SHEFFIELD Hallam University lecturer Alison Purvis-Gisborne was embarrassed to teach others about sports and exercise when she weighed nearly 20 stone.
But now she is proudly in the running for this year’s London Marathon after shedding nearly half her body weight in just 14 months.
“I feel transformed,” admitted Alison, aged 36, of Dronfield – who has double cause for celebration after being named Online Slimmer of the Year by fitness guru Rosemary Conley.
Alison had always struggled with her weight and the problem was compounded by her love of ice cream, pizza and chocolate biscuits.
“In the past five years it really started to pile on,” she said. “Weighing 20st and lecturing others on how the human body responds to exercise really made me feel embarrassed... and I was comfort eating because I felt bad about being overweight.”
It took a health scare to jolt Alison into changing her lifestyle.
“I was horrified to discover how high my blood pressure was and realised I had to change to protect my health before it was too late.”
Other weight-loss groups had been unsuccessful for her, but in the autumn of 2010 she signed up with Rosemary Conley’s online slimming club – and shed 1st 4lb in the first month.
She combined a low fat diet with an exercise regime, starting with walking and using the Wii Fit, then running for ten minutes three times a week, and gradually building up as she became fitter.
These days she runs five days a week, covering up to 25 miles, and is thrilled to be training for her first marathon in April.
She has also lost nine stone in weight and dropped from dress size 24 to size 12.
“My blood pressure is now at a healthy level but the biggest reward is knowing I now practise what I preach to my students, who now tell me how fantastic I look,” said Alison.
Her determination has been rewarded with the Rosemary Conley award and £1,000 in cash, presented at a ceremony in London on Wednesday.
“Losing the weight is a massive prize in itself, but it’s really nice to have the title,” she said.ww