Islington People: Super slimmer Alicia drops four dress sizes

This time last year Alicia Coote weighed 19st 11lb and her confidence hit rock bottom as years of bullying and a string of setbacks took their toll.

But life couldn’t be more different now for the 26-year-old, of Charteris Road, Finsbury Park, who has shed five stone and gone from a size 24 to 16, thanks to a new eating and exercise regime.

Alicia says her weight spiralled out of control at school

“I was shy and very quiet. I got shy because I was big, and then the bigger I got the more shy I was.

“The bullies saw me as a target. It wasn’t physical, but it was name calling. I would walk in a room and they would be talking about me. It was constant until I left school at the age of 16, by which time I weighed 16 stone.”

The vicious cycle of overeating and self-hatred continued and aged 19 she was diagnosed with polytheistic ovaries syndrome, which can contribute to weight gain.

She had tried numerous diets without success but it was seeing an unflattering photo of herself on Facebook last November that proved to be the turning point.

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“It had got to a stage where I was either going to ask for a gastric band or try Slimming World,” she said. “I never went out as I didn’t think I belonged and could never find anything to wear.

“My friends stopped asking me to things. I was lonely. I lived in black and didn’t own anything of colour.

“I was always down about myself and used to not apply for jobs because I thought I was too fat. Being big was an excuse for everything which, looking back, it probably was, because it had sucked all the confidence out of me.”

But Alicia has won woman of the year in her group at Slimming World, Finsbury Park and is in the running for Miss Slinky. She said she could not have done it without the help and support of her consultant Kelli Marshall and new friends at the group.

“Now my life is completely different. I’ve got a lot more confidence and am taking risks in life, such as applying for jobs even if I don’t think I stand any chance of getting them.

“I love the gym and I can shop in the same places as my friends and not feel like I shouldn’t be there.”