it didn’t work I would give up and resign myself to being fat for the rest of my life,” she said.
“But this time something clicked. I stuck with it and lost weight every week. Even the night my Mum died I went to my class. She was worried about my health because of my weight. I used to text her from sessions to tell her how much I’d lost. I felt I needed to carry on for her.”
The secret of Mrs Popple-well’s huge weight loss was eating plenty of the right foods and changing the way she regarded food.
“Instead of chips, pizza, burgers, takeaways and kebabs which I used to binge on if I was stressed, I eat more chicken and fish and I make sure half of my plate is vegetables or salad alongside the pasta or potatoes. Food is not a comfort any more. I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe and I’ve even been for a ride on my husband’s scooter,” she said.
Mrs Popplewell is climbing Snowdon next month to raise money for Asperger’s charities. She says she will continue to go to Slimming World meetings where she has made many friends.
Shirley Warren said: “The day Issi got her 10-stone award was the busiest group ever and everyone knew Issi only needed to lose one pound.
“The room fell silent when it was her turn to get weighed and she stepped on the scales and lost 3.5lbs we all screamed, we all cried and everyone rushed forward to hug and praise her.
“I can honestly say in the 25 years I have been a consultant I have never seen anything like it before. Over 100 people just stood crying, clapping and cheering.
“We are all so proud of her and Kirsty Pearce who owns the Style Bar in Banbury was so inspired by Issi story she has offered her a full make over and restyle in her salon.”