Harriet sheds half her body weight
A woman who lost more than half her body weight spoke of her pride at becoming a teacher as she was crowned slimmer of the year.
Harriet Jenkins, 25, shed a whopping 15st and dropped from a dress size 30 to 10 to be named Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2010.
Miss Jenkins, who at her heaviest tipped the scales at 26st 7.5lbs, lost the pounds over 18 months through healthy eating and exercise and without the aid of a gastric band or bypass.
She said: "My life's completely different now and I've achieved things I thought I never would, like getting my dream job as a teacher.
"But it's not just because I look different and weigh less, it's also because I'm more confident and finally happy with who I am. I'm so proud of myself for taking control of my life and I don't think I'd feel the same way if I'd had an operation that forced me to change."
She added: "I want people to know that even if you've got a huge amount of weight to lose, having gastric surgery isn't the only answer."
Miss Jenkins, from Southampton, was overweight from childhood, but put on the pounds after her dad John was diagnosed with a fatal liver disease in July 2002. When her father died in Spring 2003, her comfort eating continued and by the age of 18 she weighed more than 18st.
She went to Nottingham University to study French, but says she kept herself to herself. By the time she finished her studies in 2008, Miss Jenkins was a size 30 and struggled to find smart clothes for job interviews.
She settled for a job in a call centre, where boredom and depression saw her eating endless sweets and chocolate at her desk. It was a friend who set her on the weight loss path by inviting her to a Slimming World group, where she discovered she was 6st more than she thought after years of avoiding the scales.
Miss Jenkins began following the club's Food Optimising eating plan, swapping her diet of ready meals, fast food and chocolate for healthy, home-cooked meals with fresh meat, fish and fruit and vegetables. She lost 8lbs in her first week and within a month she had dropped 1.5st and two dress sizes. She has since completed her teacher training and started a teaching job with a class of nine and ten-year-olds.