A Barnoldswick ex-tutor and learner support assistant has switched her lesson planning for recipe cards after being approached by Slimming World to relaunch one of its local weight-loss groups.
Mum of three Andrea Watson (48) shed three-and-a-half stones herself and is now full of confidence.
She cannot wait to get started in her new role after struggling with her weight since childhood, being bullied at school and even suffering physical violence because of her size.
Andrea, who lives in Taylor Street, said: “At school, I was never the clever one, nor the pretty one . Rather I was the girl who was always bunking off and hiding myself away in my bedroom.
“I simply hated school. I was teased and bullied, and on one occasion a girl in my class hit me so hard she broke my nose, which made me even more withdrawn.
“I felt so worthless; I couldn’t see a way out. Food became my best friend, the weight piled on, and I’ve struggled with it all my adult life.”
The final straw for Andrea came a couple of years ago when she was on a holiday with her husband.
Andrea said: “We had a chance to have a go on a zip wire experience. I was really excited, but because of my size I didn’t fit into the regular harness and was separated from my husband and told to join a different queue with all the other overweight people. I was so embarrassed and upset – people seemed to be sniggering at us – it was just awful.
“While in that ‘queue of shame’ I made a promise to myself that the minute I got back to the UK, I was going to do something about my weight.”
After seeing an advert for Slimming World, Andrea plucked up the courage to go along and join.
Andrea recalls: “I was terrified. Terrified my weight would be announced out loud and that there’d be people there who knew me.
“However, it was nothing like that. The consultant was so lovely and reassuring and I made two new friends on the first night.
“It was so good to know that there were people there just like me, who knew what it felt like to be overweight. There was no humiliation and I knew I’d made the right decision to join.”
Andrea’s new found confidence has enabled her to take up walking and cycling, and she can still enjoy her favourite foods. She has even signed herself up for Go Ape’s Tree Top Adventure, adding: “And I didn’t need a larger harness this time. Boy did that feel good!”
Tomorrow at 5-30pm, Andrea will relaunch the group held at Rolls-Royce Social Club in Skipton Road, Barnoldswick, and would love to people to along to help her celebrate. Feel free to contact her on 07780 442893 or watson firstname.lastname@example.org.