A WOMAN who has lost 18 stone in weight has described the "transformative" effect the change has had on her life.

Gemma Brockway weighed 30 st 10lb in November 2015 when she decided to begin her life-changing journey.

Now Gemma, 31, who is 12st 10lb after having a gastric bypass, says she feels she is "living her life instead of just existing".

Gemma, from Whiston, recalls the day, on November 5, 2015, she vowed to undertake the weight loss.

"I was in a volatile relationship and woke up one morning and wasn't in a good place," she said.

"So I went to see the doctor and he told me about weight loss surgery but said that I'd have to do a weight loss programme for a year before considering me for surgery, so I did that."

In this 12 months Gemma saw a dietician weekly, did circuit training and aerobics and managed to lose five and a half stone by October 2016, when she was accepted for surgery.

Gemma had the surgery on November 21, 2016 at Aintree Hospital, spending the next month on liquids and then 'baby-style' food with a three to four-month period until she could eat regular food.

St Helens Star:

Gemma on the morning of her surgery

She says that to the present day she eats "child size" portions, never feels hungry since the surgery and takes 16 tablets a day for life.

Gemma, who works as a medical lab assistant at Whiston Hospital, hopes to be accepted for a Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty ('tummy tuck') which would see her lose around another stone and a half.

Gemma has described the life-changing effects her journey has had.

"I have got lots more energy, I can walk around without getting out of breath or my back hurting," she added.

"When I take my nieces out I play in the park with them whereas I couldn't before. I sit on the floor with them and easily get back up and one of the big things is going into the pub and not worrying whether any chairs have got arms on.

"And just being able to go on a normal shop and buy clothes. I am getting a lot more confidence as well, slowly.

"It has had such a transformative effect."

St Helens Star:

Gemma Brockway

Gemma has even set up a bariatric support group online to help others going through a similar journey.

She says lots of people have told told her she has "inspired them" to go for surgery and that it has "changed their life".

Gemma says her advice to anyone considering undertaking surgery should "research it fully" and seek the opinion of a practitioner.

"It's the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and it is not a quick fix. It is a lifelong thing because it can't be reversed.

"I have literally no regrets from having it because I'm now living my life instead of just existing.

"I enjoy going out whereas before I didn't."

Gemma also credits the support of family and friends with helping her through her journey, and in particular sister Joanne, brother-in-law Christopher and her mum Sylvia and dad Stephen.