Gill, 46 from Wavetree

I tell other women: “don’t be ashamed of yourself, don’t worry about other people, just think ‘good on you girl, you’ve done something amazing for yourself’.”

When I was 39 years old, I weighed about 26-and-a-half stone. When I walked upstairs I could hardly breathe and my hips would touch the sides of the walls. My lifestyle was so unhealthy it was unbelievable. I was drinking a lot and smoking and I did no exercise at all. After falling downstairs and tearing ankle ligaments I visited my doctor. He told me if I didn’t stop smoking and lose weight I wouldn’t see my 40th birthday.

So I started to go for short walks – that’s all I could manage at first – I cut down my portion sizes and ate more healthily. Then one day, I was standing at a bus stop and I saw a ‘This Girl Can’ poster. I thought, that’s a real woman like me, and if she can do it, so can I. It absolutely inspired me.

I bought some trainers and every morning I’d run around the park, in the dark so nobody could see me. I was embarrassed at first because I didn’t want people to laugh at me, but I kept that poster in my head and kept thinking, I can do this, there’s nothing stopping me but myself.

Since 2014 I have ran in the Liverpool Santa Dash and competed in regular 10k runs and, now I’m 46, I have just signed up for a series of half marathons to raise money for charity. What’s more my weight gradually came down and it’s stayed off.

I spent so many years worrying what everyone thought of me and thinking, does my bum look big? Are my legs too fat? But now I don’t care anymore. I’m not skinny, I’m 13-and-a-half stones and I get sweaty when I exercise, but the sense of accomplishment when I finish a race is fantastic.