IT is the first time in my adult life that I actually feel like a woman' - the words of a 45-year-old Moira woman who has lost a remarkable eight stones in seven months with the Lighterlife programme. weighed 18 stones in May and was wearing a size 26 when she joined the local club. Today she is 10 stone 10lbs and can get into skinny jeans.
She is so changed that even a regular customer at the bank where she works walked past her, asking where Barbara was! She said "there was only a wee young thing in the office where she works".
Even the sister of her best friend, who she met at a New Year's Eve party, had to ask her who she was.
Barbara had been putting on weight since her early 20's and had tried several other weight loss programmes in the past. Although she lost up to three stones she quickly put the weight back on.
Barbara found that while she was eating healthy foods she was also munching three chocolate bars a day, as well as a packet of biscuits and to round it off would consume up to three bottles of wine a week.
Barbara, a part-time holistic therapist, realised she could no longer talk to her clients about 'optimum health.'
"I just felt I couldn't justify talking to my clients when I was clearly obese, unhealthy and unhappy within myself," she said.
"I was struggling to walk upstairs and even just taking the dogs for a short walk left me out of breath. I hated the way I looked and the way I perceived people were judging me because of my size."
Standing at 18 stone 9Ibs she started the local Lighterlife programme last January, and although she got the doctor's letter it was not until May that she properly joined. During her initial abstinence period she consumed only the food she was allowed to like milkshakes, bars and soups which made her full up.
Barbara, who owns 14 stray cats and four dogs, lost four and a half stone in three months. She exercised in three one hours sessions a week and took the dogs for regular walks. By August she was easily able to walk around Tollymore Forest Park and managed a four hour walk around Belfast Zoo -something she could not never have considered a few months before.
If she ever thought of chocolate Barbara used a system where she would tap or pressure points and keep herself busy and within months she was able to come off tablets for her fibromyalgia condition.
While losing weight she also gained new found confidence and was able to complete her reflexology and Indian Head Massage Diplomas, and she also passed her motor bike test and bought herself a Harley Davison.
But the best bit about losing weight for Barbara is that she feels like a whole new woman.
"The biggest thing for me is that for the first time my adult life I actually feel like a 'woman'," said Barbara. "I am definitely a woman, feminine and with curves in the 'right' places.
"LighterLife has given me back my life and a sense of purpose and self esteem. The support has been fantastic and I will continue to attend meetings to manage my weight for the rest of my life."