Super glamourous Patsy Nolan used to hide in the background. Now since losing almost 5stone, she is more confident than ever and is standing tall and leading the troops at her own Unislim class in Limerick.

Growing up, I would have always been a bit overweight. I started comfort eating after being bullied at age 13 and had to change schools. Thankfully, I found great friends in my new school, but would still reach for crisps, chocolate and junk food, a habit that would continue into my forties.

I moved out when I was 24 and started cooking for myself, but this was short lived. I soon met my husband, we both worked shift hours, so picking up the phone to order take outs or going out to eat seemed like a much more convenient option than cooking. How wrong was I!

I lost some weight before our wedding, but once the honeymoon was over, I went back to my old ways and after the birth of each of two sons, the weight just kept topping up.

I always ate a breakfast but would pick at bars of chocolate instead of eating lunch and while cooking dinner for my family, I would pick at whatever was in front of me.

It wasn’t until I saw a picture of myself on Facebook that my weight gain really hit home. I’d been at a 40th birthday party and I spotted a photo of me with two friends and I got such a shock, I started crying. I hadn’t realized I’d let myself go as bad as I had.

In October 2014, I asked my sister if she’d join a slimming group and she said she would. However, life kept getting in the way and it wasn’t until April 2015 that I actually walked into my first Unislim class in Newcastle West.
I was nervous, but I decided there and then that I needed to make this work. My leader, Ann Hynes was brilliant. She said, ‘We’re going to tackle this one pound at a time’ and that’s exactly what I did.

I couldn’t believe it when I lost 6 pounds in my first week! People were asking me what I was doing differently, and my answer was “I am eating more food than ever”. I learned that you have to eat to get your metabolism moving and that’s something I wasn’t doing before. That’s what I love about Unislim, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. They teach you about food, they teach you about eating healthy delicious food.

The person you see now and the person I was in 2014 are two different people. I wouldn’t have put myself forward for anything, I wouldn’t have been able to stand up in public and speak. I was too embarrassed to be seen out walking before, as I was so big. When I joined Unislim I started some exercise classes but always stayed at the back of the class. Now, I’ve become a Unislim leader and have the confidence to stand up and give a class talk every week.

And It has had a ripple effect – my two sisters and two nieces have also joined Unislim and are loving it. I have a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old son and my new attitude on life has had a knock-on effect on them. They’re starting to say, ‘I can do this’ and ‘I’ll try that’ when they see me trying things. My weight held me back in so many ways. I now believe ‘I can do’ whatever I set my mind to and nothing’s going to stop me. I have a fear of water but I’m about to learn to swim and I know I will do it. It’s just a confidence thing.

I’m enjoying my life and I am really excited for the future.