LOUISE Melbourne has ditched her diet of Mars bars to lose half her body weight – and have more energy to work, rest and play.
The 45-year-old feasted on an average of five bars a day - and with 963 calories per 51gram bar, she ate 4, 815 calories a day in chocolate alone.
Just 21 months ago she hit the scales at 18st, 2lbs.
And getting stuck on a water ride and losing a boyfriend because of her weight did not stop her enjoying her food, which included burger and chips.
The mum-of-one had high blood pressure and doctors warnedher that because of her size she was at risk of a stroke and a heart attack.
But it was only when she saw her late dad, Gordon, suffer from heart disease, diabetes and finally succumb to cancer in April of last year, that she found the willpower to change her ways.
Only last year Louise, who is 5ft 4in, dropped from a size 24 to a trim size eight and now weighs a 9st.
And today Louise, who lives with her 17-year-old son in Padgate, is preparing for the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon in Trafford.
Louise says: “The doctors had warned me that I needed to lose weight because I had high blood pressure and it was putting a strain on my heart.
"I was at risk of a stroke and my weight could cause knee and joint damage.
“It did scare me a little, but it was only when my father lung cancer that it really hit home. I was devastated to see my dad suffer. We had been very close and it was hard to see him in pain during the last few months of his life.
“I didn’t want to have illnesses or diseases which could possibly be avoided with healthy living. I was determined to get healthy so I could live a long life for my son, family and myself.”
Louise had been chubby child but the weight continued to creep on as the years went by and she weighed in at 21st when she was 25.
Louise, who works as a cashier at Sainsbury’s petrol station, said: “I lived on a diet of mostly bread and chocolate and I was a Mars bar addict. I’d eat around five bars a day. Working in a garage, I was surrounded by sweets and would often have a bar in my break. I just couldn’t resist.
“But I had no energy and while I acted like the clown in social groups, I just wasn’t happy with my weight. My skin also felt greasy.
“I loved my food and drink and gorging became a habit. I got heavier but chose to ignore it. I was in denial.”
She added: “Three years ago I went on holiday with friends to Benidorm, Spain. I got stuck on a water slide at the Aqualandia Water Park and one of my friends, Louise, had to push me free.
“I also had difficulty getting my seatbelt across myself on the plane. It was embarrassing in front of so many people.
“It would get me down sometimes and I wished I was slimmer. I’d also have people point and laugh at me in the street, calling me names like ‘fatty’ or mocking me because I walked so slowly. It wasn’t just children, but adults as well.”
A month before her father’s death, Louise joined up to the Warrington Bootcamp, which is an extreme weight loss programme. It involves group work outs, exercise classes and tailored nutritional advice.
Personal trainer Paul Warburton used to fill up his car at the garage where Louise works and he told her about his bootcamp.
Today she exercises everyday – sometimes even twice a day.
She said: “It was difficult at first and I ached all over after exercising. There were times I felt like giving up, but Paul Warburton and the team at the bootcamp were really supportive and I kept going.
“I lost a stone in the first month, but as I was so big it wasn’t that noticeable. Then about three months into it I started to see the results and people started to say I looked well.”
She turned to running instead of comfort eating to take her mind off her worries.
She said: “I started to go for a run to forget things and to clear my mind. Before I used to pick up a chocolate bar and glass of wine, but now I pick up my earphones and go for a run. I built it up gradually and trained for a 5k, then a 10k and then a half marathon.
Her brother, Mike, and his wife, Sandra, came to cheer her on along at The Spire Healthcare English Half Marathonin September. Friends from work and the bootcamp also went along to support her.
She said: “It felt brilliant crossing the finish line. I was determined to do it and I knew I could if I put my mind to it.”
Louise also raised £500 for St Rocco’s Hospice, which cared for her brother, Ronnie, in Warrington. Now she is preparing for her first full marathon on April 6.