AT 23 STONES, Abertillery’s Hayley Edwards admits she found herself in a lot of embarrassing situations such as avoiding theme park rides in case she didn’t fit in.

But now after losing a massive eight stones within 16 months, Mrs Edwards is very much enjoying her slimmer and healthier lifestyle.

And with the aim of losing a further three-and-a-half stones by her 30th birthday in October to reach her target weight of 11st 7lbs, she is hoping the milestone celebration will be one to remember.

Mrs Edwards, who works as a nursing assistant at the Royal Gwent Hospital, said: “I have always been big, as a child and a teenager and the weight just crept on. But I began to find there was a lot of things which I was embarrassed to do. I have children, but wouldn’t go on theme park rides in case I didn’t fit.”

Working in the hospital, Mrs Edwards would also see obese patients suffering health problems. Already suffering from a bad back and palpitations herself, she realised that if she didn’t do something about her weight, she would find herself in the same situation.

But after joining a Slimming World group in Abertillery, Mrs Edwards quickly adopted a healthy eating plan and after losing some weight, also took up walking and swimming.

She said: “I’ve got to be honest – the eating plan is really, really easy. The amount of food you can eat is fantastic.”

Now, Mrs Edwards is no longer suffering health problems and is enjoying making the most of her time with husband Gareth and children Olivia, five, Alfie, four and step-daughter Shannon, 14.

She said: “In the summer, I’ll be making that trip to a theme park.” PANEL Then and now... typical meals TYPICAL diet before: Breakfast: Toast, tea and biscuits Lunch: Shop-bought sandwich Dinner: Takeaway or meal using ready-made ingredients such as jar of processed bolognese sauce.

Snack: Chocolate or crisps.

Typical diet now: Breakfast: Two Weetabix with a banana Lunch: Tuna pasta Dinner: Slimming World meal such as bolognese, chilli or a curry made from scratch Snacks: Fruit or yogurt