To lose a few pounds or stone even is an achievement in itself, but to lose practically half your body weight is almost unthinkable.
But that’s precisely what Ardagh’s Lisa Leavy has managed in barely 12 months, shedding a massive 11 and a half stone in the process.
A year on, the 23-year-old remains anxious to persevere with her health drive, even though the enormity of her accomplishments have yet to sink in.
“I have been overweight for as long as I can remember, from when I started National School right through to secondary school,” she recalled as she reflected on the past 12 months earlier this week.
Conscious of the need to lose weight, Lisa went from diet to diet with little or no success. Frustrated and more than a tinge disheartened, the former Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) student opted to give local healthy eating club, Slimming World, a try.
Again, and much like her previous experiences with dieting, Lisa found the early going especially tough.
“I joined in July, but it was around September that I went in, weighed myself and found that I had gone up one pound. The next week I went up two pounds and just said to myself that it wasn’t working.”
The turning point was the decision of her friend, also a Slimming World member, to go on holiday.
“When she went, I thought I would give it a real go and that’s what I did,” she positively put it.
Aided by a combination of healthy eating through the club’s ‘Food Optimising’ plan, exercise and close support from club mentor, Siobhan Brier as well as fellow members, Lisa’s parents Pat and Helen steadily began noticing lasting results.
“It was when I went shopping last March for my sister’s friend’s wedding that I realised how much I had lost.”
Four months down the line and sporting a fetching pink hairstyle, Lisa carries the persona of a young woman who is very much at ease with herself.
“I never dreamt I could achieve so much,” she almost flippantly stated. “I’ve gone down nine dress sizes so far. It’s changed my life. I’ve now got so much energy and I can do things now that I couldn’t do before. Even when I am out shopping I can pick clothes off the rail without worrying if they’ll fit or not.”
Sitting beside her inside the Leader’s offices this week, Longford Slimming World consultant Siobhan Brier leans forward with a broad smile on her face.
“Everywhere I go, people just keep asking about Lisa,” said the Belfast native, now currently residing in Moydow. “I’m so proud of her. She’s such a huge inspiration to everyone in our group and I just hope she inspires other women in Longford to change their lives in the same way.”
Alongside Lisa’s own personal feat, Slimming World has seen its members lose an incredible 322 stone in only three months. In recognition of that milestone, a special awards ceremony took place at its present venue - Longford Golf Club - last night (Tuesday) ahead of its relocation to the Longford Arms’ Life Health and Fitness Centre in three weeks’ time.
But the final word, somewhat appropriately, fell to the former Scoil Mhuire student who has just been crowned the Longford club’s ‘Woman of the Year’.
“From the minute I walked into Slimming World, the support I have received from Siobhan and the rest of the group has been brilliant. I’m the happiest I’ve been in years.”