Mum-of-four Deborah Byrne, who lives in Balbriggan with her husband and four children, reveals how self-love helped her to lose an amazing 10 stone.
“I may have shrank in size, but my personality is bigger than ever. Before Weight Watchers, I always tried to blend into the background, but that’s not the case any more. I have come to realise the importance of putting myself first and investing in myself too, not just for me, but for my children also.
My son recently turned to me and said that I had added 10 to 20 years to my life. That was pretty poignant because you don’t think your children worry about you, but they do. Mothers put everyone else first and often ignore their own needs, but sometimes you have to make yourself a priority – that’s what Weight Watchers has taught me.
When I met my husband I began eating with him and my portions gradually became bigger. He is tall and slim and can eat whatever he wants and it was a trend I followed, unfortunately. When I had the kids – four in the space of six years – I ate on the go and grabbed whatever I could. Working in Marks & Spencer didn’t help my waistline either, because the food is so delicious.
My children, Gerard 22, Richard 19, Ellen 18 and Declan 16, have been such a huge support, but raising four children meant a very hectic household. When they were younger, I didn’t go out and we didn’t have much of a social life. If my husband suggested dinner or drinks out, I would always say, ‘Oh no, I’ve nothing to wear.’ It was very restricting.
When I was big, if I did ever go out to a restaurant or the cinema, I would have to mentally measure whether I would fit in the seat. Then I wondered if I could get back out of it without embarrassing myself. Even visiting shopping centres was an ordeal for me. When I walked through crowds, I would have to work out if I could do so, without the extra shame of bashing into someone. Your size effects everything you do. I didn’t want my children to suffer the embarrassment. My size definitely impacted on their lives. Family photographs was another nightmare. I remember posing for photographs with my son for his Debs ball and he knew to hook his arm over me to try and hide some of my frame. My husband also knew the same. While I rarely did get photographs taken, when I did, there was this protocol to follow, to spare my blushes.
In September 2015, everything changed when I ran into a former work colleague, Allison Moore. She had just opened a Weight Watchers’ group in Balbriggan and the rest is history. I thought I would give it a go and I have never looked back.
I have great faith in Weight Watchers. I am a very determined person and if I am trying something, there are no half measures – I am methodical in everything I do.
I lost 7lbs after my first week at the group. I stopped eating rubbish, made the slight changes to the ingredients I was using and began to experiment with Weight Watchers’ recipes. There were so many to choose from that I never ran out of options, or ideas for meal times.
I slowly began to realise that I had been soothing myself with food. Weight Watchers allowed me to address that and completely change my attitude towards food and my body.
Shortly after joining, I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. This makes you gain weight because of the medication you are prescribed, but I refused to let that stop me.
I signed up to feel good fitness classes when I heard that they involved dancing to disco music in the dark. As soon as I joined up, Vicki McNamara, who runs the classes, had me hooked. I gradually began to build my fitness and now I do four high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and dance classes four times a week.
Two years after I first walked through the door, I stepped on the scales and could not believe my eyes when I reached my target. I had lost 10st 1lbs. To this day, I have never missed a meeting. The thing about Weight Watchers is that it really is a community. My amazing leader, Allison, has been on this journey with me every step of the way. She even gifted me with a beautiful dress just before I reached my target.
The members in Millfield, Balbriggan are like family. The support you receive at the group is phenomenal – it’s like being at your auntie’s house sharing experiences, advice and words of wisdom over a cup of coffee.”