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Grave warning changed my life; vital PAULA LOST 8ST AFTER REALISING HER HEALTH WAS AT RISK WHEN SHE TOOK A BAD TURN IN CEMETERY.

Byline: By Laura Coventry

WEIGHING more than 18stone, Paula Stalker knew she had a high risk of heart disease... but panic set in when she felt ill on a visit to her granny's grave.

Worried about her future, she joined her local Scottish Slimmers class and followed its Positive Eating Plan.

Now almost two years later, Paula, 44, is eight stone lighter and, as well as improving her quality of life, has increased her life expectancy.

Instead of shopping for size 22 clothes, Paula's new slimline figure slips into size 10 jeans. The customer services adviser said: "I feel fantastic. I was bursting out of a size 22. I felt unhappy and wouldn't go out. I would come home on a Friday and sit in all weekend. I was in avery dark and depressing place.

"But I am never in now."

With a grandad who died of a heart attack and a mum who has diabetes and osteoarthritis, she had been worried about the impact her 18 stone 3lbs was having on her health.

Paula, of Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, said: "My weight was a strain on my heart. I felt as though I was 81. I was always breathing heavily and struggling to carry the shopping.

"The final straw was when Iwent to lay flowers at my granny's grave. I climbed the huge hill up to the cemetery and I couldn't breathe. I had heart palpitations and I was down on my knees.

"I was all alone and I panicked. I had my mobile with me, but I couldn't speak because I was so breathless. I realised my weight was the problem and I had to do something."

Each day Paula struggled to walk for 12 minutes to the bus stop but, after joining Scottish Slimmers, she increased the time she spent on foot to 45 minutes - and soon reached 10,000 steps aday, the British Heart Foundation's recommendation for a healthy heart.

The weight began to drop off and Paula no longer experienced breathlessness or an erratic heartbeat.

Almost every month, she needed to buy a pair of work trousers in a smaller size. This continued until she drop six dress sizes, from a 22 to a 10.

In May 2007, she reached her target weight - just 14 months after joining.

Paula said: "My friend Evelyn lifted me up and whirled me around in the class." The celebrations continued when Paula was named a Slimmer of the Year finalist.

Now weighing 10st 11lbs, 5ft 5in Paula is an inspiration to others and is so motivated by her own success that she has trained to become a class manager for Scottish Slimmers.

And Paula, who's been divorced for anumber of years, met her new man Stephen, 45, soon after reaching her target weight. They are planning to wed in October this year. Ironically, Paula will be wearing a size 10 wedding gown - one size smaller than the dress she wore when she married her first husband at the age of 25.

For info on Scottish Slimmers, visit www.scottishslimmers.com or to join the Daily Record's Get Fit club, visit www.dailyrecord.co.uk /getfit

If you are worried about your heart or lifestyle, call the British Heart Foundations Heart Helpline on 0300 333 1 333.

NAME: Paula Stalker

OCCUPATION: Customer Services Adviser

HEIGHT: 5ft 5in

WEIGHT BEFORE: 18st 3lb

WEIGHT AFTER: 10st 5lb

DRESS SIZE BEFORE: 22

DRESS SIZE AFTER: 10

CAPTION(S):

BEFORE: Paula at 18st and size 22; AFTER: The new-look Paula is a super-slim size 10
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:590
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