How a teacher found a new zest for life and energy after losing more than four ...

AmyAmy won Slimming World’s Miss Slinky 2020 and says she feels so much happier in her own skin (Image: Slimming World)

Usually, I'd go on a crash diet before a holiday, regaining any weight I lost afterwards. This time, though, knowing I'd be able to wrap myself up warmly for most of the holiday, I didn't put myself through that misery. When we got to the lagoon, I changed into my swimming costume and thanked the lady who handed me a towelling robe. Then I saw the label: she'd given me an XXL! I tried to hide how I felt as I didn't want to spoil the day for Jonathan, but he could tell I wasn't my usual, bubbly self. "How come you don't want me to take any pictures?" he asked, confused. "My size is getting me down," I mumbled.

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He always told me I was gorgeous no matter what, but he could see how upset I was and promised to help me lose weight when we got home, if that was what I wanted. My first thought was exercise, so a week after we got back, I went to a spinning class, and was so exhausted I left the one-hour session after 20 minutes on the bike.

Growing up, I'd been slim and active, going to dance and theatre school with two of my sisters, Laura and Louise. We'd put on performances for Mum and Dad, showing off our tap, ballet and jazz routines. The three of us looked so similar, even our grandparents mixed us up! So, when my dress size began creeping up as I settled into my relationship with Jonathan, I couldn't help comparing myself to them. Jonathan and I ate out a lot, and I'd have bruschetta, lasagne with garlic bread, then cheesecake - with glasses of Prosecco and rosé.

Before long, I was struggling to fit into my favourite jeans, while my active 6ft 4in boyfriend didn't seem to have gained a pound.

Before our first holiday together to New York, I ate nothing but plain chicken and rice for two months. I lost 1½st and it was torture! In America, I told myself I'd done the work and ate all the pizza, burgers, steak and chips, and cheesecake I wanted. Back home, I carried on eating whatever I fancied and within three months, I was heavier than before.

By now, Jonathan noticed he was gaining weight, too, and we kept saying we'd lose it together. "We'll start on Monday" became our motto.

After university, I went on to do teacher training. I loved working with kids, especially at the age when they were too old for nappies, but too young for teen hormones! Children can be brutally honest, though. On a placement, one little boy told me I was 'big like Mummy', and it hurt. He didn't mean to upset me, but I started to worry about going to job interviews in case they judged me by my size and thought I wouldn't be able to teach PE.

Amy on holiday in IcelandAmy made the decision on holiday in Iceland that she wanted to lose weight (Image: Slimming World)

My older sister, Faye, had a toddler and a new baby, and not long after my trip to Iceland she told me she was joining Slimming World. "Will you come for moral support?" she asked. I was sure she was thinking more about me than herself, but didn't want to hurt my feelings, and I found myself saying: "OK then".

My sister, Laura, would be turning 21 in February 2019, a month after Faye and I joined Slimming World, and as she made her plans, part of me didn't want to go. She was having a big family meal, followed by a night out with her slim friends, and all my nice clothes were still far too small for me.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed making recipes from scratch. And we began experimenting with new things, such as making burgers using lean mince. At first, I'd cook enough at night for lunch the next day, then after a while I mixed it up with tuna or salmon

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