LOCAL hairdresser Kaaron Coates is a whole new woman; so much so that people no longer recognise her after she lost an amazing nine stone in just 18 months.
Kaaron has had a lifelong struggle with her weight and after years of trying diets and stopping and starting Weightwatchers classes, she finally had success after she restarted the class and dedicated herself to her diet and fitness.
Kaaron, who attends the Weightwatchers class at Brownlee Primary School in Lisburn on a Tuesday night, which is led by Bernie Walsh, has transformed from a size 24 to a svelte size 12 - and she is determined not to go back to her old ways.
Kaaron explained: "I have been in Weightwatchers for 10 years but it has taken 18 months to lose my weight. In the past I have last four stone with Weightwatchers but then I put it back on and more besides. I have known Bernie for a long time and I just said 'it is now or never'. I have struggled with weight all my life, I think this has been the first time in my life I am thinner than my mother, but I am determined this time to never go back again." The former self-confessed 'couch potato' is now dedicated to exercising each day, going to the gym before work every morning and also taking Tae Bo classes twice each week as well as a spin class three times each week.
Kaaron continued: "The chat and support in class is a big help, you get a bit of trait and Bernie is always there for you. "I knew if I stopped going it would just go back on again so I was determined this time and the exercise has helped me to reach my target.
"My friends and family are delighted," she added. "I've actually stopped to speak to people in the street and they don't even know me.
"I feel so much better and more confident and it is great to be able to go into any shop and buy clothes."
Kaaron concluded: "I would like to thank Bernie and all of the class members for their support; if I get a man now they are all invited to my wedding!" Class leader Bernie Walsh said she was thrilled for Kaaron and delighted with her achievement.
"This isn't Kaaron's first time of trying to lose weight, but this time I knew she would do it" Bernie said. "She was just so focused; she had made her mind up and she looks brilliant. I am so proud."
Bernie added: "Kaaron has really gotten into her activity this time, she's up every morning in the gym before work; she is very dedicated. I would also like to acknowledge the achievement of the men in the Men Only class on a Tuesday evening. The class only began in September and each week we have between 20-25 men come along, who have lost an incredible 37 stone in just four months, it is wonderful for them."