My name is Ruth Howie.  I am 50 years old and live in Crieff, Perthshire.  In August 2013 I weighed 20 stone and by August 2014 weighed 9 stone 8 pounds, having lost 10 stone 6 pounds.  I had gained weight over a 10-12 year period, from overeating and taking no exercise.  I felt unhappy with my size but the more unhappy I felt, the more I would eat.  It was a vicious cycle.

My son, Zak started running and joined the Strathearn Harriers, our local running group, to train for the Raleigh Challenge Wilson Trail in Hong Kong.  I helped him organise his training schedule and thought, ‘I wish I could run with him.’  Being overweight affected every part of my life; I found household chores difficult and felt lethargic, which made me demotivated.  It was hard to walk and I felt out-of-breath which exacerbated my asthma, to the point where I needed my Ventolin inhaler every day.  Furthermore, I started experiencing sleep apnoea and had high cholesterol, so knew that being diagnosed with diabetes or suffering from a stroke or heart attack was imminent.

For me, the turning point was when I realised that when my children got married there was a good chance I would be dead.  It was chilling.  It gave me the motivation I needed to change my life and in August 2013, with determination, I started a diet.  Within two months I lost 4 stone.

The first time I tried to exercise, I asked my husband to drive me to the bottom of a hill near our house and walked up it.  After that, I started running a 1.5 mile downhill route, at 5am when nobody would see me.  I then would walk back up the hill, as fast as I could.  When I felt more confident with my running ability, I began running a reasonably flat 3 mile route in Crieff.

In December 2013 I decided to buy proper running shoes and a Garmin watch, to monitor my calorie burn during the training sessions.  In addition, I joined the Strathearn Harriers and started to run regularly with them, increasing my miles with the support of my friends and club members.

I now run 4-6 times per week, between 6-23 miles.  I recently achieved a 23 minute PB for 5k and a 46 minute PB for 10k, as well as completing the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run in 1 hour 43 minutes.  My family have loved and supported me throughout this journey and love me unconditionally, no matter what my size.  I have been told I am inspirational but for me, helping just one person would be wonderful!  Because of my story, some of my friends have started running which has been really rewarding to see.

In my opinion, the most important factor in my transformation has been my attitude.  When I decided that I wanted to see my children get married and meet my future grandchildren, the path was easy because I focused on feeling positive, instead of deprived like most conventional weight loss programmes.  I now enjoy my life as a slim person and the results speak for themselves.  These days, I believe I can achieve just about anything.