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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Carlisle woman is seven stone lighter thanks to gym success

An inspirational woman who lost seven stone and halved her dress size says she has “got her life back”.

Lisa Cowdrey, who is partially sighted and has learning difficulties, turned up at Carlisle’s Curves fitness centre in August 2011 weighing 20st 5lbs.

The 41-year-old, from Stanwix, Carlisle, had battled with her weight since childhood, with her lack of confidence causing problems in everyday life. She had so little self-esteem that she’d never even been able to get on a bus. But after a little encouragement from her sister and help at the women-only gym, her life is totally transformed.

One of her major achievements was being runner-up in the Curves-organised Curvette 2013 competition in London after being nominated by members.

Lisa said: “I have got my life back. I can get on the bus and do everyday things like walk my dog and go clothes shopping – that’s my favourite. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

She had tried mixed gyms but didn’t find the support that she needed and had trouble feeling at home. But sister Amanda convinced her to sign up at Curves, and it’s clear she fits in well.

Fellow gym-goers sit and laugh with her, while others work away on various machines to the sound of booming music. And the affection for Lisa is obvious, with a photograph album documenting a trip to the capital and her first glass of champagne.

She credits the environment at the gym for her metamorphosis.

Lisa said: “I have got friends here as well, and people speak to you.”

Julia Clifford, who runs the gym, said that other members are motivated by seeing what Lisa has achieved.

She said: “We go above and beyond to make people feel supported. For someone to overcome what Lisa has is amazing and she can be a phenomenal inspiration for a lot of people.

“She has much more confidence. Our members love her and are inspired by her.”

Cumbria was last month named the fattest area of England with figures revealing that more than three-quarters of people are classed as overweight or obese. Figures from Public Health England showed 68.3 per cent of people are overweight or obese. The worst district was Copeland, with 75.9 per cent of people overweight or obese. In Carlisle, 68.4 per cent were overweight, 68.8 per cent in Eden and 66.5 per cent in Allerdale.

Dr Jane Rossini, Cumbria and Lancashire centre director at Public Health England, said there was “no silver bullet” to reduce obesity but they were committed to tackling the issue.

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