Belinda is Australia's biggest loser

TWEED teacher Belinda Keen is officially the country's biggest loser -- of weight.

Ms Keen this week was crowned Slimmer of the Year by national magazine Slimming and Health after shedding a whopping 85kg in 18 months.

And the 33-year-old did it all the old-fashioned way, with a strict diet and rigorous exercise work-outs.

"It was a shock to hear that I won. It was just amazing," Miss Keen said.

"When I started on this journey I was just trying to better myself and did not expect this recognition at the end."

Ms Keen, 33, who spent the last 18 months shedding a remarkable 85kg through strict diet and rigorous exercise, was rewarded for her hard work on Monday when she was named the Slimmer of the Year for national magazine Slimming & Health.

The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar junior school teacher is now a shadow of her former self: a size 10 weighing only 67kg down from her former size-26, 152kg figure.

More than 200 people applied to enter the contest.

Miss Keen was narrowed down to the top four before being unveiled as the winner in Sydney at a special lunch. For winning she will appear on the cover of the October issue of Slimming & Health, receive a seven-day trip to a health and spa resort on the Sunshine Coast and become a regular columnist in the magazine.

"I'm really looking forward to contributing to the magazine. I've always loved writing," she said.

"I want to help people who are going through their own weight loss."

Miss Keen's win attracted media attention around Australia. On Monday morning she appeared with the three other finalists on Channel Nine's Mornings with Kerri-Anne and is this week scheduled to appear on TV9's A Current Affair.

"When I came back to school the kids were all so happy to see me," Miss Keen said.

"They said I looked beautiful on TV and they were proud of me. I was dreading telling them about it if I didn't win. I think they would have been the most upset."

Miss Keen, from Labrador, said she decided to change her lifestyle 18 months ago after being fed up with "missing out on life".

"Right now I am so much happier than I ever have been. I never knew how unhappy I was before this."

She now vows to keep her health and fitness regime up.

"I want to keep going to the gym and eating right to maintain my weight and even tone up a bit now," she said.

"Most importantly I want love the life I have always wanted."

Slimming & Health editor Kate Fitzpatrick said Miss Keen's story of determination, strength and inspiration won her the title.

"Belinda's story struck a chord, not just because she lost a massive 85kg, but because she is using her story to inspire the primary school children she teaches," Ms Fitz-patrick said.



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