Cleaner to leaner for can-do mum who lost 10 and a half stone


At 29 years of age Louise Kavanagh was 10 and a half stone overweight, working occasionally in a dry cleaners and rearing three children.

“I was miserable, my marriage had just broken up and I was going nowhere,” she declares. “I am just an ordinary do-it-yourself kind of working-class girl and I lost all the weight through doing weights mostly.”

This did not happen in a month or even in six months. It took her just over two and a half years to downsize from 21 and a half stone.

“Anything that tells you that you will lose weight in 30 days isn’t going to work,” she believes. “It takes five to 10 years to put the weight on so you won’t lose it in a week.”

Growing up in a typical Irish family she says she ate what was put in front of her and cleared the plate. “My mother and father are very proud of me now though and the kids think I am cool. My older son is getting into weights himself now.”

She had worked in part-time jobs in dry cleaners and in Dunnes Stores but now works as a personal trainer in the very gym where she started.
Turning point
The turning point was seeing photographs of herself from holidays that disgusted her and something clicked in her head.

“I tend to block out what my life was like before.”

From her experience, when she told people she was happy with her weight in her pre-loss days she was anything but.

“I used to say I was happy with my size but I was miserable; that was just a front.”

The marriage break-up was the kick-start for the turnaround. She had lost all her friends through being married young and rearing a family and her self-confidence was at a low ebb.

The new set of friends she has met through the gym are, she says, her friends for the rest of her life.

She stays motivated by a pure fear that if she doesn’t train she will put on the weight again. “I now love looking in the mirror and have to admit I am slightly vain.”

She went to her local gym in Camden Street and got great emotional support as well as dietary advice and instructions on using weights.

“I am a big fan of weights,” she says. “Women are always afraid of bulking up with weights but, believe me, using free weights is the only way to get toned and shift excess weight.”

It is more about getting leaner, she says.

“Cardio is great, don’t get me wrong,” she says, “but you could be running forever on the treadmill and not get the results you want unless you do weights. When you mix both cardio and weights training, you get the best results.”

Having reached her ideal weight, Kavanagh was at a crossroads as to what to do next, so went on to become a fitness instructor herself.

“With help from my mother I paid for a part-time training course in the National Training College in Dorset Street two nights a week and all day Saturdays.” Now she is back working as an instructor and brings a depth of knowledge others wouldn’t have who have always been lean machines.

Something that suits you
The best advice she can give is to find something that suits you, whether it’s a class or dancing or gym work.

“Remember you don’t fail, it is a new way of life and you can do it.”

Kavanagh believes she is living proof that an ordinary person can do it and that people do not need to spend a fortune to achieve what she has.

“I am a great fan of Biggest Loser and TV shows like that but I’ve proved you can do it yourself without going on the telly and I did it on a budget.”

Now 34, she is much happier, self-sufficient and when she looks in the mirror gives a little smile.

“Yeah, the old Louise is back.”

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