THE best things come in smaller packages, according to petite mums Joanne Dean and Karen Wignall.

Between them, the pair have lost more than four stone and are now dedicating themselves to helping and inspiring others to achieve their New Year’s weight loss resolutions.

Joanne, 26, may have only lost 1st 4.5lbs, but at just 4ft 11in that’s seen her drop three dress sizes.

While 5ft 2in Karen has slimmed from tipping a size 18 to buying size 10 skinny jeans in the space of 15 months.

Mum-of-two Joanne, from Knuzden, says she piled on the pounds and shot up from a size eight when she quit smoking in July 2009, a habit she’d had since the age of 13.

“I decided this was the time for me to try and quit this bad habit, which is when I noticed my weight started piling on,” she said.

“I hated myself and always hid in big clothes.

“I stopped socialising as I was so ashamed to go out of the house, let alone do anything that the kids wanted to do like swimming and going for walks.”

She decided to take action in May, after three people asked the same toe-nail curlingly embarrassing question: “When are you due?”

“My son Louis has realised I’ve lost weight, he made comments about my belly being gone,” she added.

“And a lot of my friends who’ve stopped smoking have put on weight and then started up again – but I’m proud I didn’t, with a lot of determination.”

Signing up for Slimming World, little did Joanne expect that a few months later she would be training as a consultant herself.

It was at one of these sessions that Joanne met Karen, a fellow trainee – whose weight loss totals 3st.

For Karen, 42, from Darwen, seeing her sister and a colleague succeed gave her the will to join Slimming World with her mum Margaret about 15 months ago.

“I’d tried other diets but never really had the motivation to do it properly,” she said.

“But when I turned 40, I didn’t want to be the stereotype ‘Fat, frumpy and 40’.

“I had convinced myself for 20-plus years that there was no way I would ever be less than a size 14, that I was just built wrongly.

“Then last week, I did the best thing I’ve ever done: I bought a pair of size 10 skinny jeans.

“My daughter wasn’t happy, as that’s what she wears – but she’s 13 and a lot taller than me, so I can’t raid her wardrobe because it would all be too long.”

Joanne and Karen admit they were lacking in confidence before starting their weight loss, but this week, they have proven how far they’ve come having launched new Slimming World classes in Knuzden and Lower Darwen.

The mums are keen to share their own changes and experiences with other people now.

Joanne said: “I can relate to how people feel when trying to give up smoking but are reluctant to because of potential weight gain – there is help out there and yes you can do it.”

While Karen is convinced that ‘mum’s the word’ when it comes to battling the bulge: “Joanne and I have become great friends – we have so much in common including being able to help other mums out there so that they don’t end up in the same circle as we did, and to help families lead healthier lifestyles.

“I know now that ‘mum’ is definitely the key to solving this obesity problem that the UK is facing – getting food right at the heart of the family.”

Joanne’s class takes place on Mondays, at 7pm, at Knuzden Community Hall, Fecitt Brow, while Karen will host sessions at St James’ Parish Room, Stopes Brow, Mondays, at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.