“I just want to be fit enough to play games and do things with my kids”

STARTING AGAIN: Above, Paula Burton with personal trainer Mark Bank. Below, Paula before and after her original weight-loss.
STARTING AGAIN: Above, Paula Burton with personal trainer Mark Bank. Below, Paula before and after her original weight-loss.
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Four years ago, Paula Burton made her weight-loss dream come true, but has returned to almost her original size. Now she’s ready to start the battle again with the help of a wearside personal trainer. Monica Turnbull reports.

MUM-of-two Paula Burton thought she had conquered her body image demons when she lost nine stone.

The accident and emergency nurse was expecting to begin a new, active life, with her children, Newton, seven, and Nieve, five.

Now, four years later, she is nearly back to her original weight of 20stone.

“I don’t want to be one of those couch potato mums,” she said.

“I’m only 34, I should have a long life ahead of me.”

Paula, of Fence Houses, weighs 18stone and a dangerous 45 per cent of her body is made up of fat.

“I look horrendous at the moment,” she told the Echo. “I know I do.”

The admittedly selfless nurse, who works shifts at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, wants to fight the fat, and begin a new healthy lifestyle.

“I did feel healthier and fitter after losing the weight before,” she said.

“I felt confident and fit, and it was amazing week after week, seeing the weight drop off.

“But it was on a dramatic food replacement diet that I couldn’t keep up forever.

“At the time it did change my life, but it cost £70 a week and there was no follow-up.

“Once the food replacement had finished there was a weight management course to slowly re-introduce food.

“I did that, and I was even a mentor to other people on the scheme, advising them how to do it.

“I had a tummy tuck on the NHS and I felt great.

“But slowly, over the years, the weight has crept back on, and I’m ashamed to say I’m nearly back to where I was originally.”

Paula, who is single, has struggled with the death of close friends and the breakdown of her marriage since her original weight loss. “It has been a hard time,” she said. “I wouldn’t blame that for me putting the weight back on, but it has been difficult to deal with.

“I do tend to go out of my way to help others, that’s just who I am. It’s what I do.

“I haven’t been concentrating on myself the way I should have.”

The lowest point for Paula came during a family holiday to Turkey, in May.

“I found myself not wanting to do any activities with my family,” she said.

“They were playing a game of Star Wars with my little nephew Harry and I didn’t want to join in.

“He looked up at me and said ‘aunty Paula, you can be Jabba the Hutt, because you look like Jabba the Hutt.’

“I looked at my brother, Steven, and said ‘well, if that’s not honesty for you then what is.’

“He didn’t mean it maliciously, he’s only four. But that made me want to live longer for them as well.”

Now Paula has resolved to change her life.

“I’m a nurse,” she said. “I know the strain being overweight can put on your heart, and I’m determined to change for good.”

The single-mum has signed up to a 12-week training programme with personal trainer Mark Bank, of The Fitness Bank gym, Ashbrooke.

“A friend told me she can see how unhappy I am,” said Paula.

“Then she told me she had been working with Mark, and a bit about what he does, and I liked the sound of it.

“I met with him and he suggested I do a personal training programme.

“He told me about his eating plan and I liked what he had to say.

“I’ve got nothing to lose, so I want to give it my best shot.” The programme entails following two fully mapped-out meal plans – each a week-long – which will be rotated every week for 12 weeks, as well as three training sessions a week, and home workouts.

Paula began the regime just over two weeks ago and has already lost a stone.

“She has set her mind to changing her life,” said Mark. “And she’s doing all the right things, so far it’s going really well.”

“I just want to try to make people aware that these fad diets don’t work.

“That no matter what diet it is, you can’t get away from changing the way you eat and exercising.”

Mark is using a variety of techniques to sculpt Paula’s body, including interval and bodyweight training, cardiovascular exercise, and weights.

“It will help gradually increase her strength and improve her fitness,” he said.

“I would expect her to lose about three or pounds per week, so over the 12 weeks she should see a huge change.”

Paula is hoping the programme will help her to achieve a lifelong dream.

“I want to do something that is realistic,” she said. “I’m not expecting to be skinny and I don’t want to be.

“I just want to be fit enough to play games and do things with my kids.

“And hopefully I will be able to run the Great North Run next year, in nice sportswear. That is my long-term goal.

“This isn’t just a quick fix for me. I am determined to change my life and encourage other people not to be afraid to reach for happiness in theirs.”

* For more information about Mark Bank and The Fitness Bank, visit www.fitnessbank.co.uk or tel: 07946 466 365.