WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2017
“I started piling on weight when I reached my teens. At 13 I weighed 13 stones and at 14 I weighed 14 stones.
I had a big group of friends who were much slimmer than me and I tried hard to pretend I wasn’t bothered.
When I was 18 I went to university and would have KFC for lunch, sausage rolls and donuts from Greggs as a snack and a huge portion of chicken and rice for dinner, followed by sweets and crisps. I was always eating and didn’t bother with diets. I just thought I was big boned and that was the way I was meant to be.
My arms were absolutely huge and I hated getting them out. You would never see me in a strappy top or a short sleeve top without a cardigan or a kimono to cover up. I missed endless family barbecues and outdoor events with my friends because I didn’t feel comfortable. Sometimes I’d cry myself to sleep at night, wishing I could wake up slim.
When I graduated I became a teaching assistant. My classroom was at the top of several flights of stairs and I would be sweaty, out of breath and exhausted by the time I reached it. I was tempted to ask if I could move to a ground floor classroom but was too ashamed.
I loved my job but felt unconfident. The kids I taught were great, but I was convinced they were all thinking: ‘How will she be able to get us through our exams when she is such a mess?’
On my 26th birthday, I wore a tight pink dress. It clung to every roll and I winced when I saw the pictures.
My friend had told me she had lost five stones with Cambridge Weight Plan and she looked incredible. She gave me the number of her Consultant and I kept it in my purse not thinking I’d ever use it. Diets weren’t for me.
But not long after, I was in the car with my friend with a takeaway KFC and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts on my knee that we were going to share.
Glancing up, I caught sight of my reflection in the window and was horrified at what I saw. I was enormous.
‘This needs to stop’, I thought to myself.
Remembering the number I had in my purse for Cambridge Weight Plan, I gave the Consultant, Liza Harding-Buck, a call. She was so positive, but even after a meeting with her in October 2015, I was still not convinced it was something that could work for me.
But I went away, determined to give it 100 per cent. And to keep me accountable I even told my form group that I was losing weight.
‘I want to lose five stones . . . write down your goals and every week we’ll check in with each other and see how we’re doing with them,’ I said.
I was sure they thought I wouldn’t do it. But every Monday morning I would go into school and tell them how many pounds I’d lost and we’d look at how their goals were going. It really spurred them on.
In five months I’d lost five stone, so pushed myself to lose a further two. By the time my 27th birthday came round, I’d lost seven stone and was wearing a size 14 dress. I felt incredible! My students were so proud of me too.
We were in this together and I set them higher and higher targets to achieve as my confidence was soaring and this impacted my ability to teach. This year my kids got more than 76 per cent grade A-C, whereas across the school the other subjects got 35 per cent. We celebrated our hard work and what that had given us together
Recently I went back to a school where I used to teach and none of the students recognised me. ‘Miss, where have you gone?!’ they all said. It was a brilliant feeling.
I also have a great new job due to my new-found confidence, which is a big promotion on the leadership team.
I am so much more confident with my body and still getting used to the realisation that I no longer need to pick up size 20 clothes at the back of the rack or head to the plus size section of a store.
I'm doing photo shoots and have inspired my family to lose weight too. My mum, sister and aunt have lost 10 stones between them on plan and we are fighting fit. I recently became a Consultant and have seen 20 clients in six weeks. I've set that goal to 50. I want everyone to feel the way I do.
The new me is here to stay and I often have to pinch myself from time to time to check I’m not dreaming.”
Rate: 12 months *The weight lost and/or timeframes are particular to this slimmer. Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique to them.
Man of the Year 2017