By TONI JONES
A mother-of-three from Essex is celebrating hitting the shops for the first time in 15 years - after shedding over nine stone.
Charlene Cush, 31, tipped the scales at almost 20 stone last year - and was so large the only clothes she could fit in were men's XXXXL jogging bottoms.
Brunette Charlene hadn't worn a dress since she was a schoolgirl and gave up buying women's clothes when she struggled to squeeze into a size 24 but after discovering her teenage daughter was being taunted by bullies because of her size, Charlene, from Waltham Abbey, was shocked into changing her lifestyle.
After embarking on a rigorous diet and exercise regime, she has lost almost half her body weight - and now weighs just over 10 stone.
And now for the first time ever size 12 Charlene has been able to hit the January sales with confidence and choose all the glamorous clothes she likes.
Charlene said: 'It was mental torture for me seeing all my friends going shopping and wearing gorgeous clothes they'd bought.
'I was stuck in the sports shops and I never dreamed in a million years I'd ever be able to shop in all the shops they did.
'Now I've lost the weight it's opened up a whole new world for me - I keep bursting into tears of joy in changing rooms.
'The shop assistants must think I'm nuts but I'm just so happy I can wear the clothes I'd always wanted to.'
Charlene started to gain weight after giving birth to her daughter, Jacey, when she was 18.
As a busy new mother, with little time to cook herself healthy meals, the pounds started to pile on - and after having her second child, Tylee, in 2007, her waistline kept expanding.
By the time she gave birth to baby Shayla, now two, she was struggling to fit in a size 24.
Charlene said: 'I am a busy mum, and for 15 years, watching what I was eating was the last thing on my mind.
'I was always running around all over the place, and I was so busy all day I'd rarely eat breakfast or lunch - and just pick bits of the children's dinner.
'But once I'd got them to bed at night I'd just head straight to the kitchen cupboard and fill my pockets with biscuits - then collapse onto the sofa and sit and eat for hours without thinking.