Before and After: What do these ten Irish people look like after shifting stones?
Independent.ie's most inspiring weight loss transformations of 2016
After weeks of drinking, eating and being merry, many of us are beginning to feel the toll of our gluttony as we celebrate the New Year.
Throughout 2016, Independent.ie has met dozens of Irish people who transformed their bodies and their success is just the right inspiration for the day that's in it.
Between them, our biggest losers of the year have lost in excess of 70 stones (444kg). Here they share their weight loss journeys and how their lives have been transformed in tune with their waistlines.
‘To this day I still feel sorry for that poor camel’
Name: Bina Dinan (41)
Total weight loss: 7 stone (44kg)
An embarrassing experience in Lanzarote was the straw that broke the camel’s back in the case of Bina Dinan, who shed seven stone after returning from a holiday on the Canary Island.
“My husband, who was my boyfriend then, had been going out for about a year and a half when we went on our first holiday together to Lanzarote,” said Bina, from Dromtariffe.
“We decided to go on a camel ride and Patrick has always been skinny like a rasher,” she said.
“Each camel had two seats and so we both got up onto him as he was lying down. From the start I knew something was wrong. There was an awful kerfuffle and I spotted them loading up Patrick’s side with sandbags in order to balance the weight.
“I was so embarrassed even though Patrick kept telling me not to mind them at all. To this day I always think about that poor camel,” she said.
The Catering Supervisor was inspired to lose 7 stone (44kg) through Weight Watchers after the experience.
“If you can believe it you can do it. If you have a bad day or a bad week, just park that and leave it in the past. Start again from right now.”
‘All the GAA Mammies were talking about me’
Name: Tracey Houlihan (37)
Total weight loss: 7 stone (44kg)
Tracey Houlihan began to struggle with her weight when she lost her own mother 14 years ago, after which she had to become a rock for her dad and her young brothers.
After marrying her childhood sweetheart and becoming a mum herself, Tracey’s weight became an even bigger problem and she felt as though she was watching her life drift by from the sidelines.
After battling with her weight for more than 12 years, Tracey shed almost 100lbs through Slimming World in nine months and said that her friends were thrilled to see her back to her old self.
“After losing the weight, a friend of mine came up to me after the kids’ training and said ‘All the mammies are talking about you Tracey’.
“I got such a fright! But she said that it was just because they were all so happy for me and that they were happy to see the old me back again,” she said.
“When I was heavy I just had this hatred of myself, and that wasn’t okay either. At the time I really didn’t like her, but looking back I realise she wasn’t too bad after all. She just needed a little bit of help,” said Tracey.
‘Losing my mum inspired me to achieve the goal we set together’
Tony Power (46)
Total weight loss: 6 stone (38kg)
Tipping the scales at 20 stone (127kg), Tony Power was encouraged by his mum to sign up for a charity race in Lourdes with a group of friends. Tragically, she passed away after a short illness months before the race.
“My mum was woman with great faith, and she loved travelling to Lourdes. It was the only place she ever went on holidays. She encouraged me to join in on the cycle, but she did say that I had better lose a bit of weight first. She said she would be there waiting for me at the finish line.
“My mum was really my inspiration, and it was very tough when she died. However, she inspired me to keep going. She said she’d be there at the finish line, and it felt great to finish the race knowing how happy it would have made her, and also in a place she found great solace,” he said.
Finishing the cycle in Lourdes was just the beginning for Tony, who said he’s developed and addiction to fitness and wellbeing. He has lost six stone in the process. This year, the 46-year-old climbed to Everest’s base camp to raise funds for Crumlin.
'From Obese to Beast'
Name: Davy Jones (25)
Starting weight: 24 stone (152kg)
Lowest Weight: 12 stone (76kg)
Current weight: 18 stone (114kg)
Kilkenny man Davy Jones this year competed in Ireland’s Strongest Man competition after a massive physical transformation.
By the time he was 19, Davy weight had reached 24 stone (152kg) and he began making an effort in the gym after years of struggling with his appearance.
“I began making an effort in the gym and I was delighted when I lost half a stone. I can’t describe it, but it felt like something just clicked in my brain. From that point on I just made a promise to myself and went from there,” he said.
After shifting more than 12 stone (76kg) , Davy developed what he describes as “an addition to fitness” and made a decision to become a personal trainer.
“Never give up, no matter how hard it is. I was 24 stone (152kg) at one point so there is always an opportunity to change no matter how long the road feels. Just keep going,” said Davy.
‘I lost nine stone and was recognised by my idol Jamie Oliver’
Name: Nicola Carolan (29)
Total weight loss: 9 stone (57kg)
Nicola Carolan launched a food blog the Naked Blondie as a way to document her weight loss and the Athy mum was delighted when Jamie Oliver stumbled across her recipes.
“I’ve watched Jamie Oliver programmes since I was 13 or 14 and he really is one of my idols. I had a real fan girl moment when I noticed he commented on one of my recipes. I know he has complete control of all his social media so it was a great moment,” she said.
The mum decided to bite the bullet and tackle her weight, which had crept up to 22 stone (139kg), after welcoming her son Scott in 2014.
“After he was born I really struggled. It was the happiest point of my life but at times it was the lowest. I had a beautiful baby that I was afraid to even take out in his buggy because I was worried that people would judge me and my size. I was eating to comfort myself and the weight just continued to pile on. I was embarrassed about who I had become.”
Nicola has lost nine stone (57kg) since beginning her weight loss journey.
‘I could have lost my wife over my weight’
Name: Paul O’Mahony (32)
Total Weight Loss: 8 stone (50kg)
Dad-of-three Paul O’Mahony from Abbeyfeale in Limerick was rushed to hospital two years ago when he began experiencing chest pains and feared he was having a heart attack. At the time he weighed almost 21 stone (133kg).
“I have been heavy all my life, and emotional eating was a big thing for me. About two years ago I got severe chest pains and, thinking I was having a heart attack, I went to hospital. It turned out to be severe anxiety, but I decided to do something about the weight.”
Paul has since shed more than eight stone (50kg), which he credits to a healthy plan with Unislim, which he joined ahead of Christmas in 2014.
The slimmed-down dad revealed that his wife admitted his weight loss had reignited their relationship.
“My wife Siobhán said in class it had given her back her husband. Afterwards I asked her what she meant and she told me that I had been difficult to live with when I was unhealthy and overweight. To think I could have lost my wife over my weight... isn‘t that motivation for enough for any husband?”
‘The Ryanair seatbelt wouldn’t close - I’ve never been more embarrassed’
Name: Valerie O’Donovan (41)
Total weight loss: 10 stone (63kg)
Dublin granny Valerie O’Donovan (41) from Tallaght struggled with her weight for more than a decade and at her heaviest, weighed more than 22 stone (139kg).
“My weight always affected me the most when I was on holidays. I was really the worst version of myself on those trips, when I was so concerned about my weight,” said Valerie
“I used to get so upset on holidays, sitting up on our balcony in Ibiza looking at my kids and partner down by the pool. I used to think ‘Why did I come here to feel this bad about myself’.
“On a Ryanair flight over to Malta, I was really embarrassed to find that the seatbelt wouldn’t close over me. It was so embarrassed and I was really upset on the plane, but I didn’t tell anyone about it and managed to hide it so I didn’t have to ask for a seatbelt extender.”
The granny has lost more than 10 stone (63kg) through Slimming World and donned a bikini for the first time last summer.
“I went away in July and I wore a bikini for the first time in my life. Every holiday I had ever been on had me sitting in the shade, covering up but this year I couldn’t tear myself away from the pool. My family couldn’t get me off that sunbed into the room.”
‘I was sick of being that fat mum sitting in the car’
Name: Sarah Lynch (38)
Total weight loss: 7 stone (44kg)
Limerick mum Sarah Lynch once weighed more than 17 stone (107kg) and said she was afraid of missing out on the lives of her four children because of her weight.
“I have been big all my life, but my weight really began to bother me when I had children. I didn’t want to be the fat mum who sat on the sidelines or who waited in the car,” said Sarah.
“I was never embarrassed of my mum and I didn’t want my children to feel that way either. Children can be cruel, and everything is so social media focused. I never wanted my kids to hear someone say ‘Jesus have you seen the size of the twins’ mum?’”
“I decided to join Weight Watchers to keep my friend company and I was surprised to find how simple it was.
“My only regret about losing weight is that I didn’t do it sooner. When I was getting married, I bought a dress and the lady told me not to worry that I’d fit into it because I would lose weight with the stress of wedding planning. I didn’t lose any weight and instead, I had to put inserts on either side of my dress in order to fit. I hate looking at that picture.”
‘I ditched my bad habit and shed 8 stone’
Name: Martin Loftus (46)
Total weight loss: 8 stone (50kg)
Irish dad Martin Loftus tipped the scales at almost 22 stone (139kg) two years ago and admitted that forgoing his calorie-laden fry-up each morning was the first step in his astonishing transformation.
“I used to be a fella who really looked forward to his breakfast,” said Martin.
“If I didn’t have the stuff for a fry-up in the house, I would go to a café first thing. I still have my ‘fry-up’ sometimes, but I’ve cut out the sausages, and have lean bacon, eggs, grilled tomato and beans or else some overnight oats I make up sometimes instead.”
Four months after joining Unislim, Martin had lost four stone and friends couldn’t believe how well he looked while attending a friend’s wedding.
“I was at a friend’s wedding that March, four months after I joined up, and I had lost four stone. Everyone kept telling me how great I was looking and it was a real motivation to just keep going with it. I joined the gym and began walking that bit more. After 18 months I had lost 8 stone, it really felt incredible after battling with weight all of my life,” he said
'After my breakup I saw a post by Khloe Kardashian which said ‘The best revenge is a great body’'
Name: Sarah Jane Gibson (25)
Total weight loss: 6 stone (38kg)
For Dubliner Sarah Jane Gibson the end of a relationship was the motivation she needed to transform her body and shift more than six stone (38kg).
Once weighing 16st 4lb (103kg), the child-minder has dropped an incredible five dress sizes and said the Slimming World process has had a huge impact on her life.
“Just as things seemed to be looking good for me, the night before my second weigh in I found out that my then boyfriend had cheated on me. I ended it immediately and when I got home my brother said something in conversation with me that has stuck with me to this very day. He said: ’You can climb, or you can crumble from this’. I decided to climb,” she said.
The 25-year-old last month became engaged to her sweetheart Ian on RTE’s Today show with Maura and Daithi (watch below).
“He is the most caring, loving and thoughtful man I have ever met,” she said.