How I went from size 26 to 10 - Strangford woman's amazing transformation
Roisin Curran tells Stephanie Bell how she finally got the figure she craved
Life has only just begun at the age of 30 for Strangford woman Roisin Curran after she lost a colossal nine stone and three pounds in weight.
It is the simple pleasures, which were denied to her in her teens, that Roisin is now relishing - shopping for fashion for the first time, going out with friends and starting university.
Roisin has transformed her life in every way since joining her local slimming group just over two years ago - and dropping eight dress sizes from 26 to a svelte size 10 - almost halving her body weight.
She says: "I was so shy because of my weight that I wouldn't socialise and if I did have to go out, I felt embarrassed.
"My life was on hold. I am doing things now that I should have been doing 10 years ago and my only regret is that I didn't join Slimming World sooner. I'm just thankful that I am able to do everything now.
"I don't think you realise how badly your self-esteem is affected until you lose the weight."
Roisin battled obesity throughout her teens and the more weight she put on, the more confidence she lost.
She was overweight as a child and it was only when she was moving from primary school to high school and couldn't get a skirt to fit her that she first became aware of her size.
Eating all the wrong foods, her weight continued to soar upwards, so that in high school she was a size 18.
She says: "I was really quiet and shy and hid myself at home. I didn't socialise at all and I didn't celebrate any of the usual milestones - my 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays.
"I hated getting my photo taken and would turn away from the camera."
When Roisin left school after her A-levels, she looked for a job in Belfast because she didn't feel comfortable working in her home town of Strangford.
She got a job in a shoe shop in the city where all the time she felt self-conscious about her weight.
She says: "I had to climb a ladder to reach stock and I was afraid it would give way beneath me.
"I was always conscious that I was the biggest employee in the shop. I got a job in Belfast because I didn't want anyone from home to see me - but I wasn't happy at all. I had to wear big baggy clothes and I tried to hide how I was feeling behind a bubbly personality." She then found herself out of work for a period in her twenties when, because she was at home bored all day, she ate even more and the weight piled on further.
Unemployed and getting even heavier, she felt trapped and depressed. Roisin had also hit her heaviest weight of more than 19 stones.
It was two events, though, which led Roisin to finally try and tackle her weight problem just over two years ago.
Her friend had asked her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding and she had also gotten a new job in the high street fashion chain New Look which made her feel even more aware of her size.
She recalls: "Those two things at the same time really made me think. I was upset when my friend asked me to be a bridesmaid and I wanted to say 'no' as I really didn't want to go shopping for a bridesmaid's dress. I convinced her to get a dress made for me to avoid the embarrassment.
"Then when I started work in New Look and was surrounded by all these fashionable clothes and slim girls it was like a breaking point for me and I just thought 'I need to do something about this'. "
Her mum had joined her local Slimming World group and urged Roisin to go along too.
By this time she was so self-conscious about her weight and had avoided social situations for so long that, at first, she couldn't bring herself to go.
Her mum went along and as Roisin saw her start a new diet she became intrigued by it and finally found the courage to face her fears and join the group.
It was the beginning of a journey which not only has transformed her life in every way giving her new found confidence and opportunities, but the biggest surprise for Roisin was how easy she found it.
She says: "I found it very scary and daunting just joining the group and yet when I went that first time I quite enjoyed it.
"I was amazed at how much I was allowed to eat and most of it was my favourite food, so it never felt like I was losing out as I was able to eat so much food that I had enjoyed before.
"I had never weighed myself and when I stood on the scales that first night and saw that I was over 19 stones I was really shocked."
Roisin lost eight and a half pounds after just one week of following her new food plan - and the weight continued to gradually come off. It took just over two years for her to slim down from a size 26 to size 10 and she now weighs a healthy 10 stone two pounds.
She says: "It was so easy to do and yet it has completely changed my life.
"I have so much more confidence now and I am not shying away from people and events like I always did before.
"I love going out and socialising and I go out all the time now with my friends.
"I always wanted to go into nursing but felt 'how could I tell other people to be healthy when I was the size I was'. It is brilliant to be in my first year at university studying to become a nurse.
"I couldn't have mixed with people before, which also put me off going to university, I just wasn't able to do it.
"I love going into clothes shops and having a choice. I used to have just two or three shops that I could go into and it feels amazing to be able to pick clothes I like and know they will fit me.
"It empowers you in so many ways. I have so much more energy now and I go to the gym three times a week. "
Roisin hopes her story will inspire others who are struggling with their weight and living in misery like she did for so many years. The fact that she found her weight loss easy is the main message she hopes to get across to people who think it is not possible to lose large quantities of weight.
She adds: "I would just like to say to people that if they can get into the frame of mind that they want to do it then it is possible.
"On the Slimming World plan there is so much you can eat and so much choice that I never felt once that I was on a diet.
"In the two years, it never felt like I was doing something that was difficult. With the right support and the right tools anyone can do it.
"Life is great now and I feel as though I can do anything and will take up any opportunity that comes my way. I do feel I have missed out on so much but it has made me appreciate what I have now so much more."