18 months ago Harriet Jenkins, 25, weighed 364 lbs (165 kg). But a lot has changed since then. Harriet has joined a slimming group and 18 months later she lost 10 dress sizes. She has reached 161 lbs (73 kg), perfect weight for her 5ft 8in height. Harriet got the teaching job she dreamed about, and was named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year.
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 settled for a job in a call centre, where boredom and depression saw her eating endless sweets and chocolate at her desk.
She had always dreamed of becoming a teacher. But weighing more than 26st and wearing size 30 clothes, Harriet Jenkins knew she would be taunted by pupils
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.
Once she started to lose weight she began to exercise, taking short walks at first, before joining a gym and now she runs regularly.
Last month she ran the Great South Run in her dad’s memory for child bereavement charity Simon Says.
Miss Jenkins has since completed her teacher training and started a teaching job with her own class of nine and ten-year-olds.
As my confidence grew I started going out with my friends more. But the greatest achievement was standing up in front of a class of children.
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.
‘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.’