How a Dublin woman lost an incredible 7th place after failing to buckle her seatbelt on a plane

I joined in February 2013 because I knew I wanted to lose weight, but it wasn’t until I was away for a wedding that I was forced to take action. I was a size 26 at the time so the seat belt would not buckle on the plane when I got back.

put my jacket over my belt so the stewardess wouldn’t see. I knew then that I was letting it get completely out of control.

I was absolutely unhappy. If I was up to anything I would walk in and literally stand against the wall – I wanted to be invisible and I hated anyone who looked at me. I was even insecure about the food because I always thought people would look at what I was eating and judge me.

I was so unhappy. But if you had asked me at the time, I would have told you I was fine and I would have put on a brave face.

I came home from that vacation knowing I had to change something, but I still needed a nudge. I was afraid of stepping on the scale where someone would see what I weighed. I was offended. My friend Colette Francis had joined Slimming World and asked me to come along and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.


Donna Dowdall and Avril Sheridan

It wasn’t what I had imagined. I was greeted immediately. I soon realized that it wasn’t the amount of food I was eating, it was simply that I was eating the wrong food.

I was so busy at work that I reached out for chicken steaks or pizza – anything that was comfortable and processed. Now I eat lean meat and fish two to three days a week. I make my own curries and everything is fresh.

Slimming World encourages members to fill three-quarters of your plate with fresh vegetables — but you can also customize the plan to suit how you like to eat it.

My family would say, “I don’t know how you lose weight with everything you eat.”


Donna Dowdall and Avril Sheridan

When I got on the scale and saw 18st 5lb it was a shock to me. I hated going shopping. I was a younger age who had to go to Evans and nothing was trendy.

I started gaining weight when I was 18. When I was in my 30s I went to a size 20 and then I let it get completely out of control. People would say, “You want to pile on the weight” or “The weight doesn’t suit you,” and that would only make me want to eat more.

Even when I first came to Slimming World, I was like, “I’m going to wear this again,” but obviously that wasn’t the case.

I lost 8 pounds in my first week and it just came from there – I received my 7th award exactly 12 months later.

In 2019 my brother died of cancer and shortly after that we were thrown into lockdown. I am an emotional eater and have eaten and drunk too much.


Donna shows off her great figure

I almost gained 3rd place but then I got back on track and now I only have 4 pounds to get back to the finish.

I would never have done this photoshoot before coming to Slimming World. And I would never have gone back to ballroom dancing, which I did as a kid.

I love shopping now. My life has completely changed and I feel like a completely different woman. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

It’s the best thing you could ever do. It’s not like dieting, and your counselor will never give you money if you’ve gained weight.

I’ve made such great friends and it’s a nice social group too.

If you join the group each week, you’ll get tips and recipes, and you’ll also see where you’re wrong.

I have a day when I enjoy myself – I love my glass of wine and I’m not going to give that up because I see no point in losing weight and being miserable. You have to be able to enjoy your life and that’s exactly what I do. How a Dublin woman lost an incredible 7th place after failing to buckle her seatbelt on a plane

Fry Electronics Team

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