Friday 28 July 2017

How losing seven stone changed travelling for Rita (57): ‘I don’t have to use an embarrassing seatbelt extender on Ryanair anymore’

Rita pictured before losing six stone when she weighed 19 stone
Rita pictured with her son in Austria last Christmas
Rita pictured in Iceland late last year
Rita pictured after shedding six stone
Rita pictured in Rome in 2015
Rita pictured before losing six stone
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

An Irish woman who lost almost six stone in just over a year has said her transformation has changed how she travels the world.

Rita Flannery (57) from Terenure in Dublin revealed that travelling was an arduous experience when she tipped the scales at 19 stone and was forced to wear a seatbelt extender on airplanes.

Rita pictured in Iceland late last year
Rita pictured in Iceland late last year
Rita pictured with her son in Austria last Christmas
Rita pictured before losing six stone when she weighed 19 stone
Rita pictured after shedding six stone
Rita pictured in Rome in 2015
Rita pictured before losing six stone

“I’ve lost nearly six stone now since last year and I’ve been on four holidays which have been a totally different experience than when I was heavy,” said Rita.

“When I was 19 stone I had an embarrassing experience where an air hostess gave me a seatbelt extender because I couldn’t fit in my seat, so I just bought my own online and started bringing it along with me.

“Obviously I don’t need that any more since losing the weight. I’ve been to Iceland this year with my sister where we were climbing rocky terrain which I definitely wouldn’t have been able to before I lost the weight,” said Rita.

Rita revealed that a trip to the Polish city of Krakow opened her eyes to how her weight was affecting her life and her mobility.

“I had been in Krakow with my friends. We visited the salt mines and I really felt the impact of climbing down 800 steps at 19 stone. During that trip, we also walked around Auschwitz and I was wrecked from it.

 “When I was heavy, even getting on a bus was arduous, and walking down the aisle I’d sometimes have to turn sideways to fit down it. Now I no longer bump off people.

“Also rushing down those Ryanair terminals is sometimes like a hike in themselves, so I’m much more able to dash down them if I’m running late, and climbing the steps onto the airplane is not a bother to me anymore,” said Rita.

Read more: Before and After: What do these ten Irish people look like after shifting stones?

Rita pictured before losing six stone
Rita pictured before losing six stone
Rita pictured in Rome in 2015
Rita pictured before losing six stone when she weighed 19 stone
Rita pictured with her son in Austria last Christmas
Rita pictured in Iceland late last year
Rita pictured after shedding six stone

The 57-year-old mum admitted that she was frightened into joining Motivation Weight Management Clinic after her doctor suggested she undergo gastric band surgery to reduce the size of her stomach.

“About a year ago I went to my doctor and he was very concerned about my weight. He told me that diets clearly weren’t working for me and it was his recommendation that I consider Loughlinstown to undergo gastric band surgery to try and get my weight down.

“If anything frightened me, that did. It’s hugely evasive surgery and I was concerned about doing something so drastic.

“I guess the power of advertising is what brought me to Motivation Clinic. My husband said to me ‘You can do this’, and compared to the gastric band surgery it was much less life-altering,” said Rita.

Read more: “Fatso” comment from stranger spurs Irish author (36) to lose almost 10 stone: “It made me feel completely and utterly worthless”

The keen traveller, who visited Italy, Malta, Iceland and Austria in 2015, said that she has made one change to help keep her on track while abroad.

Rita pictured one year after beginning her weight loss mission
Rita pictured one year after beginning her weight loss mission
Rita pictured before losing six stone when she weighed 19 stone
Rita pictured with her son in Austria last Christmas
Rita pictured in Iceland late last year
Rita pictured after shedding six stone
Rita pictured in Rome in 2015
Rita pictured before losing six stone

“When I go on holidays now I never take the lift. When I was in Iceland, my sister and I had a room on the fifth floor and every time we went up to our room we took those ten flights of stairs.

“I still have my meals out and my treats. Every morning I’m up at 6.30AM and I’m out walking for 40 minutes so that my exercise is out of the way.

“I knew that this would be a long road so I didn’t put a time scale on it. My thought process was that it took me 55 years to put it on, getting it off is going to take time,” she said.

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