A HEAVY dose of emotional support, dollops of practical advice and exercise and easy-to-follow nutritional tips were all it took for serial dieter Nicola Scotford to finally lose weight.

After innumerable crash diets and supposed miracle fixes, the mother-of- three from Pinehurst had reached the end of her tether and went to her GP for help. He encouraged her to sign up to Swindon Council’s health programme Dietbusters in Septem-ber 2012.

This was her last chance, she grabbed it and more than a year on, she has shed five stones and is still working to arrive at her ideal BMI.

With its blend of tutorials on nutrition and fitness sessions, the 12-week programme was far from anything she had attempted before.

While learning how to read food labels and plan a wholesome meal while setting herself goals each week, with help from fellow participants, she shed a stone.

“What really helped was having the extra support and having people around me going through the same thing,” said the 37-year-old. “It gave me a boost to get my weight moving again.

“I also learned my real hunger levels. I used to eat for the sake of eating but I was not hungry; I was just bored.

"Now if I feel hungry I will find something to do or have a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If I’m still hungry then I will eat something.”

Dietbusters was set up to tackle obesity in the community. Each session is split in a 45-minute healthy eating talk and 45-minutes of fun exercises.

“The course helps you to learn about what food to eat and how to check food labels,” she added. “I lost one stone during the course and another four stone since. I weigh 14 and a half stone now.”

“You’ve got to want to change. It is not a quick thing. I went from a size 30 to a size 16 in jeans. I used to be very embarrassed being in the playground with my children, I was the fat mum. It has changed my life.”

The health benefits have been tenfold for the asthmatic. “My asthma has improved a lot,” she said.

“I couldn’t even exercise for 15 minutes but now I can do an hour a day without struggling or being out of breath.” The free programme runs every week at the Link Centre, Park South Community Centre, Croft Sports Centre and Pinetrees Community Centre. To find out more contact Debbie Mitchell at adultweightmanagement@swindon.gov.uk or on 01793 864934.