'Losing four stone has given me the confidence to change my career'

Maura O’Connor had struggled with her weight for years, but after discovering Slimming World, she gained a new lease of life and decided to completely transform her world.

Although her weight had been creeping up for years, seeing an unflattering photograph of herself from her cousin’s wedding was the final straw. This proved to be a massive wake-up call for her. Her dress was a size 20 and she was ashamed of the photograph. With her self-confidence at an all-time low, she knew she needed to change her lifestyle.

“I dreaded clothes shopping because it only reminded me how big I was," she recalled. "I would look up shops on Google to see what size they went up to. While I loved the idea of going out with friends and family, I would make excuses to get out of shopping trips as I was embarrassed that I might not find anything to fit me. When I received a 'save the date' invite to another cousin’s wedding, this time in Spain, I knew I had do something.”

Over the years she made multiple attempts at losing weight, but she would quickly lose interest and the weight piled back on. She found having to weigh and measure everything too restrictive, and previous weight loss attempts had always left her feeling hungry. She was also a busy working mother – she had a demanding job with long hours and a husband and two young children at home. She did not have the time or the will to be making separate meals for herself.

“I was desperate to make a real lifestyle change – not follow some quick-fix diet. A friend of mine told me about Slimming World, and how she had lost a lot of weight for her daughter’s Communion.” Maura O'Connor decided to join Caroline’s Slimming World group in January 2017, and her goal was to lose three stone by that wedding in October.

“I couldn’t believe that I could eat unlimited amounts of 'free' food such as pasta, potatoes, fish, and lean meats and still lose weight. Then something happened in my first week at group to really boost my confidence – I lost 7lb.”

With a half stone gone in a week, Maura was amazed that the changes she had made had such an impact straight away. Even her friends and family were shocked by how much she could eat and still lose weight. She made simple changes to the way she prepared and cooked, using lean cuts of meats and using a low-calorie spray instead of oil, and she was still able to enjoy her favourite family meals such as chicken curry, spaghetti Bolognese, and big roast dinners.

“The only difference is, they taste even better now,” Maura says, and her family agrees. Every Sunday she would plan her meals for the week and would batch cook her favourite foods to have in the freezer.

Maura O'Connor also feels that another contributor to her success is the support she gets at Slimming World each week. “I know I couldn’t have lost weight consistently without the weekly support, encouragement, and understanding of my own consultant and group. I’ve picked up lots of new healthy recipes from the other members too, and hearing everyone’s struggles and achievements really inspires me.”

Maura achieved her goal of losing the three stone by October and went on to lose a further one since. She also dropped four dress sizes. “When I started my weight loss journey, I never imagined I’d be able to achieve all that I have. Sometimes people I haven’t met in a while hardly recognise me, and the compliments I now get has given me a huge boost and leaves me brimming with pride. Losing the weight has made such a big difference, it has literally changed my life. I’m healthier, happier, and have much more energy. And the best part is I can shop in all the regular stores with the confidence to know I can look good.”

Losing the weight has also given Maura O'Connor the self-belief to change her life in other ways too. She is using her success to shape a new career. She left her previous job and has now trained as a consultant for Slimming World, the UK and Ireland’s largest group-based weight loss organisation, and is relaunching the Clarinbridge group from Wednesday July 25.

As a member, the confidence and happiness Maura has gained since joining Slimming World is undeniable. Now as a consultant, using her own personal experience, she hopes to create a warm, friendly, group to give her members a supportive atmosphere where they will have the encouragement to share their own experiences. “As someone who has lost weight myself, I know the challenges people can face, which is why, along with the group, I will be there to support every one of my members all the way to achieving their chosen target weight.”

Maura’s groups will be held in Scoil Mhuire, Clarinbridge National School, on Wednesdays at 5.30pm and 7.30pm commencing from Wednesday July 25. For more information call/text Maura O'Connor on 087 2768935.

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