A student who was so fat she couldn’t climb the stairs to her lectures is top of the class after shedding 10 stone — to become a COOKERY teacher.
Lesley Ballantyne, 21, learned about nutrition by day but went home to gorge on kebabs, chips, pizza, fizzy drinks and chocolate cake.
She ballooned to 23 stone and was nearly thrown out for being repeatedly late because she struggled to get upstairs for classes.
But now – after slimming down to 13 stone and dropping from a size 26 to a 14 – she’s in a class of her own as a trainee home economics teacher.
Lesley said yesterday (Tues): “I didn’t even know what a vegetable was – and thinking back, it was disgusting.
“I was about to be thrown out of university because I couldn’t get to my classes. The walking was just too much – I couldn’t cope with climbing the stairs.
“I would gorge fatty foods on a daily basis without care. I knew I was putting on weight, but I didn’t want to think about it.”
Lesley’s weight shot up while she was studying home economics at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.
She became “addicted” to fatty cheese and gorged on junk food and family size chocolate bars.
As she piled on the weight, she became depressed, sleeping up to 15 hours a day and nodding off during lectures.
She had to wear flat shoes on nights out and was tormented by cruel comments from bullies.
Lesley realised she had to slim down when she was forced to ask for a seatbelt extension on a flight when going on holiday.
She visited her GP in January 2011 after feeling ill and was told by doctors the fat around her organs was endangering her health.
The pounds started dropping off when she swapped her high calorie snacks for healthy meals like porridge and stir fries.
Lesley, originally from Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, added: “The shock jolted me into finally doing something.
“I started gradually, by going on a diet – and eventually began going to the gym, which helped a lot.
“For breakfast I have porridge with semi-skimmed milk and raisins, for lunch it’s couscous with mushrooms followed by fruit, and for dinner I’ll have a stir-fry – without the noodles.
“I no longer eat cheese and only have bread once a week.
“In a normal exercising session, I use the crosstrainer for half-an-hour then hit the exercise bike for 10 minutes before finishing off with rowing and running.
“It’s amazing – I couldn’t even picture myself walking on a treadmill before.”
Lesley told how her life has been turned around after shedding her surplus weight.
She has undergone her first successful spell as a cookery teacher in a 10-week placement at Baldragon Academy in Dundee.
Lesley is now in the final year of her degree in food and consumer science at the University of Abertay in Dundee and will then go on to teacher training.
She said: “I’m happier, healthier and more confident. All my problems were a direct consequence of my weight.
“I’m training to be a home economics teacher. I’ve got so much more confidence and enthusiasm about life now.
“I used to fall asleep during my lectures because I was so unhealthy but I’m able to concentrate on my grades now.
“I still have takeaways and chocolate, but just not as much. Everything in moderation.
“My diet isn’t as intense as it was before, there’s no need for it to be – I’m definitely continuing it, though.
“I can wear any dress or outfit I want now. It’s amazing.”