Irish hairdresser on shedding an incredible 12 stone: 'I looked just like a barrel'
A woman who shed a breath-taking 12 stone says she was told she'd have a heart attack by the age of 21 if she didn't lose weight.
"I am still the same person I was," declared Shannon Farrelly (27) who left school after her Junior Cert because of the bullying she was subjected to over her weight.
"I am still the same Shannon I was when I was a size 24," she said.
Originally from Skerries, Co Dublin, she said: "I looked like an Easter egg or a barrel in the bridesmaid dress I had for my sister Nikki's wedding. Two of my other sisters were able to fit into it - and it was a size 24."
Shannon said she did try to change her diet as a teen.
"I would eat healthily for a week and then gorge at the weekend. I was badly bullied in school and as a result left after third year."
Now, just over 10 years later, she says some of the girls who bullied her at school have come up to her and apologised, but she just walks away.
Going to work in Mandy's Hair Creations, in Balbriggan was the start of things changing for her.
"They never looked at me as a fat person. I always loved hair styling and I first got a Saturday job and then did my apprenticeship there."
Shannon went along to Weight Watchers one day and she began to lose weight.
"I had to go to the GP before I could join Weight Watchers at 16 years of age and the doctor told me that if I didn't lose the weight I would have a heart attack by the time I was 21."
Shannon lost the rest of the weight herself by exercising after work every day.
The family moved to Annagassan, Co Louth, and Shannon now lives with her Italian boyfriend Biagio (27).
The couple foster dogs and Shannon now works with the Louth ISPCA and loves it.
"My message is never judge a book by it's cover. People say to me now, 'Oh you are so different'. I say I am not, it is just you didn't want to be seen with me when I was fat."