By Daily Mail Reporter
Half the woman she used to be: Tracey Stone, 35, with a pair of size 24 trousers that she wore when she was at her biggest
An receptionist at a bank has lost more than eight stone after conquering a bizarre phobia – of sweat.
Tracey Stone, 35, walked less than three miles per year and 'freaked out' at the mere thought of exercise because of the irrational fear.
The phobia, which she developed in childhood, meant she piled on the pounds and it left her with 'zero' self-esteem.
At her heaviest, she tipped the scales at 19 stone and consumed 5,000 calories per day – more than double the recommended daily amount.
But in early 2010 Tracey overcame her 'nemesis' thanks to a course of hypnotherapy. At her biggest, she was a size 24, but she has now dropped from a size 18 to a size 12.
Tracey, who lives in Bristol, now weighs in at just 11 stone and controls her weight through gentle exercise and slimming aids.
She said: 'I’ve had a fear of excessive sweating since I was at school. It got to the point where I was literally not walking anyway through fear of breaking sweat. I freaked out at the thought of going to the gym.
'But now I feel happier and healthier after finally overcoming the nemesis that had haunted me for so long.'
The phobia of excessive sweating, hypothermosis, affects up to 1-in-200,000 people across the UK.
It is linked to social anxiety, and is often coupled with uncontrollable blushing and panic attacks.
Like many sufferers, Tracey is unable to pinpoint why and when the phobia took hold.
But it left her fearful of breaking sweat and 'scared stiff' of exercise of any kind.
For over a decade, she drove everywhere and believes she walked less than three miles each year.
'I drove to the shops, I drove to work, and I even drove to the beach,' she said.
'On a night out, I’d take taxis from my front door to the pub or bar, and I’d spend all night in one place to be sure I wouldn’t have to walk.'
Thanks to a lack of exercise and a junk food diet, she ballooned in size and reached a massive 18 stone by the age of 28.
But she beat the phobia after seeing a local counsellor and hypnotist. She spent a total of six hours in the chair, and now believes she is 'almost entirely' cured.
Though not ready to jog, run or go to the gym, she has begun walking the 2.3 miles from her home to work each day.
She also takes the slimming aid Vita-Lean – a hit in the States and soon to be available in Boots - to control her weight gain.
The slimming aid’s appeal in America followed comments made by Dr Oz, the resident doctor on the Oprah Winfrey Show, who praised the benefits of irvingia.
You WILL cure your phobia: Tracey beat her fear after seeing a local counsellor and hypnotist. She spent a total of six hours in the chair, and now believes she is 'almost entirely' cured (posed by model)
'I’ve still a long way to go, but I feel better than ever,' Tracey said.
Phobia expert Mary Ison, who runs the Clifton Counselling Clinic in Bristol, said Tracey’s behaviour was not unusual.
'Many phobias have roots in fears that date back hundreds of years, sweat possibly being the fear of disease,' she said.
'Through support and the right therapy many people are able to manage or even overcome their phobias.
'The most important thing is that Tracey takes each step one at a time and perseveres with her treatment.'