MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer Elaine McGuirk is enjoying a whole new lease of life after shedding five stone.
Elaine (37), from St Margarets in North County Dublin, didn't know what was happening to her when her health started to deteriorate three years ago.
She had a back surgery and lost the sight in her right eye before she noticed the power in her right arm disappearing.
"I was diagnosed with MS at just 34 but to be honest, after being sick for so long, it was a bit of a relief to get a final diagnosis. At least we could go about treating it," she told the Herald.
After trying to come to terms with her condition, Elaine decided to go back to work in November 2011, but she suffered a stress-induced relapse and her whole world started to unravel.
"I was nearly 17 stone when my doctor recommended that I try to lose some weight to help with MS fatigue and longer term mobility. I had no energy, was tired all the time, my self esteem evaporated and I had no interest in socialising," said Elaine.
In January last year, Elaine decided to take control of her weight and her health. "I was 16st and 12lbs. I wanted to lose weight, feel better and get my confidence back", she said.
Now, after nearly 18 months with her local Motivation Weight Management clinic Elaine has lost 5st and 2lbs and only sees her MS consultant once a year instead of four times a year.
"I felt great. My energy levels increased and I got my self confidence back. I feel it has helped my health," Elaine said.
"I learned what sort of person I am, and how to handle my emotions differently. I no longer use food as a crutch.
"My advice to anybody with MS would be to stay healthy."
Mary Ryan from MS Ireland advised: "It is important to stay positive and active. If you can maintain high self-esteem then any challenges you face will be easier to cope with."