More than 7 stone lost: I'm a different person

Sister and brother Laura Bracken and Eoin Horgan not only share the same birthday — they also share a determination to shift their excess weight. CHRIS DUNNE talks to the duo about their weight loss journey to date. She also catchs up with Ber Nash, of Dillon’s Cross. Collectively, the trio have lost 16 stone
More than 7 stone lost: I'm a different person
Eoin Horgan, who was 28 stone. In just 26 weeks he has lost 7 of the 12 stone that he wants to lose. His sister was the one who encouraged him to join Slimming World.

WHEN things go wrong, as they sometimes do, who are you going to call?

Well, big sisters are always handy to have on speed-dial.

“I often ring Laura all times of the day when I’m weighing portions of food, so that I get it exactly right,” says 25-year-old Eoin Horgan, who, together with his older sister, Laura, Joined Slimming World on June 7, 2018. “She is great with the kitchen scales,” he adds.

The pair have lost a massive 10 stone between them in 27 weeks, and still counting.

“Laura is the youngest of my older sisters, if you get me,” says Eoin, from Farranree.

He has been big since he was a child.

“I wasn’t sure if Slimming World would work for me,” he admits.

“I’ve been a big guy ever since I was a child. School wasn’t much fun for me. I’ve tried many ways to lose weight since my teens, but I always gave up. Not his time!”

Now Eoin, with the added support of his older sister, who is on her own weight loss journey, is going for gold, having gained his seven and half stone loss award at his last weigh-in at his local Slimming World group on Thursday.

“It’s onwards and upwards!” says Eoin, who is well on the road to ridding himself of the unwanted stones that marred his youth.

He has a wing-woman along the way.

“Laura is my buddy,” he says. “We started at the group together.”

Eoin has new-found confidence and new- found determination to rid himself of the weight that has held him back for most of his life.

“This time I was determined to make this my first real achievement in life.”

He has new found friends too.

“I’m the only man in the class!” says Eoin, laughing.

Now he is one of the gang.

“When I first met Eoin, he hadn’t much confidence,” says group leader, Ellen O’Keeffe.

“He didn’t make eye contact. I have a 24-year old-son, and I knew it was a big step for Eoin to join group. He has never looked back.”

Eoin, fuelled with a goal in mind and his sister by his side, took the first major step to a new, slim, healthy life, one that would bring opportunity and open up possibilities for the young man.

 Eoin, who was 28 stone. In just 26 weeks he has lost 7 of the 12 stone that he wants to lose.
 Eoin, who was 28 stone. In just 26 weeks he has lost 7 of the 12 stone that he wants to lose.

“At first, I was a bit daunted,” he admits. “Being the only man doesn’t faze me now.

“I’m a part of the whole group. Everyone welcome me. The members embraced me. And we all support each other’s successes and are so happy when we achieve every weight loss on the scales.”

Eoin was never happy in his own skin, damned by the weight that dictated his youth.

“In May, I had a realisation that I needed do something about my weight among other things,” says Eoin.

“So I decided to join Slimming World with my sister, Laura.”

He had just turned 25 and he weighed 28 stone.

“I saw the weight creep on as I grew older,” says Eoin.

“In my teens I noticed it. I tried to do something about it, but I didn’t have the right mindset.

“Takeaways were a lot of my problem. They are so convenient and there are so many of them around.”

Eoin piled on the stones, weighing in at 28 stone when he joined Slimming World.

“It’s something I’m not proud of,” he says. “But I am proud of something. That is how far I have already come. In just 26 weeks, I lost 7 of the 12 stone that I want to lose.”


“By sticking to the plan 100%,” says Eoin. “In that time I’ve had 25 losses and only one gain, which is another thing I’m really proud of. To date Laura and I are down over 10 stone between us.”

Life is looking up for Eoin.

“I enjoy things more,” he says. “I can get around more easily. I can run now! I couldn’t run or walk to places for years. I used to struggle to get around. I’m a different person now.” Not many years separate Laura, 33 and Eoin, 25, and the bond between the siblings is closer than friends. They even share the same birthday, May 24.

The pair champion each other as they turn up week after week to the group to chart their individual weight-loss success.

Laura Bracken, who has lost 2 stone 12 pounds, with just a little over 1 stone left to lose until she reaches her target.
Laura Bracken, who has lost 2 stone 12 pounds, with just a little over 1 stone left to lose until she reaches her target.

“At first I only joined Slimming World to support Eoin because he had always struggled with his weight since he was a child,” says Laura Bracken, who is a mother of three.

“So I wanted to be there for him. From the moment we walked into Ellen’s group I felt very welcome. It’s a lovely group and the support from everyone is still amazing.”

Laura, like Eoin, soon got into the social gathering every Thursday morning that encourages and supports its members.

“For me the extra weight I was carrying made even the little things difficult for me,” says Laura.

“I knew it was time I did something to sort it out and after a few weeks I realised that it was the beginning of a new me.”

The siblings share the same determined gene.

“I was finally doing it,” says Laura. “The one thing I’d been wanting to do for years.”

Laura had more than one supporter cheering her on: “I have massive support from my family, my husband and children, and also my consultant, Ellen. To date I’ve lost 2 stone 12 pounds.”

She has an important date coming up.

“Yes. My daughter, Danielle, aged seven, is making her First Communion in May. I’m going to wait until nearer the date to get a new dress for the occasion.”

Laura, like her younger brother, is well on track: “With just a little over a stone to go, I am in reach of my target,” she says. “I can finally say it. Target!”

Eoin has another target. And another phone call to make. “I’m going to challenge my nieces to a race!”

Fairhill/ Farranree Slimming World meets at Scoil Iosagain Boys Primary School in Knockpogue Avenue, Farranree every Wednesday at 5.30pm and 7.30pm and every Thursday at 9.3am and 11.30am.

For more about the group and Slimming World, call Ellen on 083-1122474 .


Ber Nash, after she lost six stone with Slimming World.
Ber Nash, after she lost six stone with Slimming World.

WE all get by with a little help from our friends.

And when Ber Nash from Dillon’s Cross, Cork, encountered a chance meeting with two of her pals, she was on the road to a whole new slim way of life.

“They forced me to go to Slimming World group with them!” says Ber, laughing.

She made another group of friends at group, where she was challenged and inspired to shed a massive six stone in a year, and in the process discovered a whole new world.

“I have way more energy now. That’s the one thing I notice the most since I lost six stone,” she says.

Ber likes her style.

“My biggest challenge was buying clothes when I was heavy,” she says.

“I could never find anything suitable, especially for a special occasion. I used to struggle to wear sizes 18 and 20, which was horrible.

“Now, my favourite thing is going on a shopping expedition to buy clothes, mostly size 12.”

Her pals, who suggested she join them at Slimming World, did her a great favour then?

“They sure did!” says Ber. “And I’m forever grateful to them!”

She wasn’t quite sure what she was signing up for.

“So I reluctantly went along to our group in Glen Rovers on January 17, 2017.

“I knew I had a weight problem, almost hitting 16 stone; I never did anything serious as my weight increased over the years. I had a few attempts at losing some weight, but I was only kidding myself. I just never seemed to lose it.”

And it was no joke that she is a chef by trade!

“Yes, cooking is my thing,” adds Ber, who has two teenage children.

“I was never into sweet things really, but I do love savoury food. Cheese, paté, crisps; they were my downfall.

“Fruit and vegetables were lacking a bit in my diet, and I was never great with salads. But then, I never tried them out much.

“Now, I buy in all the right ingredients when I’m grocery shopping to make healthy, satisfying meals for all the family.”

Ber doesn’t believe in diets; lifestyle change works better for successful long-term weight-loss.

“You don’t need to be a chef, you just need to have basic cop-on to change bad habits and replace old habits with new ones,” she says.

“I was never hungry on the Slimming World plan. There is so much variety and the ‘syns’ allocated on the programme provide an added bonus so you don’t feel deprived.”

Ber felt deprived of a slim, energetic life when she couldn’t seem to shed the weight after her babies were born.

“They were both big babies, nine pounders,” says Ber. “I couldn’t lose the weight after they arrived. Then, over the years my weight just went up and up.”

After shedding a whooping six stone, she is on the up and up in more ways than one.

“I lost nine pounds the first week I joined Slimming World,” says Ber.

“Before, I used to have pains in my joints, especially in my knees. Those problems were getting worse. Since I dropped the weight, the difference in my joints and energy has been amazing.”

Ber Nash said her weight crept up to 16 stone.
Ber Nash said her weight crept up to 16 stone.

Ber’s husband, Pat, thinks she is amazing.

“He joined the group too, for a while, but he didn’t stay the distance.”

But hasn’t he an expert, energetic chef producing simply delicious healthy meals from her domain in the kitchen?

“That is true!” says Ber. “Our favourite is a salmon fillet with soya sauce. When it is nearly cooked in the oven, I add onions, peppers, and spinach and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. It doesn’t look like gourmet food, but the combination is really tasty and so easy and fast to put together.

“I always say the Slimming World food plan is all about what you can eat. Not about what you can’t.”

Ber has a can-do attitude now.

“When my cousin was getting married last September, she asked me to be her maid of honour. The dress fitted me like a glove.

“It is such a great feeling not having to worry about excess weight.”

Ber doesn’t worry about maintaining her ideal weight.

“I am a year maintaining now,” says Ber. “I know what to do. It is an on-going project. It isn’t a chore; I just get on with it.

“I make the right food choices and if we’re eating out I plan accordingly, calculating the allocated amount of syns I can have. It is second nature to me now.

“My co-workers, who are former members of Slimming World, are brilliant at giving me tips and tricks to cook meals healthier and tastier. They were a great support to me as well as the group members who encouraged me all the way.”

Has Ber some valuable tips to pass on to those of us who need to shed some pounds?

“Be good to yourself. If you fall off the plan, don’t worry. Get going again. No-one died.

“The group is a great source of support where people swap tips and recipes. It is social as well.”

She will never let her former weight problem dictate her life again.

“I feel so good now,” says Ber. “It is a fantastic feeling to be slim and healthy.”

What of her pals?

“They opted out not long after joining the group,” says Ber.

What do they think of their friend’s brilliant transformation, losing six stone?

“I have them to thank,” says Ber.

Ballyvolane Slimming World meets at Glen Rovers Hurling Club, Ballincollie Road, Ballyvolane on Tuesdays at 9.30am and 11.30am, 5.30pm and Call consultant Jenni on 087 9954798.

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