Busy mum 28-year-old Fiona Naughton from County Cork lost three stones and rediscovered a love of exercise. She tells Alice Grebot how she did it…

Fiona was a healthy size 12 as a teenager, but when she moved out of her family home and in with her boyfriend at the time, they turned to takeaways for convenience, often as many as four times a week. She also worked in a delicatessen and was surrounded by delicious cakes, which didn’t help.

Three years later, Fiona was with a new partner and began battling with her weight after the birth of their son, who is now five. She wasn’t exercising and was overeating, and spent a lot of time indoors. ‘I didn’t want people to see how much bigger I’d become,’ she says. Fiona drank a lot of sugary energy drinks and her weight went up to almost 18 stone after the birth of her second son. ‘I was shocked and knew something had to change,’ she says.

Using her baby’s buggy as a fitness aid, she began walking two and a half miles, five times each week, going up and down the hills in her home town to make it harder. As she became fitter, the walk became faster, until it was a jog.

She also began to eat more healthily, cutting out the energy drinks and reducing her portions. ‘I changed my eating habits,’ she says. ‘I cut out the crisps and chocolate and began making lots of home-cooked meals from scratch. I introduced lots more vegetables into my diet, as well as things like quinoa. I also switched from white to whole-wheat pasta.’

As the weeks passed by, Fiona found that she was slimming down and her clothes were becoming looser. She threw out all the size 20 black leggings and delighted in being able to fit into smaller size jeans and wear tights again without them rolling down over her tummy.

‘People began to comment how I looked like I’d lost weight. It was lovely for me to know that all my efforts were paying off.’

In January, as well as continuing her walking, she also joined a gym in a bid to tone up. Now, she goes five or six times a week, for 90 minutes each time, doing a mixture of cardio and weights, and is delighted with her progress and the ongoing results. ‘I love my time at the gym; it’s my ‘me time’,’ she says. ‘I’d always make an excuse before that I didn’t have time to exercise because of having young children. But I’ve now recognised how important it is to get out and do something just for you. You can even get your children involved, like I do, by using the buggy. It’s great for toning your arms and my youngest loves it. He turns around and smiles at me while I’m jogging along and that spurs me on even more. I’ve noticed that I’m definitely more toned now and I can even see my collarbones again.’

Fiona’s top weight-loss tips

  • Eat from a bowl instead of a plate. ‘This has helped me to control my portion size without feeling like I’m missing out, as the bowl always looks full. Topping up meals with salad leaves helps to bulk it out too.’
  • Get your kids involved in your workout. ‘There’s no better workout than pushing a buggy up a hill – it’s a serious cardio booster! If you have older kids, they’ll love getting involved by running with you and, at home, doing exercise such as star jumps or yoga.’
  • If you want to join a gym, don’t let insecurities hold you back. ‘This was my biggest challenge but I’m glad I overcame it. Remember: no one would be in a gym if they weren’t trying to improve something about their bodies!’