From 20 stone to Marathon Runner: ‘People say they’re happy being overweight but it’s a front’
When she crossed the finish line of last year’s Dublin Marathon, Mary Catherine Murphy couldn’t help but think back to just a few years ago when she tipped the scales beyond twenty stone.
The Wexford woman, who completed her first marathon in September, has shed more than 10 stone after discovering a passion for running.
Mary Catherine (44) was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2 in 2010 and said her weight often left her feeling “tearful” before she decided to tackle it once and for all.
“As a child I was always pudgy. I was never thin.
“In 2010, I was over 20 stone and I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I wasn’t initially that worried, but the more I began to read up on it I began to realise the implications it could have. My family would have a history of diabetes type 1, and I knew the impact it had on their lives.
“I was emotional and down all the time. In the evening I would come home and just be a bit tearful even watching the telly, thinking ‘Oh I’d love to be like her’.
“At the time I was also a heavy smoker as well and I just knew something had to change,” she said.
Mary Catherine revealed that her diet in the past was unmonitored and she had a soft spot for takeaways.
“Before I lost weight I would have been a big picker and had such a weakness for takeaways. I would have spurts of trying to eat healthier and I’d lose two stone only to put it back on and then some.
“I’ve been on every diet you can think of, including the Cabbage Soup one. I’ve taken diet pills and supplement shakes but they never worked for very long.
“I used to have to shop online because I could never find anything to fit me in the shops and it used to cost me a fortune,” she said.
It wasn’t until a colleague expressed an interest in Spar’s Great Ireland Run (10km) that Mary Catherine was spurred into making the changes she wanted to make to her life.
“A girl at work told us one day she was keen to run the Great Ireland Run and I just thought I’d love to do that. Another friend and I decided to set a goal and walk it together.
“At the same time I joined a pilot scheme of a new online food diary called Why Weight Ireland, which really allowed me to keep an eye on what I was actually eating.
“Once I had walked The Great Irish Run, I decided that it would be a goal to run it. I thought ‘Why Not?’. I started making an effort to run, even from pole to pole, and walk in between and I gradually built up my endurance.
“I’d be out of breath so quickly at the beginning but I gradually built it up and ran the Dublin marathon last year,” she said.
The social care worker revealed that in the midst of last year’s marathon she vowed to never do one again but her opinion soon changed following the euphoria of achieving a once unreachable goal.
“At the 10 mile mark I thought ‘I’ll never ever do one of these again’, but once I got past mile 17 I had already signed up to the next one in my mind.
“To date I’ve run four half marathons and the Dublin marathon. My brother and I will run the Great Ireland Run this weekend together and it’s extra special because he’s just home from overseas as he works with the army,” she said.
In the past, Mary Catherine dreaded nights out with her friends, but has found a new love of fashion since her transformation.
“When I was heavy I just didn’t have any confidence. I was always worrying about what people thought of me. One nights out with my friends they’d all be in lovely dresses and I would probably be in something black and baggy. I just hated it.
“Since I losing ten stone I have so much more confidence than I would have had before it’s incredible. I love shopping which I absolutely hated before, and it’s so much more enjoyable,” she said.
To help support others who are struggling with weight, Mary Catherine established a Facebook Group, which keeps track of her progress.
“I began the page because I wanted to help other people who may be like I was and to give them a bit of inspiration. I never thought I would run a marathon, but the sky is really the limit.
“When you’re overweight you’re not happy. For me it was a front I put on all the time,” she said.