Abby Smeaton's smile is infectious and her laugh comes easily.

She is the new Weight Watchers coach for Whanganui.

The 31-year-old mum of three children under 5 who lives in Bulls has lost 42kg since February. She is very proud and stunned that once she decided her weight of 118kg was impeding her and her quality of life she did something about it.

A photograph taken on a family holiday last Christmas horrified her.


"It looked like someone else. It was hard to believe it was me."

She took to her decision to lose weight with a vengeance.

"I went on the internet, really liked the Weight Watchers programme Your Way and signed up then and there."

Abby now weighs 76kg and hasn't faltered.

"I can't believe I used to hide from the kids and eat a big block of chocolate every day, believing it was great stress relief. Amazing what you tell yourself."

Abby's household this week was like a small cottage industry.

"Its always like this. We're a bit of a madhouse. It doesn't get quiet until 7pm, the kids' bedtime."

Delicious cooking smells swirled from the stovetop and the oven. Baby Ollie was in his high chair grinning as he munched tiny crustless Marmite sammies. Three-year-old sister Maddie was concentrating on her new game. Four-year-old brother Xavier was at kindy for the afternoon. Abby was busy cooking for friends down the road who were renovating their house.

"They have little kids, so not having to cook dinner will help them."

She was also baking banana bread for another friend in Feilding who had a new baby. In a large crate near the laundry, her beloved chihuahua, Poppy, sat proudly watching while her three puppies snored gently in a corner. In the backyard were three pet bunnies and couple of chooks.

"We've got it all," she smiled.

She is excited to be selected as the new coach for Whanganui.

"I'm actually the second coach, because the Wednesday night class has 50 people, which is capacity, so I'm starting the new Saturday morning class."

What she loved about the programme, apart from learning about the food choices, was getting into a regime.

"I would have never have thought in my life that I would ever start running. I didn't know I could run."

The three goals in the programme are based on "food, fit and feel".

"You get the first two under way and the third one comes naturally. I feel great."

Running meant starting with 60 second laps.

"So it was running 60 seconds to the first lamp post, walking to the next lamp post doing that for 25 minutes. Then doing 90-second laps and now I'm actually running 10km all the way."

Once you get accustomed to that regular run it comes easily, she said.

"If you miss, it's like something has gone from your life. You don't feel quite as good."

Experimenting with food has fascinated her, and she is posting her low-calorie recipes on her Facebook page. Recipes like cheat's lasagne, low-cal cheesecake and a cordon bleu chicken made with light cheese slices.

"You actually fall in love with food again. I have."

And getting in touch with your body is wonderful.

"I had no fitness level at all, and certainly not a fitness lifestyle. But once you make a plan and get off the couch it really all falls into place, especially when you're getting help and encouragement every week at the meetings."

Abby laughs when she says she forced her Mum to go with her to her first meeting and she (Mum) ended up losing 20kg.

"She didn't try that hard, either."

At 9am on Saturday at in the Christ Church hall in Wicksteed St, Whanganui, Abby takes her first Weight Watchers group.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people who have the same goal I had when I started.

"It's exciting, a challenge and a new style of life."