Saturday 15 December 2018

Female rugby player (38) who lost six stone by giving up junk food and takeaways says sugar tax is 'a good idea'

Stephanie Ward, having lost six stone, one pound.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A 38-year old female rugby player who lost six stone by giving up junk food and takeaways says she believes the sugar tax will disincentivise children from buying fizzy drinks.

A new sugar tax is to be introduced in Ireland on Friday April 6 and will coincide with the introduction of a similar tax that in the UK on the same date.

The new measure will see a tax of 30 cent per litre on drinks with over eight grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.

It will also see a reduced rate of 20 cent per litre on drinks with between five and eight grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.

However, Stephanie Ward, a Bank of America employee from Wicklow, says adults will inevitably make up their own minds on whether they want to buy fizzy drinks or not.

“I do think it’s a good idea because I know for the likes of kids coming up the line, because I’ve been there and done that, I am noticing that people are overweight in this country... The sugar tax is a good thing.”

However, she added: “It’s like smoking, if you tell a smoker not to do it, people are their own people and have their own minds and are going to do what they want at the end of the day. I know by people’s attitudes, they either want to do something or they don’t.”

“It may stop people but it may not either,” she added.

“It won’t affect me because I’ve given it all up anyway. I know that if I have a bar one day, I’ll have a bar three or four days in a row, so I prefer not to have it. I tend to stay away from it.”

Stephanie told how she decided to lose weight when she saw a photograph of herself at her sister’s 21st birthday party. She had been experiencing back and elbow pain, and she knew that she was generally unfit.

When she weighed herself at her first Motivation Weight Management class, she was 20 stone.

“I said I’m 29 years of age, this is ridiculous. I lost about seven stone the first time around.”

“I gave up junk food until I was able to get a handle on it, and fizzy drinks. But the big thing for me was takeaways – I would have been an advocate for the chipper and takeaway,” she joked, “twice or three times a month.”

However, she said: “I didn’t keep up the maintenance which I know is a big mistake, with different things that went on, life and what have you, and the weight was beginning to gradually creep back up. I was 16 stone.”

“I had the idea that I’d have to get used to doing this on my own which is the wrong attitude to have. You need someone to be able to check in with. Now I feel that was the wrong thing to do.”

Stephanie, who now plays rugby for Rathdrum ladies team, also suffered a health complication which also set her back in terms of her weight loss.

“I was playing rugby and I got an injury about two years ago which cracked my rib and they found out through the scans in the heel of the hunt, that I suffered with gall stones. I had my gall bladder removed and the surgeon said the process of the gall bladder is to remove the fat from the food, so there’s nowhere for the fat to go – only on me.”

Stephanie rejoined Motivation Weight Management in January of last year, when she realised that she was unfit and tired after doing housework. She lost six stone and one pound over the course of last year.

“I had a bit of weight at that stage, then I regrouped and said I needed to get a handle on myself. I had clothes, all brand new, that I didn’t fit into. I was unhappy with myself anyway, when I was doing housework I wasn’t able to move the next day.”

“When I used to get a couple of pounds off, I’d say I’ll treat myself now to a takeaway, which is completely the wrong idea. Now I’ve changed how I treat myself. This Friday I’m hoping to go to a spa day with a friend of mine, for example.”

Stephanie now describes herself as the fittest she’s ever been.

“I was so unhappy with my weight, I would have paid anything to lose it. To be 29 and looking at myself going ‘this is a disgrace’. I used to dread nights out, I could find nothing to wear, black was my colour. I’m quite a bubbly person and to not feel happy about yourself is not right.”

“But it’s about saying I'm the one who put it there, I’m the one who has to take it off.”

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