a WOMAN who has lost a staggering nine stone in two years is putting her now slender frame behind the first Adare to Survive Challenge this month.
Over 400 people have signed up for the county’s first military style assault course in the grounds of Clonshire equestrian centre on Sunday, September 29.
Singer and presenter Leanne Moore, Fianna Fail deputy Niall Collins, and Gerard Burke, of the Bigger Loser programme fame are among those who have signed up for the 7.5km course, which includes electric shocks, 7ft high jumps, water and mud challenges.
But Tara O’Shaughnessy, originally from Florida and now living in Askeaton, has already conquered a seemingly insurmountable challenge all on her own through sheer determination.
After leaving work as a busy firefighter and paramedic in Florida, the mum of three, who moved here seven years ago, found that her weight had escalated to a worrying 18.5 stone. While she said her journey is not yet finished, the 37 year-old is now down to nine stone and ten pounds, and “darn proud”.
“I was always heavy. The smallest I ever was was a size 18. I’m now a size 8, and proud to say it because I’ve worked so hard for it. It’s like being a new person now, and being alive for the first time. Once you start seeing the weight move you don’t want to stop then,” she told the Limerick Leader.
The crunch-point came when Tara’s kids - aged 2, 3 and 4 - kept asking her to go swimming, but she was embarrassed that she was out of breath by just bending over.
“I never thought I could do it, to be honest. I hated myself. Now I am really addicted now; I’m not going back ever.
“Eating was my addiction really. When I was happy or sad my treat was to go out for dinner. I had to stop treating myself with food, because that’s what I went to for everything. If it was in the house I had to eat it and wasn’t happy until it was gone. Now my treat is to go off and buy clothes,” she said.
Her advise to others seeking to lose a substantial amount of weight is to take it one week at a time. “Don’t look at the big picture. Look at the next half stone you want to lose. Be proud of losing two pounds, instead of looking at the other 90 pounds to go and surround yourself with positive people.
“I didn’t starve myself. I made a life change. You can’t change yourself if you stick with the same old habits. It can’t be a quick fix.”
She now trains eight times a week, in the morning and when her children go to bed, doing weights, TRX, kettlebells and sessions in the high altitude gym at Delta sports centre.
In the first year, she went to Weight Watchers but found she was still fitting her daily allowance of points to include biscuits. She has now cut them out, along with bread and potatoes.
“Now the whole family is on this, and if you involve everybody it doesn’t feel like you’re really doing it.”
She credits her personal trainers - Brian Hogan, from Askeaton, Declan Nash and Aoife Lennon -with helping her to stay focused.
“I can’t wait for Adare to Survive, because I think it will bring me somewhere I haven’t been before. I’m terrified of climbing the wall, but I think the day will be amazing, and bring people together because I’m on a team and you have to help each other.”
The cost of entry is €49 per person, or €160 for a team of four. Proceeds will go to Cliona’s Foundation, to help sick children.