EIGHTEEN months ago, Emma Hann couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. Now she’s signed up for a cross-county race after losing six stone in weight.

The shift worker from Creekmoor in Poole, used to tip the scales at 20 stone and would hide herself behind a wardrobe of shapeless clothes and closed doors.

“It's not that I didn't go out,” she says.

“I had to work, and would meet friends on a one-to-one basis, but the idea of going out in a group would terrify me. I wanted to be fitter, more active and more confident, but I just didn't know how.”

But within the space of 18 months, the 34-year-old has turned her life around after joining a Slimming World class in Broadstone.

“I was apprehensive at first as I’d tried diets before, but despite good losses, the weight would always go back on because I couldn't sustain it,” Emma explains.

“Following diets on shift work is really hard because you can't create a routine.

“Sometimes I'm eating breakfast when everyone around me is on lunch or dinner, and vice-versa.”

But within a month of joining the group Emma had lost a stone.

“The consultant Andrea was so reassuring that shifts and slimming could co-exist happily together and because I can visit any group anywhere in the country, I didn't have to miss out when work clashed with group night”.

By the time she'd lost three and a half stone, her sister persuaded her to join the gym.

Emma adds: “Now I’m going to challenge myself by competing in a Mud Runner event, one of a series of challenging cross-country events.”

Emma is also embarking on a new career as a Slimming World Consultant.

Her Saturday morning class starts at 9.30am on April 26 at St Peter’s Church Hall in Ashley Cross, Poole.