EIGHTEEN months ago Karen Blake rarely wore a dress because of her weight – now she's dressing to impress after shedding more than six stones.

The 53-year-old weighed 16 stone 3lb when she joined a slimming group in June 2017 – but is now a slender nine stone 10lb.

She said she wanted to join the Blackburn group for health reasons but also because she hadn’t worn a glamorous dress for 16 years.

Mrs Blake, who lives in Ewood, said: “I wouldn’t wear any short or fitted dresses due to my weight.

“So I would wear looser dresses or just clothing that disguised my weight, so I’d wear lots of dark clothing and warm, woolly jumpers instead.

“Now that I’ve lost weight, I feel as if I have the confidence so I can wear other dresses.

“It’s a great feeling.”

Her weight loss has seen her drop an incredible five dress sizes from size 18 to size 10.

Mrs Blake said she attends the Fernhurst Slimming World group once a week in the evening and that it helped her see that you can eat normally and lose weight.

In a typical day, Mrs Blake will eat fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, salad and a jacket potato for lunch and chicken or mince meat with veg for dinner.

She said that she had always had problems with her weight since childhood and just wanted to feel better in herself.

Mrs Blake, who works as a university lecturer, said: “I’d had an issue with my weight for years, although I didn’t eat an unhealthy diet, I probably didn’t enough of the healthy things.

“Slimming World has taught me about healthy eating and to eat lots of fruit and veg and no processed food.

“It’s taught me that healthy eating is a way of life and I have a healthy eating plan.

“I’ve also learnt that you can eat plentiful amounts and that you don’t have to starve yourself life you do in other diets.”

Mrs Blake, who has been married to husband Simon for 10 years said her aim was to maintain her weight.

She said: “I feel a great sense of achievement losing all this weight and I just want to maintain it now.

“So I’ve learnt from Slimming World that it’s healthy eating for life.”

The group meets on Thursday evenings at the Fernhurst pub in Bolton Road at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.