Occupational therapist Imogen Perry tells HILARIE STELFOX why she started practising what she preached and dropped four dress sizes, as well as finally heading for the beach with her surfboard
‘I always carried all my weight around my middle and I’ve had people in the past asking me when I was expecting.’
PART of Imogen Perry’s job as an occupational therapist is to offer advice on healthy living to her patients.
But when she started work at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, weighing in at an unhealthy 13st 10lbs and a size 18, she worried that no-one would take her seriously.
“A lot of what I do is encouraging people to have a healthy lifestyle and yet I used to feel embarrassed talking about it, particularly to the dieticians,’’ said Imogen (23).
“I would try to skirt around the subject because who would listen to advice on healthy eating and living from someone who had a weight problem themselves.’’
However, those days are gone and, after taking dietary advice of her own, she’s dropped four dress sizes and now practices what she preaches.
Imogen, who lives in Elland, has even acquired a second job – as a consultant for the Slimming World club where she lost her weight.
At only 22-years-old Imogen says she could see where her over-eating was leading.
Although her mum and two sisters are slim and able to eat what they want, her dad puts weight on easily.
“Everyone on my dad’s side is large. I was overweight from the age of 10, which became a problem at high school because I was picked on.
“I used to follow fad diets but I never wanted to miss out on anything that my sisters were eating.
“I’d have lots of chocolate bars and high calorie snacks and then meals,’’ said Imogen., who comes originally from Warrington.
By the time she was in the sixth form at school her size had ballooned to an 18, although she made a concerted effort to lose weight before starting university and managed to get down to a size 14/16.
Because her studies for an occupational therapy degree included healthy living Imogen says she knew where she was going wrong and should have known better.
But, in the end, she needed the guidance and encouragement from a Slimming World group in Warrington, where she desperately tried to shed the pounds before starting her first job at HRI.
“I was really terrified that they wouldn’t be able to find a uniform to fit me.”
In fact, by the time Imogen moved to Huddersfield, the weight had already started to melt away.
She joined the Lindley Slimming World group in September 2006 and by March this year had achieved her target.
“I didn’t pick a target weight, I said I wanted to be a size 12.
“In fact, I’m now a size 10 and I can even get into some size eight clothes, depending on where I shop,’’ explained Imogen.
She’s shed more than three stones in total and says that today she feels more confident, happy and healthier.
“I wouldn’t say that I’ve really made many major changes, I’ve just taken responsibility for what I’m eating and I think about it a lot more.
“I still go for nights out and I still have weeks when I put weight on. I just make healthier choices,’’ said Imogen.
One of her ambitions when she lost weight was to go surfing, something that she now does as often as she can.
In the past the thought of wearing a wet suit or bikini filled her with horror.
“I always carried all my weight around my middle and I’ve had people in the past asking me when I was expecting. I have so much more confidence now,’’ she explained.
So much confidence, in fact, that Imogen decided she wanted to take over the Lindley Slimming World Group, which meets at St Stephen’s Church on Tuesdays at 5pm.
Her dad has promised that he’ll drive from his place of work in Salford to attend her class.