WHEN Grace McGinn’s life came to a halt in April, 2015, she thought she’d never have the get up and go to tackle her weight problem.
“Depression started creeping in,” says the 36-year-old from Greenmount.
“I hit rock bottom and I got so low, I had to be hospitalised. I was in ICU in CUH for two weeks.
“Apart from being overweight all of my life, I had other issues that I found hard to deal with. I had no outlook or optimism for life. I took an overdose.”
Looking at the confident, attractive woman sitting opposite me; it is hard to imagine that Grace had ever been in that dark place.
“Once I was discharged from hospital, I knew something had to change,” she says. “I had to change. Something had to give. I knew this was my last chance.”
Grace grabbed that chance with both hands.
“When I saw an advertisement for Slimming World in Togher, in the summer of 2015, I plucked up the courage to walk through the doors one Wednesday morning on my own. It was a big deal for me. But I did it.”
And she never looked back. Now four stone lighter, Grace has conquered the weight that sent her into a slump.
“When I joined Slimming World, I weighed in at 17 stone, 7 lbs,” says Grace.
“A wave of panic came over me, but the consultant, Dawn, put me at ease straight away and she welcomed me.”
The plan, which incorporates favourite foods, and bans none, worked like a dream for Grace.
“Even eating my favourite foods like crisps, it still worked,” she says. “I loved the plan. You can have everything in moderation. I took to it a like a duck to water. All my life, I had tried various slimming programmes.”
Neither the other weight loss programmes nor slimming tablets worked for her.
“Slimming World offers you a lifestyle plan that works around you. With the plan, the penny dropped for me.”
Grace was so enthused with Slimming World, her new friends and her new body, that she decided to become a Slimming World consultant herself.
“Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favourite days of the week,” says Grace. “Then, I really look forward to going to work. Being a Slimming World consultant doesn’t feel like a job.”
Grace is a new woman, both physically and mentally.
“I look back at old photos,” says Grace. “At my heaviest, I weighed 21 stone 7lbs. I don’t know that person anymore. She doesn’t fit anywhere in my life.”
Grace is a changed person.
“I love shopping for clothes now,” she says. “I used to tend to wear all black clothes. That has changed big-time. My wardrobe is multi-coloured now.
“I enjoy going out with pals and taking exercise. My energy levels have reached a new high.”
Grace doesn’t have to use up energy to mask her mood anymore.
“It was a strain keeping up a mask, pretending to be outgoing,” adds Grace, who recalls being overweight since childhood.
“What was going on inside was totally different. I was never slim and never happy. Now I don’t have to keep up appearances.”
Grace loves appearing twice a week in front of her clients who want to lose weight to improve their lives too.
“I’d never stood up in front of a group of people before,” she says. “I was always so self-conscious.
“But I am so passionate about the Slimming World plan, I want to share it with others and help them reach their target,” adds Grace.
“I believe in it 110%. I’ve made friends for life at the group. You are never on your own.
“And I believe people feel the same about their weight if they have to lose 7lbs or 7 stone. I look forward to every member reaching their target weight. It is a celebration.”
Grace is planning to shed another two stone now that she has lost a mammoth four stone.
“I feel like I could lose another two stone to reach my true target,” she says.
Grace has shed other things from her life too.
”I’m off all tablets, sleeping tablets and anti-depressants now. Yes, like everyone else, I have my ups and downs.
“Losing the weight was a major factor in changing my life for the better.”
Grace loves life and is looking forward to what is through the next door for her.
“Losing four stone is the best thing I ever did. It literally changed my life for the better. I won’t look back.”
Grace runs her Knocknaheeny group on Tuesdays at 7.30pm and an extra class at the Knocknaheeny Youth Project Centre, Hollyhill Shopping Centre at 5.30pm.
She also temporarily runs the Cork City groups in the Flying Enterprise complex on Thursdays at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
Orlagh McCarthy looks back to when she was a young mum of four.
“I was slim when I was younger,” says Orlagh, who moved to Cork from Dublin.
“Then, when I had four children in quick succession, the weight stayed put. I didn’t realise how many calories breastfeeding used up!”
But wasn’t Orlagh outdoorsy and active?
“I was,” says Orlagh. “I come from a scouting background and I loved walking and skiing. But I always remember the sweaty thighs rubbing together making me sore and when I went swimming in the sea, I always wore a t-shirt. I was so self-conscious. At my heaviest, I weighed 16 stone, 7 lbs.”
Social occasions were uncomfortable too for Orlagh.
“I made sure that I always sat on the outside of the table in the pub so that I didn’t have to go to the counter for a drink. I gave someone the money to get it. I had a fear that people would have to squeeze together to let me back into my seat. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself.”
Orlagh is back to the weight she was before she had her four grown-up children, having lost five stone with Slimming World.
“I was yo-yo dieting for more than 20 years,” says Orlagh, who had tried other weightloss programmes, even accupuncture.
“I even went so far to have a consultation with a hypnotist in a desperate effort to lose weight.”
When did she realise that she had to seriously tackle her weight?
“I worked for Dogs for the Disabled,” says Orlagh. “When we moved premises, new rain jackets with a new logo were specially ordered for the dog trainers. Mine was extra large, but when it was delivered, I couldn’t close the jacket. I was mortified, wondering how to tell them.”
Orlagh was despondent.
“I felt like I was destined to be fat forever,” says Orlagh. “I didn’t want to be. I knew there was a slim person inside me, waiting to get out.
“But nothing had ever worked for me.” Then one day, Orlagh saw the same banner that Grace had seen, advertising Slimming World.
“I joined Slimming World the following night,” says Orlagh.
“I was physically sick going through the door. Dawn welcomed me with open arms, but I was still nervous.” Orlagh was overjoyed when she found out that she could still eat chocolate on the Slimming World Plan.
“I couldn’t believe that I could eat a bar of chocolate every day,” says Orlagh.
“I love chocolate. I brought a bar every day on my way home from work. It was my reward for keeping to the plan.” Orlagh was rewarded when she went from a size 20 to a size 10.
“I am literally a new woman,” says Orlagh.
“The aches and pains are gone. I don’t suffer from reflux anymore.” Orlagh is light on her feet when she walks her own six dogs and she no longer carries a heavy burden of an extra five stone.
“And becoming a consultant for Slimming World gave me a new lease of life,” says Orlagh.
“I remember that sick feeling when I walked through the door. It is at the forefront of my mind when a new member walks into my slimming group. My priority is to make the new member feel genuinely welcome and reassure them that they have made the best decision to walk through that door.” Orlagh has made up her own mind.
“I have gone from a chubby granny to a glamorous granny,” *Orlagh runs Slimming World Ballyvolane, Tuesdays at 9.30am and 11.30am. 5.30pm and 7.30pm at Glen Rovers Hurling Club, Balincollie Road, Ballyvolane.
When Chloe Doyle became a Mum for the first time in September 2016, she also grabbed the bull by the horns and decided to do something about her weight.
“After Frankie, 15 months, was born, I over-indulged for ages afterwards,” says Chloe, from Douglas.
“I had spent years being uncomfortable and unhappy with my weight. Things changed for me when I joined my local Slimming World in Ardfallon on January 3, 2017,” says Chloe.
“2017 was my year. From the moment I walked through the doors, I knew that I was in the right place. I was so excited when I found out that you can eat potatoes and pasta in unlimited amounts. As a mum of a small boy I don’t have time to be counting calories and weighing every single little thing I want. Slimming World’s unlimited free foods made my life so much easier.” What did Chloe weigh at her first Slimming World class?
“16 stone,” says Chloe.
“I got a fright. I am in my early twenties. That was much too heavy.” Chloe had begun to accept that at 5 foot nine inches, she could afford to be a bit chunkier.
“But after Frankie was born, I just piled on the weight,” says Chloe. “I ate much more, not just in the nine months of pregnancy, but for months afterwards. My husband works shift work, so takeaways were often on the menu. We were too busy to cook.” Chloe discovered that Slimming World offered family-friendly meals.
“Frankie has a healthy appetite and he enjoys the meals and he loves fruit.” Chloe had an ally to help her stay on the straight and narrow, losing four stone.
“My Mum joined Slimming World with me,” says Chloe. “We went on the plan together. I hope to get a bit below 12 stone this year.” Life is on the up- and- up for the young Mum.
“I have a whole new interest in clothes,” says Chloe. “I never shopped online before. I thought they were the wrong size and too small. Now I shop in ASOS for sizes 10 to 12 all the time and everything fits. Before, I couldn’t borrow clothes from my friends. Now I can.”
Chloe has found a new confidence to become a Slimming World Consultant and to stand out from the crowd.
“In photographs, I always hid behind someone,” says Chloe. “Now I stand out in front with my hands on my hips.”
Chloe’s Slimming World group is held at the PACE Centre, Passage West, Wednesdays at 5.30pm and 7.30pm. Thursdays, 9.am.