Stephanie sheds an incredible 11 stone with Weightwatchers

Abbeyfeale mum-of-three runner up in national contest

Stephanie and daughter Emma trying out her old pair of jeans in a great demonstration of the weight loss she's experienced
Stephanie and daughter Emma trying out her old pair of jeans in a great demonstration of the weight loss she's experienced

Hats off to Abbeyfeale woman Stephanie Smith on the incredible achievement of losing 11 stone and very nearly taking the title as Ireland's greatest Weightwatcher.

The mother-of-three missed out on the title last week by just 13 votes, but it wasn't for the recognition of her peers Stephanie embarked on the Weightwatchers journey four years ago - it was all about her health and self-esteem.

The extraordinary weight loss was brilliantly illustrated in the national competition through the pictures of Stephanie (34) fitting into her old pair of jeans, in separate images, with her twins Emma and Joe.

"I had been a member of Weightwatchers in Abbeyfeale before so I knew class leader Sandra Maher and how it all works. But I knew this time I wouldn't be giving up."

It was a taunt son Joe - then aged 9 - received that sparked Stephanie's road back to health. "I joined because Joe was actually being bullied because of my appearance, he was being teased about it and that hit me really hard. I cried plenty of times, but it gave me the slapdown I needed."

Stephanie embarked on the Weightwatchers plan with steely determination. "I was a real emotional eater, would eat when I was sad, happy, bored or whatever. And ice cream was my real Achilles heel. I was after having my youngest daughter Sophie at the time and had become very sedentary, rarely moving much or even leaving the house," Stephanie explained.

Out went most of the sweet and processed foods. "But one thing I would like to stress is that Weightwatchers isn't necessarily about cutting all the treats out. You can tweak your diet in places. For instance, I had to cut ice cream out as it was my big weakness, but I started blending bananas and freezing them as it tastes quite like ice cream, and I might add yoghurt to it to make it creamier or a bit of cocoa for a chocolate taste."

Stephanie said the first year was, unsurprisingly, the year in which she lost most weight with it becoming increasingly harder since the slimmer she has become (food points decrease as you lose weight so the diet becomes steadily more constricted too).to shift weight. But she's as determined as ever and in the four years has missed only one of the weekly meetings where members are weighed in. "It's a day-by-day thing, I just take it one day at a time really."