NOEL Pearse used to play rugby with Thomond Rugby Club, but when it got to the point that he could barely walk across the pitch he knew had had to do something to change his life.
The 53-year-old who is originally from Kileely, now living in Pallaskenry, weighed 30 stone and seven pounds.
But in the space of just one year the former secretary of the rubgy club has lost a staggering 14 stone and seven pounds.
Apart from die-hard determination, Noel credits the Motivation Weight Management Clinic in Limerick with helping him achieve his goals.
“In July last year I went out for a walk with my young son and couldn’t keep up with him,” the father of two told the Limerick Leader.
Noel was keen to help train his 15-year-old son Daniel who joined Thomond Rugby Club earlier this year, however, his weight meant that he simply couldn’t.
In July 2013 he approached Motivation Weight Management’s Ballycummin Clinic where he met his mentor - Liz Murphy.
“The first week the weight just fell off. I must have dropped 1.5 stone in the first week and while the weight loss slowed later, I kept with it and a year later I’m 14 stone lighter.
“I kept with the gym in the mornings and the pool at night and although exercise was a lot more difficult than in my rugby days, I stayed with the programme. The first week was the hardest however now I know it’s all mindset and can be done,” he explained.
“What is extraordinary is that people don’t recognise me on the street - even my sister didn’t recognise me when I dropped the last stone. My family are delighted - I’ve even now shaved the beard which was simply there to hide my double chin!”
Following his dramatic transformation, which he said has even stunned his doctor, Noel said he is a “new person altogether.”
“My diet has changed massively, especially the quanity. I now only eat red meat twice a week, and only eat vegetables that grow over the ground, rather than under the ground, such as potatoes, which tend to have more calories,” he explained.
Pasta and bread, he added, are also no-no’s.
Alcohol, which he said played a part in his weight gain, has also been reduced.
“When people say to me ‘Motivation is very expensive to join’, I say ‘What value do you put on life? They were 100% behind me from the very start, and I had tried everything else on my own and it didn’t work. I cannot say enough about them or thank them enough.
“My 80 year-old mother can’t get over the weight loss,” he added with a laugh. “It has given me a whole new lease of life and I have a really positive outlook now.
“It was very degrading before to go to a match, and struggle to even walk across a field. But sometimes you have to get to your lowest to know what direction to take.”
After regaining the confidence to return to the water, he regularly takes the plunge in Askeaton swimming pool, swimming up to 15 lengths a day, which he combines with other exercise to keep the pounds off.
Now, his goals are to compete in the Kilkee bay swim and Thomond Swim.
“It’s all mind over matter. There is no limit now to what I can achieve.”