I Lost Eleven Stone after Flight Shame

Jackie Byrne has lost a staggering 11 stone in less than three years after joining the Weight Watchers program.

At her heaviest, the 52-year-old from Killybegs, Co Donegal tipped the scales at 22-and-a-half stone.

Jackie said of those days: “I couldn’t tie my own shoe laces because I couldn’t bend down.

“If we went out to a restaurant and I discovered that the toilets were upstairs, I almost cried because I would physically struggle to climb stairs.”

The turning point in Jackie’s life came three years ago while flying from Dublin to Las Vegas.

She said: “It was my friend Fiona’s birthday and a group of us decided to go over to America to celebrate it.

“But when I got on the plane, I couldn’t get the seat-belt to go around me. And there was also no room to bring down the food table so I had to share the one beside me.

“I will always remember that feeling of embarrassment and shame. I said to myself that this is never going to happen to me again.

“And that’s when I decided things had to change.”

When Jackie returned to Ireland, she embarked on a new journey — to lose all that weight.

She linked up with Brid Griffen of Weight Watchers in Killybegs and her whole life changed.

Jackie said: “Brid is just an amazing person, I can’t find the words to describe how wonderful she has been to me.

“Brid puts her heart and soul into every person in the group and she is a true inspiration.”

When Jackie started off she was too heavy to exercise, so with Brid’s guidance she moderated her diet.

She insisted: “With the program, there’s nothing you can’t eat but it’s all about knowing what foods are good for you. Each food has a point value and once you remain within your target each week, you can eat what you like.”

Once Jackie’s weight started to come down, she began to think about exercising and met up with local fitness guru John Conwell of JC Fitness.

Jackie said: “I went to John’s studio with the intention of doing spinning classes. But when I got there, I couldn’t even get up on the bike.

“I told John I’d be too embarrassed to do it with a class so he came out to my house and we started slowly. Without him and Brid, there’s no way that I would’ve gotten to where I am now.”

Since Jackie has shed the pounds, her life has become far better.

She said: “I have the self confidence now to do things that I wouldn’t have even thought about before. I’ve gone back to work.

“It’s great craic and it gets me out of the house. I also want to thank my family who have been a massive support to me during this journey.” For anyone who finds themselves in Jackie’s situation, she has a simple

message — become selfish.

 “We spend our lives running around helping others and often neglect the time it takes to make a healthy meal

or doing some exercise.

“You have to make time for yourself if you want to succeed.

“This is about you and your health. Nobody can do it for you — you have to do it yourself. I’m loving life now and I want everybody who finds themselves in a similar situation to know it can be overcome”

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