A NEW driver has shed a spectacular seven stone after struggling to fit behind the steering wheel of her car.

Christine Mann, 59, was driven to turn her life around after tipping the scales at nearly 20 stones shortly after passing her driving test.

But she is now on the road to a healthier life and has found the confidence to go back to education - as well as dropping from a size 22 to a slim size 14.

Christine now weighs just over 12 stones after making changes to her eating habits - while still enjoying potatoes and homemade curries.

Christine said: “After passing my driving test, l struggled to fit behind the steering wheel. “This was getting me down as my stomach was right up to the steering wheel and l didn’t enjoy driving.

“l was also depressed about not being able to go into any shop to buy clothes.

“But as l have lost the weight my confidence has grown. l go to college twice a week and I’m currently taking GCSE exams in English and Maths.

“l have become a ‘yes’ person and I’m interested in new challenges.”

Christine, from Yeovil, told how she had tried losing weight in the past but struggled as she could not stick to rigid diets.

Instead, she joined Slimming World where she was supported by a weekly group to lose weight, while never going hungry.

“l think I failed in the past because l was doing it alone but the support and many friends l made at Slimming World helped me stick with it this time,” said Christine.

“Before, l used to go for quick convenience meals which were not always the healthiest.

“But my eating habits have changed so now l have a healthy diet, not takeaways but eating more vegetables and salads.

“Even in restaurants l tend to go for jacket potatoes and l go for a lot more fruit and fresh vegetables, lean meats and homemade curries.

“The things l enjoy the most about the plan are that there is so much free food to choose from, you can eat as much of this as you like never going hungry, plus no counting calories.”

Christine, who has been married for 37 years, still attends the group every week and enjoys free membership now she has achieved her target weight.

She also enjoys supporting other members of the group as part of the social team.

Christine added: “It is a very friendly group so l enjoy going each week for the support.

“l also support the other members as a social team member helping them to lose weight and achieve their target.”

A recent study by the University of Lincoln found that people who are supported to lose weight in a group environment, lose weight - but also improve their mental toughness. Dr Elizabeth Stamp said: “Mental toughness is about how someone copes with the challenges and stressors they face.

“More than that though, it is about seeking out and taking on new challenges. People who have a high mental toughness have skills like being able to break bigger goals into smaller achievable goals, being in control of their life and the decisions that they make, and having the confidence to seek help when needed.

“Helping members think about the challenges, make plans for when things may get in the way, and develop strategies for these times, are all ways in which the group supports members to stick to their plans and successfully lose weight each week.”

Christine’s consultant, Julie Snowdon, said: “Christine was a shy lady who has more confidence in group and is up for anything.

“She comes every week to help, join in, communicate her achievements, and is always cheery. “We’re so proud of her and the changes she’s made to get to where she is today.”

Julie’s group runs at the Yeovil Ex-Service and Social Club every Monday at 6.30pm and every Tuesday at 9.30am.