My name is Louise Butler-Byrne. I’m 29, from South Dublin, and am a full time hairdresser.
I have been overweight as far back as I can remember. I could start listing off reasons as to why, but it’s not rocket science. I’m an emotional eater and I don’t just mean when I’m feeling low, I mean I eat for every emotion, the good, the bad and the greedy bitch. It also doesn’t help that I’m infatuated by food or that I’m a bit of a secret eater. I would consider myself a confident person, but I have always struggled with self-esteem. I suppose I just accepted I would always be big and always feel insecure about my weight and that was just how it was.
As I entered into my late teens, alcohol and takeaways became part of my weekly ritual. Most weekends were consumed with everything alcoholic, while generally nights ended with a sneaky Eddie Rockets at 4am. Over the years the alcohol consumption grew and so did my appetite for food. I smothered my body with black baggy layers of clothes. Every shopping trip took a further plunge to the back of the rails.
As the years went by my weight kept creeping up. I gave every diet under the sun a go. Most of them worked to be fair, but I could never maintain them. I would lose large amounts fast on fad diets, but these were never realistic and I always went back to my old ways.
At 20 stone, 7 pounds I decided to apply for Operation Transformation. It was a daunting decision that I didn’t enter into lightly. To cut a long story short I made it to the final twenty candidates, but I didn’t get chosen to be one of the five leaders. However, the application process alone was enough for me to realise that something had to change.
I made the decision to get involved with my local OT Group in Ballyboden St. Endas and followed the plan as best as I could when the show started. I decided to do some research about nutrition and learn about what my body needed rather than what my head wanted. I custom made lots of recipes that suited my busy lifestyle and I began fitness training with Brendan Perry at Kaizen Dojo in Terenure on the 14th of January 2016. When I first started training I was very unfit and struggled at every session.
My body was in shock and I didn’t think I would be able to continue. I kept pushing myself and learning more about the food my body needed. No pills, no potions just clean eating and plenty of exercise.
When the show finished so did our local group. But me and Gillian from work both kept going. Every Friday we weighed each other and took turns bringing in healthy lunches. This made life a little easier when it came to food prep.
As my fitness levels increased I decided to sign up for the Women’s Mini Marathon. This was a massive thing for me as previously I could barely walk up the stairs, let alone do a 10k walk. Little goals like this kept me focused. I roped in a few of the girls to do it with me. I was so emotional crossing the finish line and it’s a moment I will never forget. I reached my four stone loss the week before the Marathon and decided I wanted to visualise the 4 stone so I worked out that one Argos catalogue weighed 3lbs, and in total I had lost just over 18 of them!!! This was amazing and so scary to see as Jack and I struggled to carry a handful each. I couldn’t believe what I had been doing to my body all these years! My life was so much harder overweight. It’s so hard to drag yourself for a walk or fitness class, but it’s ten times harder carrying around extra weight all day long.
Over the last nine months the pounds have been coming off little by little, but by God have they been adding up. On the 15th August 2016 I reached a weight loss of FIVE stone. Like the Argos catalogues, I wanted to see it. It equaled FOUR bags of roosters!! I could barely carry two of the bags!!
I still cant believe I have managed to lose this amount of weight and it doesn’t feel like I’m on a diet at all. Everything I eat is so delicious and simple to make. I try to make my food look as attractive as possible so when it looks appealing I don’t feel like I’m losing out I feel like I’m winning. I love cooking and love thinking of healthier options to replace sugary foods.
I will be continuing on my lifestyle change and keeping anyone who wants to follow up to date. I’m not trying to tell people what to do or what I think is best, all I know is what I’m doing is working for me. If my story could inspire even one person to make a change in their life mine would become that bit fuller.