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Book review - Health & Living - Winning the weight battle

At the age of just 30 Gary Kirwan weighed a staggering 41 stone. He knew that if he did not do something about his weight he might not reach his 40th birthday, so he made the decision to lose 20 stone and Winning a Losing Battle: From 41 Stone to a New Life is his account of that journey.

In the early chapters, Gary describes the beginnings of his obesity problem in childhood and the isolation and depression he faced at his heaviest. While his younger childhood was happy, by the time he reached his mid teens his weight problem was dominating his life. He describes the difficulties faced in getting a school uniform to fit and coping with the daily bullying.

Over the summer before he started college Gary embarked on a crash starvation diet that saw him slim down to 17 stone, his lightest in years but it was a short-term fix. When he met his girlfriend and future wife Shelley he recalls how he became “too comfortable” and the pounds started to pile on. That, coupled with a newly sedentary lifestyle saw him gain a great deal of weight in a short space of time. The larger he became the more secretly unhappy he was and Gary explains how he turned increasingly to food for comfort.

In 2009, he was at his lowest. He was unemployed and feeling worthless and rarely left the house but he was not open to change yet. In late 2010, when Shelly decided to go back to college, Gary was forced to take a look at himself and what he had become. This led him to contact The Ray D’Arcy Show’s popular ‘Fix it Friday’ slot to get help in finding a scale able to accommodate his weight. He ended up doing a live weigh-in on air where his determination to overcome his difficulties struck a chord with listeners, leading to the Show’s decision to follow Gary’s progress.

Gary set himself goals such as to be able to have children, use a seat belt and tie his shoelaces in comfort. Little did he know that as his journey progressed he would find it in him to complete the 2012 Dublin Marathon, having already completed many shorter distances and triathlons.

While far from plain sailing – the diary section of the book details all the ups and downs – by the time of publication Gary had lost more than 15 stone and was fitter than he had ever been. The book is dedicated to the unborn child he thought he would never have but happily is due this summer. It is no more than he deserves; his is truly an inspirational story.

- Alison Moore

Book review - Health & Living - Winning the weight battle
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