Ireland’s Unislimmer of the Year Jean Kelly once wished she was a woman in her 60s wearing a big cardigan with a long skirt so nobody would look at her again.
“Now I am actually living life and shopping for clothes. If you stick with it, it really is worth it,” said Jean, 37, who now weighs slightly more than 11 stone after losing almost seven stone in just over a year.
The mother of a teenage boy and girl from Bray, Co Wicklow, had to give up work as a horticulturist after sustaining a work- related injury in 2008.
Jean became very depressed and started drinking and smoking. “After giving up smoking and drinking, I started eating too much and just got bigger and bigger.
“When a size 22 was getting too small for me I was determined not to go up another size so I went to the Unislim class in Bray.
“I started eating better and began walking my dogs just for 10 minutes a day, gradually building it up, going a little bit further and a little bit faster each day.”
Jane is full of energy now and is sleeping better. “I haven’t had a panic attack and my depression is under control. I go for a walk now if I have a bad day instead of comfort eating,” she says.
Four weeks ago Jane opened her own Unislim class and now has 60 members.
“I sometimes feel I am in a dream; that I will wake up tomorrow and be the person I was last year before I joined Unislim.
“I’ve got a career and friends. I’m going out and taking part in life. A year ago I was lying at home on the sofa and thinking there is no point; that I would always be big. So my life now is really a dream come true,” she says.
Mayo man, Kieran Munnelly, one of the 12 finalists, was named Unislim man of the year after slimming down from 17 stone 10lbs to 13 stone.
Kieran from Belmullet, Co Mayo, weighed 21 stone when he was 21. With the help of Unislim, he has gone from struggling to walk to running 10k races.
Another contestant, Linda Baldwin, 43, from Gurranabraher, Cork, lost 4st 6lbs since joining Unislim last September.
“I weighed 13st 5lbs when I joined Unislim and, up to then, nothing had worked for me.
My target weight was 9st 10lb; I now weigh 8st 13lbs so I am well under my target. If I can do it anyone can,” she said.
Linda’s life is back on track. Her self-confidence and esteem has soared. Two weeks ago she got a job in a pharmacy and loves it.
Vinny Power, 33, from Carrigaline, Co Cork, was also in the top 12 after losing 4st 4lbs.
The airline steward weighed 14st 9lbs when he joined Unislim in January last year to undo his bad eating habits acquired from working odd hours.
In just three months he reached his target weight.
“Everyone can lose weight. The 12 of us here today are proof of that. I still have my treats but there is no excessive eating anymore,” he says.
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