Woman (41) loses an incredible eight stone in 18 months to complete half-marathon to honour her late Dad
A Cork woman who lost almost half her body weight fulfilled her dream of completing a half marathon after years of watching her husband cross the finish line from the sidelines.
Deirdre O'Shea (41) has shed more than eight stone (50kg) since July 2015 and said the motivation to lose weight felt like "a light bulb turning on" in her brain.
The Whitechurch woman said although she struggled with food for most of her life, the pounds piled on after she lost her father Dermot unexpectedly in 2013.
"I've struggled with my weight for all of my adult life. I've been a recurring member of Weight Watchers, losing weight and then going off track and rejoining again.
"In 2012, I managed to lose four and a half stone which was fantastic, but my dad became quite sick and passed away then unexpectedly, which threw everything into the wind.
"After he died the weight began piling back on, it really turned my whole world upside down. You're not really minding yourself, I was eating take aways and just not really caring about it," she said.
At her heaviest, Deirdre tipped the scales at 18st 3lb (115kg) which exacerbated her asthma and zapped the energy she needed for her demanding job.
"I suffer from severe asthma and I was hospitalised a few times because of it. The steroids I was on did nothing to help my weight either.
"My job can be quite tough, sometimes I work ten hour days, and I found I had no energy to for it. I just wasn’t happy with myself at all.
"I can’t really describe it but something just clicked in my brain in 2015. It was almost like a light bulb came on for the first time and I had a focus.
"When I joined Weight Watchers again I was the heaviest I had ever been stepping on that scales. I just knew what I had to do this time," said Deirdre.
For years, the catering manager would watch her husband Kevin take part in marathons and always dreamed of being able to finish one herself.
Not a year after kick-starting her transformation at the weight-loss class in North Gate, Deirdre signed up to take part in the Cork half-marathon in June 2015.
"My husband Kevin is really into his fitness and has run a few marathons. Whenever I went to cheer him on, I’d look at everyone else crossing that finish line and I’d think ‘God, it would be brilliant to do that’.
"It’s something I always thought I’d love to do. The Cork half-marathon was coming up in June and I made a mad decision to sign up to do it four weeks beforehand. I didn’t care about the time, I just wanted to cross the line. When I did it felt brilliant.
"Whenever my husband is heading out for a run, I’ll go with him now. He’s a fantastic motivator," she said.
Deirdre said her astounding eight stone weight loss has had a huge impact on her self confidence and she socialises much more than she used to when she was heavier.
"I'd get a bit down about finding nice clothes to wear, but it’s a great feeling to be able to go into Penneys and just pick something off the rail and not worry about it.
"I was at a party before Christmas and I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in about two years and she didn't recognise me. Things like that spur you to keep going as well I think," she said.
Deirdre believes her dad would have been proud of her and would have hated to see her as unhappy as she was.
"You can cover up and act like you’re happy, but I wasn’t happy with myself. After my dad died I had given up and forgotten myself.
"I know he would be proud of me," she said.