A 30-STONE man has changed his life after being warned by his surgeon that if he didn’t lose weight he wouldn’t live to see his only daughter’s First Holy Communion.
Michael McGovern, 42, weighed 30 stone and three pounds last August, but less than a year on he has lost over eight stone after getting a gastric sleeve fitted in a Dublin hospital, which has removed 80% of his stomach.
“This is for life,” he said. “My portion sizes have gone down by about 75%. I used to eat three to four packets of biscuits a day during breaks, but now I don’t have that need or want to snack in between meals any more.
“It’s a fantastic tool and gives you a great advantage, but you have to work with it. You can’t eat what you’ve eaten previously, and exercise is a major part of the weight loss,” he said.
The former Dell employee, who has now returned to education, said he continuously snacked throughout the day in addition to his three main meals, but has put these eating habits behind him as he is determined to get down to 16 and a half stone - nearly half his former weight.
Originally from Broadford, west Limerick, and now living in the Old Cork Road, he even climbed Croagh Patrick last weekend aided by a hero of his - fellow Limerick slimmer Gerard Burke, who appeared on the UK show ‘The Biggest Loser’. “When I met Gerard I was stuck on a seven stone weight loss and I was finding it hard to lose weight. Gerard gave me a workout plan, but he also monitored them too. Since January I have lost 21 pounds so I am very grateful to him. At the start of the year I couldn’t run 1km and now I’m up to 8km with his help” he told this Limerick Leader in a moving interview.
He said being active and enjoying life with his six-year-old daughter Ella has kept him motivated. A further impetus is to slim down is his marriage to fiancee Karen Murphy, his partner of eight years whom he described as a “tower of strength”.
He is also tackling his emotional demons which have led him to comfort eat following the death of his dad when he was aged 14. He then turned aged 18 to alcohol to fill the void, but after giving up drink 17 years ago, food took its place. He now goes to the gym every day at 7am, and enjoys a variety of activities, including swimming, cycling, climbing and running to help him get fit.
The more weight he loses the less chance of him getting a heart attack or stroke, his doctors advised. “It’s setting myself new challenges every day and I’m hoping to climb a mountain every month. It’s going well, but it’s still tough and has to be done. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it to Ella’s Holy Communion in just over a year and that’s a reality check. If I didn’t it would only have gotten worse.
“It’s fantastic - there’s no comparison to life before, my energy levels are way up.
He and Mr Burke did the climb and plan to take part in the Great Limerick Run in May to raise funds for Limerick Animal Welfare.
“I have to say it was the most amazing, difficult and breath taking experience of our lives. We managed to reach the summit in two hours 40 minutes and it took us just over two hours to get down. This time last year, neither Gerard or myself could climb three flights of stairs,” he said.
Mr McGovern will be taking part in the six-mile race, while Mr Burke intends to run the marathon. After losing his job in Dell after 10 years and returning to college to study for a higher certificate in business management in Griffith College Limerick, he found it hard to come up with the annual fees for the gym. But after speaking about his journey on the Limerick Today show with Joe Nash on Live95FM, Peter Clohessy and John Prenderville stepped forward and kindly offered kindly to sponsor his membership with JJB gym for the year.
Others have even sponsored him a pair of new runners for the upcoming run, and free counselling sessions to get to the root cause of his comfort eating. “If I get my psychological problems sorted, and I am dealing with them, I think I’m well on my way to getting my weight down,” he said.
He praised his partner for helping him on his own ‘Operation Transformation’ and “for not bringing any more sweet stuff into the house any more.”
He wished to thank all those who have supported him.