A LEAP husband and wife lost eight stone between them and say if they can do it in their sixties, than anyone can.
Deirdre and Ian McNinch, achieved the spectacular weight loss results by following the popular Slimming World regime, and say they now regard it as a way of living, and not a diet.
They’re sharing their transformation story at the start of 2019 in the hope of encouraging others to make positive changes to their lives this year.
Deirdre made the life changing decision in January ’17 to join the group in Skibbereen, having seen her friend get positive results from it.
‘At that time I was 16 stone 9lbs, which was my heaviest weight. I now weigh 12 stone 9 lbs,’ she said.
Ian was inspired by his wife’s success and joined up before last Christmas. He weighed 18 stone at the time, and was down to 14 stone by July.
‘Basically between us we’ve lost the equivalent of a person,’ said Derdre, matter of factly.
Deirdre went from a size 20, to a size 12 while Ian went from a 44” waist, all the way down to 34” – and yes, they both had to buy new wardrobes which they said was terrific.
The couple moved to West Cork from Dublin back in 1986.
‘That’s really when I started to gain weight,’ said Deirdre.
She had just had her second child, had quit smoking, hadleft her job in the bank and relocated.
Herself and Ian went on to set up a successful food business called Roury Foods, (mainly salads) which they
ran until 1994.
Deirdre said: ‘Because everything was fresh and prepared that day, we were very busy. Our eating habits weren’t great in that we could be having dinner at midnight or 1am.
‘Sometimes I’d do something about my weight but I could never keep it off.’
Ian, Deridre says, was a complete chocaholic.
‘But my downfall was portion size and the fact that I’m a total foodie. Cooking is my passion. I could almost open a food shop I’ve so many cook books, and they’re not for show either.
‘My problem was in the ingredients that I was using like butter, cream, cheese etc. I also love baking – things like scones and yeast bread.’
Deirdre, who after the food business retrained as an SNA and retired three years ago from St Fachtna’s De La Salle Skibbereen, was still quite fit and regularly walked and swam.
Her weight didn’t hold her back and she walked the Camino, over three visits around seven or eight years ago.
But, she admits, she had pains in her joints, especially her feet and knees.
‘To be honest I was never bothered how I looked as I knew I was quite fit, but I did mind the pains.
‘Also my mother died at the age of 70 from a stroke; and Ian’s father died aged 72 also from a stroke, in the same year, so there was that concern.
‘We realised that we weren’t too far off their ages and decided for health reasons we needed to do something.’
But their lifestyle changes were also very much motivated by their beloved grand children - seven year old George and new-born Hamish who live in Wexford.
‘George is so much fun and we wanted to be around long enough for them both,’ said Deirdre.
So, with the support of her friend, she went along to Slimming World.
‘I was a bit sceptical if I could do it at my age but I started out by setting a target of 13 stone and I got there in November of last year. I stayed at that weight for a few months and then dropped to where I am now. The plan does work if you follow it.’
However she does stress the importance of staying on for group meetings and says the ‘feeling of belonging’ is very helpful. She also praised her former group leader Toddy Hogan.
‘My weekly weight loss was always very gradual – a half a pound, a pound, a pound and a half. A big loss for me would have been 2lbs. It was slow and steady and the only time I’d have gone up was if I had been away for the weekend or something.’
A typical day’s food would be a 40g bowl of muesli with berries and almond milk; lunch would be soup or an omelette from their own eggs while dinner, Derdre says, hasn’t changed too much. ‘We’re not huge meat eaters so it would mainly be lots of vegetables, quite often with a carb but not always. An evening snack would be some fruit with fat free plain yoghurt.’
Her top tips for success are to keep a food diary and plan and also prepare ahead.
‘We don’t keep junk in the house and while I might treat myself when I’m out now that I’m at my target weight, I do get back on track again.’
She says it’s now a way of life and while she does miss her baking, the benefits make up for it.
‘I realise what I had been asking my knees and joints to do and they now thank me every day. We also now do yoga in Drinagh which we wouldn’t have been able to do before and I also last year did the Operation Transformation in Skibbereen Sports Centre.’
Her advice to anyone thinking of joining Slimming World, or making changes to their weight, is to go for it, you won’t regret it.
‘If you believe you can do it, you’re right; but if you believe you can’t do it then you’re also right.
‘What’s huge for me is that I’ve kept the weight off, and may even decide to lose a little more. I’m in charge. Slimming World clicked for me as it accepts that eating is a thing we do, so it’s not about changing for a diet, it’s about changing for a way of life What’s great is that I feel better than ever and can’t actually believe that I’m 65.’
For 2019 Deirdre and Ian are considering moving to Wexford to be closer to their grand kids and have their home at Ballyroe for sale. ‘West Cork has been home for such a long time but it’s all about them now,’ said Deirdre.
Meanwhile, Toddy Hogan (Slimming World consultant for over three years) believes food optimising (Slimming World’s eating plan) ‘combined with a warm, friendly weekly group support and being active is the easiest, healthiest and most sustainable life style change available.’ She says she is excited to be part of the growth and development of Slimming World throughout West Cork, and helping more and more people to achieve long term success through healthy living.