‘I was 22 stone, but I was on a mission for a healthier me’ – First Dates mom who lost 11 stone came second in Las Vegas beauty pageant

A mother who has lost over 25 pounds in the past three years has entered her first beauty pageant since her dramatic weight loss – and managed to take second place in the international competition.

Roud Corkwoman Effy Murphy represented Ireland in the final of the Regency International Pageant in Las Vegas last weekend.

“In 2019 I took part in the Miss Diamond pageant in Great Britain and Ireland,” says Effy.

“I was sitting at 22 stone at the time, but I was on a mission to be a healthier me, so that was the beginning of the journey.

“Two years later and thanks to Covid, I’m now 11 stone, half my original height.”

Effy (38) explains that she represented Co Cork on the Diamond National Stage and won that leg.

“Then I was chosen to represent my country, Ireland, at the Regency International Pageant in Las Vegas, one of the largest beauty pageants in the world.

“It’s open to women of all ages and it’s not just about looks, it’s about many other qualities. It’s a beauty pageant, but there’s a lot of work behind it. Before that, I had to do a lot of charity work and get involved in my community.

“I had to do a lot of gigs, help out at charity events and things like that. I have raised over €10,000 for artists such as Pieta House and Down Syndrome Ireland.”

There were several competitions associated with the Las Vegas pageant.

“It’s similar to the Rose of Tralee, you move around in the community, raise awareness and do charity work. It’s pretty much the same, except it’s a little bit more glamorous but a little bit more understated than Irish,” she adds.

She has noticed a big change since entering the preliminary round.

“When I originally applied I was a size 24 and I started my journey from the beginning of the sash. When I actually got my first sash it didn’t fit me at all, it wouldn’t fit me. When I got on stage it fell off, but it was great,” she smiles.

With the help of Ebony Trends Hair and Be-you-tiful Margaret Andersen, Effy managed to find a sponsor for her flight to Vegas while her lodging was also free.

“This week I took to the stage in my sponsored Kylie Rose Boutique dresses and to my surprise I took first second place behind Ms United States,” she beams.

“I finished second in the world and represented my country – I was so proud of myself. That now means I will be returning to Vegas in July 2023 as Ms Europe Regency International and will do my best to bring home the crown.”

Effy, who had shrunk from a size 24 to a 10, once hoped her new life would find a man after appearing on TV’s First Dates.


Effy in Las Vegas after placing first second in Ms Regency International

The mother-of-three revealed how, after trying every type of diet, she was forced to have surgery to prevent her from gaining weight.

“My food addiction was ridiculous,” Effy admits. “I ate non-stop every day. No matter where I went, I had to have something and it just kept getting worse. I can sit down and eat two takeaways a day and in between eat a lot of crap and maybe four liters of coke a day. I was morbidly obese.”

One of the turning points for Effy came when she attempted to immigrate to New Zealand with her three children and her then-husband.

“They (the New Zealand authorities) said I posed a health risk to their system because I was overweight,” she recalls.

“They gave me three months to reapply, so I had to lose a bit of weight for three months, and in that time I lost seven pounds by doing the (protein) ‘shake diet’. I was 21 stone 12. That was the highest weight recorded by a doctor, but I was definitely higher at some point, I wouldn’t step on a scale.”

Up until then, Effy had had no health problems and passed the physical examinations with flying colours.

She then went on a strict diet to get the visa and managed to lose three stone, although she still needed a seat extender harness to fly on the plane.

Unfortunately, when she came to New Zealand, her marriage soon fell apart.

“I came back to Ireland with the kids, after winning back the three stones I lost and gaining another two stones I thought, ‘I’m on my own with the kids now’, I’ve got to get a grip on you here.” and do something about it,’” she muses.

Effy, who originally grew up in Togher, south Cork, before moving to Youghal where she lives with her three children, Aisling, 18, Cian, 13, and Oliver, seven, then decided to have surgery.

“So I went to Turkey, I had weight loss surgery,” she explains. “I had gastric sleeve surgery, which removed 90 percent of your stomach and the hunger glands so I don’t feel hungry. So that was June 2019. It cost €3000 and I highly recommend it.

“The change is amazing. I have a lot more energy now, can run around with the kids, go for walks on the beach. I can get up in the morning and put on my own socks, whereas before the kids had to do it for me. It is wonderful. Even the emotional side of things is so much better.”

Effy, who has been married for 13 years and has now been single for four, recalls seeing a striking difference on two different visits to Disneyland.

“I used to take the kids to Disneyland every year, but with Covid we haven’t been able to go for the past few years,” she notes.

“One year we took Ollie, the youngest, and we took him there and we were on one of these rides and I was so big I got stuck on the ride. It was the most embarrassing moment.

“But a year later, after I had the weight loss surgery and made it my mission to get back on that ride, I wasn’t stuck and Ollie loudly said, ‘Look Mammy you’ in front of everyone. I’m not fat anymore’ and I thought that was the funniest thing ever. But as if it were that easy to take the kids on rides and just enjoy it.”

Effy, originally named Stephanie, is a huge pageant fan and has won numerous titles.

“Actually, I was Mrs. Ireland in 2017 and I was competing as a plus-size woman when I was 24,” she recalls.

“After that I said I would try a plus size competition in the UK and I actually won. So I was Mrs International Curve 2018, 2019. Then I tried and won my third competition, Miss Diamond Ireland.”

However, Effy didn’t find love on the first dates and is still single.

“I see Big Brother UK is looking for candidates,” she notes. Having done reality TV in Ireland with First Dates, I’m considering submitting an application. I’ve always wanted to do Big Brother.” ‘I was 22 stone, but I was on a mission for a healthier me’ – First Dates mom who lost 11 stone came second in Las Vegas beauty pageant

Fry Electronics Team

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