Six months ago Helena Ridsdale was so unfit and overweight she found it an ordeal to even use the stairs at home.
But after embarking on a healthy eating diet and fitness regime, the Heywood mum-of-two is now preparing to take part in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22.
An unflattering photograph of Helena out walking with husband Colin persuaded her to her change of lifestyle.
"My eldest son Dan took a picture of me puffing up a small hill and that was my wake up call," explained 50-year-old Helena, who is Head of Online for fashion retailer Littlewoods Clearance in Manchester.
"I weighed 19 stones and was a size 26 but hadn't become unfit overnight – it was a culmination of years of eating and drinking to excess. I joined a gym with my best friend and have lost five and a five and half stones and I'm now a size 16. To start with I was just walking on a treadmill but I got fitter and now also attend spin classes."
"I used to walk the school cross-country races, yet now I'm looking forward to running 10k on one of Manchester's biggest sporting occasions of the year. I'm still in a state of shock after completing a 7k training run a few days ago."
Helena cut sugar from her diet and reduced her alcohol intake, investing the money in her personal training sessions and her gym membership at The Village, Bury.
"I have porridge for breakfast, a fish or chicken salad at lunch and a light evening meal. I hated running at first but now really enjoy it and the sense of achievement is brilliant.
"Exercise gives you the best feeling and I feel better every day. My husband's only complaint is that I keep having to buy new clothes!"
Helena will undertake the Great Manchester Run with her personal trainer Luke Harreld whom she credit with giving her the motivation and confidence to sign up for the run. He said: "Helena has done exceptionally well and stuck to her goals once she set her mind to it."
To enter the Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 22, go to www.greatrun.org/Manchester
Helena is raising funds for the mental health charity Mind, having suffered from depression herself in the past. To sponsor Helena go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/HelenaRidsdale