A Halifax PE teacher who lost nearly 8st to achieve her childhood dream job has won a national slimming award.
Weighing more than 19st and struggling to walk far without getting out of breath, Amy Richardson felt her ambitions of an active career were slipping away.
But after joining her local Slimming World group she lost 7st 11lbs, dropped from a size 24 to a 12 and bagged her dream job. Now she’s making her students at Halifax High proud after being named Slimming World’s Miss Slinky 2014.
“I felt like a fraud,” says Amy, now 29. “I was doing sports development at university, yet I found it difficult to climb the two flights of stairs to my lectures and had to wear men’s sportswear because of my size. I couldn’t imagine any school wanting to employ an overweight PE teacher and I knew I needed to do something.”
Amy, from Mirfield, describes herself as a ‘chubby child’ and says she often felt self-conscious when wearing a leotard to enjoy her hobby of trampolining.
However, it was while studying at university that her weight began to impact on her everyday life.
She says: “It was the first time I’d lived away from home, I was eating all the wrong things and going out with my friends most nights. At the time I didn’t think about what I was eating and drinking at all but looking back it’s no wonder my weight went up to more than 19 stone. My joints ached, I got out of breath easily and I lost all my confidence – on nights out I’d just sit in the corner while all my friends were on the dance floor.”
In early 2005 Amy’s mum Lynne joined her local Slimming World group, but it wasn’t until September that year when one of Amy’s friends suggested they sign up too that Amy felt brave enough to give it a go. Within five weeks she’d lost a stone, less than three years later she was 5st lighter, and today – after having her little girl – she’s lost a total of 7st 11½lbs, dropping from 19st 2lbs to 11st 4½lbs.
Amy followed the club’s food optimising plan and was immediately surprised at how well she could fit healthy eating into her life, even at university.
She started making Slimming World recipes and swapped her regular takeaways and convenience foods for quick and easy meals that she cooked from scratch, like home-made burgers made with extra-lean mince with healthy chips baked in the oven and jacket potatoes with baked beans and salad. She says: “I taught myself how to cook lots of healthy meals and found things that I’d thought were bland before tasted so much better when I made them myself. I could still have treats like chocolate or alcohol too, so I didn’t have to miss out on nights out and lots of my friends didn’t even realise I was slimming.”
She adds: “Before I went to the group I was scared, I worried what people would think of me and thought I might be the biggest person there. After a few weeks I saw how well it worked – I was even the ‘Slimmer of the Month’ – and I was hooked. The group was so friendly and I realised everyone was in the same boat so no one judged you.”
As the weight came off Amy’s energy and fitness levels improved, and her confidence increased too. By the time she left university and successfully applied for her first job as a PE teacher in 2008 she was 5st slimmer. She says: “I couldn’t believe I’d achieved my dream and had the job I’d always wanted. There’s no way I’d have been able to this job at 19st – at least not well – but now I can keep up with the kids, demonstrate things I want them to do, and I don’t have to worry about my size at all. I’ve lost another 2st 11½lbs since I’ve been at the school and I think it’s good for my students to see that I haven’t followed some silly fad diet, I’ve lost weight sensibly and kept it off.”
Amy, who lives with fiancé Chris and their 17-month-old daughter Emily, has continued to attend her Slimming World group every week – even while she was pregnant with Emily.
She says: “I always joke that I’ve taken the scenic route on my weight-loss journey. Right from the start I was determined that I didn’t want a quick fix, I wanted to make a change for life, and I know I’ve definitely done that. I’ve never felt like I was missing out and eating healthily and being active are just part of my life now. I know I’ll be able to pass everything Slimming World’s taught me on to Emily so she’ll never have to struggle with her weight like I did, which is an amazing feeling.
“I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t found Slimming World, but it’s hard to believe I’d be as happy as I am today – I’ve got the figure I always wanted, my dream job, the perfect fiancé and a beautiful baby girl! Being named Slimming World’s Miss Slinky 2014 is just the icing on the cake.”