A Co Down mum has opened up on her weight loss journey, admitting that bad habits spiralled “out of control”.
31-year-old Deirdre Killen from Crossgar has a huge passion for food, cooking and baking.
She has been “overweight” all of her life, and “always has just accepted” that she was the “big” one in her friend group.
In 2016 on a holiday to Cornwall, she visited an adventure centre and was filled with dread as wearing a wet suit was her “worst nightmare.”
Deirdre declined to take part in everything, saying it wasn’t her thing, when really she felt “ashamed and embarrassed”.
Since this, she has now lost eight stone, improving her confidence and now helping others who have been her position by sharing top tips on her Instagram, @deelightfood.
The mum-of-two told Be how low she felt when on holiday in 2016 and she was ‘weighed’ before taking part in an outdoor activity.
She said: “Over time, bad habits made my weight spiral out of control.
“Later in day in Cornwall, feeling very left out I plucked up the courage to do one of the ziplines, only to be taken to the side, asked to be weighed and to be told I was too heavy.
“I was devastated, I still remember that moment to this day. Trying to fight back the tears in front of everyone to save face. I had just suffered my second missed miscarriage in a year and we were on that holiday as a distraction from how low I felt – but at that moment I felt the lowest I have ever felt in my life.
“I lost a little weight after and was lucky to become became pregnant, giving birth to my first daughter. With my second little girl following very quickly after that, weight loss was put on hold for a bit.
“After having my second daughter I knew I needed to change, I kept thinking back to the adventure centre, my weight was holding me back yes, but it would definitely start to affect my daughters lives too.
“What if they wanted to do something but needed an adult to go with them? To tell my kids they couldn’t do something because of my weight just wasn’t an option for me!
“I kept having thoughts of going to the school to lift them and them being too embarrassed to say I was their mummy. I was determined to be a mummy they could be proud of.”
Deirdre’s first step on her weight loss journey was making a New Year’s resolution.
Her second daughter was born at start of November 2018 and she gave herself until January 1 to begin changing her life.
She said: “After dinner, I downloaded a calorie tracking app, headed to my local shop, stocked up on food and planned out my meals for next day.”
When dieting, Deirdre says she has never felt deprived, adding, “I did have tough days and challenging days but I always just reminded myself that I just had to get to the end of that day, just get today over and tomorrow is a whole new day.”
Last August, she climbed Slieve Donard – a huge achievement for her as she says she used to get out of breath when just tying her shoe laces.
Deirdre added: “I am constantly on my feet now, and when anyone suggests anything – be it hiking, sports day or fairground rides, I say yes! Before I was constantly making excuses. I feel great and have so much more energy.
“Last Christmas we visited a fairground with the kids, previously there is no way I would have got on the carousel for fear of being too heavy.
“This time my husband took my eldest and I took my youngest on, I was so proud that my girls didn’t miss out on anything, that I’d made the changes I needed to for them!”
Deirdre advises never to set your calories too low, or your diet too extreme.
She said: “If your excluding food you love, it’s never going to work for you long term. I lost eight stone and never dropped my calories below 1600.
“Every evening after I get the girls to bed, I sit down with a cuppa and a treat or bar of chocolate. Knowing that treats are part of my day prevents the binge eating I would have done on previous diets.
“Surround yourself with positive people. My PT Ashley Wade always encouraged me and my family, husband and friends have all been amazing and so supportive.
“Think about yourself in six months time, put yourself in future you’s shoes, think about what they would want you to do. If you give up now, where will you be in 6 months time? Or if you keep going, where could you be? Even half a pound a week is better than nothing at all.
“One bad meal won’t ruin your progress. Before my biggest mistake was thinking diet was all or nothing.”
Aside from working out, Deirdre believes it is important to keep your steps up. She has found this hard while working from home – but now uses a skipping rope and does a few minutes, every hour.
She started her Instagram for accountability to keep on track.
“I never imagined it would get the number of followers it did, people kept asking for my recipes so I started to post them, I love food and cooking so my Instagram gave me a chance to show people that losing weight isn’t all about salads and sadness!” she said.
“Once I started, I was determined to get there. I don’t know, something in me just clicked. Once I started calorie counting, I knew I was on the right path.”
Deirdre has shared her favourite breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes with Be.
This is a great weekend brunch. Serve on toast with cheese and a poached egg.
1 tbsp oil
1 diced red onion
1 diced pepper
3 cans of cannellini beans
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
10g frozen garlic or 1 glove crushed garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
15g brown sugar
25g chipotle Paste
Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil, then add the onion and fry for around 5 minutes, until soft.
Add the diced pepper and crushed garlic and fry for 1 or 2 minutes.
Add balsamic vinegar, chipotle paste and brown sugar along with the tins of chopped tomatoes.
Drain and rinse the beans in water, then add to the pan.
Stir all together and season.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for around 30 minutes, until thick and glossy.
Serves 6 – 193 calories – 10g protein & 11g fibre, before bread and cheese
Lentil, Sweet Potato & Smoky Bacon Soup
A perfect filling and winter warming soup.
1 diced large white onion
225g smoked bacon, Diced
3-4 carrots, chopped
1kg sweet potato, peeled and chopped
300g red lentils, rinsed until water runs clear
1 tbsp oil
1 chicken stock put
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
Put a large saucepan on a high heat add the oil. Once it is hot, add bacon and fry until crisp.
Reduce the heat and add the onion and fry until soft, then add the crushed garlic and fry for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Pop in the sweet potato, carrot and lentils. Cover it all with boiling water, add in the stock pot and lots of seasoning.
Bring to the boil, then cover and turn heat down low. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until veg is soft and tender.
Blend with a stick blender, adding more water if needed to loosen it up.
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Serves 8-9 – 260 calories & 9.4g protein
Creamy Cajun Beef
Can be made milder to suit your own taste.
600g frying steak, sliced into very thin strips
2 sliced peppers
1 sliced onion
1 sliced courgette
1 tbsp oil
15g frozen garlic ot 1 crushed garlic clove
15g cajun spice, reduce this amount if you prefer
1 chicken stock pot
1 tsp sugar
100g Philadelphia Light
Heat oil in a pan until smoking hot, add the beef and fry until cooked. Add in the veg and fry for a few minutes more.
Add garlic and cajun spice, give it another few minutes in pan.
Add about 200 ml water, stock pot, sugar and the Philadelphia. Give it a good stir.
Simmer until sauce has reduced and has thickened.
Serves 4 – 339 calories & 43g protein per portion, without rice