A west Cumbrian mother-of-two has opened up on her incredible weight loss journey and how a serious stroke nearly ended her life. 

After realising that she needed to lose weight and look after her long term health, Gillian Robertson from Whitehaven lost eight stone over three years of hard work and determination.

Despite getting herself back in to shape, Gillian suffered a stroke nearly two years ago that threatened to turn her life upside down when she least expected it.

"I had just been shopping with my mum. I came out of my mum's house, started my car and it just hit there and then," said Gillian, 38.

"Luckily I hadn't pulled off, but I had started the car.

"It was like an out of body experience.

"The left side of my face had dropped, and I thought 'I need to get out of this car', but I physically couldn't move.

"It was almost like I was stood on the outside of the car looking in, telling myself 'get out of this car'.

"If I get off my mum's road there's a really big hill, and I honestly think that had I been on that hill I would not be here today because I wouldn't have been able to control that car."

Exercise had become a big part of Gillian's life after dedicating years of work to keeping herself fit and healthy through diet plans, motivation from her family and her own workouts.

The very real prospect of not being able to speak again "petrified"Gillian, but she said the prospect of potentially not being able to exercise again was devastating.

She added: "It was horrendous because being active and fit is my happy place. It's my way of going away, zoning out from the world and just being in my own head.

"The thought of not being able to be in a position where I can get on a treadmill or lift weights devastated me.

"I've never been someone who would use the word 'depressing', but I was getting that way, to the point where I would just sit and cry.

"It took a while. It took my family and close friends to say 'no, you can do this.'

"Even walking around a supermarket, my leg would give way and I'd be devastated. I'd be embarrassed.

Things are better for Gillian now, who works as a customer success manager at Xtreme Fitness in Workington.

Helping others who were once in a similar position to her and who find the gym a daunting prospect has given Gillian a new lease of life, and she said making gyms comfortable places to visit is vital to encouraging healthy living.

She said:"I feel like I've got a bit of me back.

"I know my limits now and I just tailor everything to my ability.

"I love coming to work and I love speaking to people. The fact that I can now help other people on their journey is quite a nice feeling.

"I get more enjoyment knowing I can help others than I got when I was helping myself.

"When you're helping others and you're seeing them become more comfortable in their skin and more confident in themselves, its a personal achievement for them and myself.

"The one thing about Xtreme is that everybody is welcome, no matter what their shape, size, or age.

"Just making that first contact, or stepping foot in that gym - you've made the first steps to your change, and you should just be proud to make that step."

For more information on strokes, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/, or for stoke support visit www.stroke.org.uk/.