"I was hitting 22 stone. At that point my kids had to put my socks on for me because I couldn’t bend down to put them on"
Effy Murphy (37), who is a single mum of three, weighed in at 22 stone when she made the life-altering decision to undergo bariatric surgery.
The pageant queen from Cork, who was once denied a visa because of her size, is now a lithe size 10 and loving the skin she’s in.
“I was hitting 22 stone. At that point my kids had to put my socks on for me because I couldn’t bend down to put them on. I couldn’t play with them or run around with them without getting out of breath. I was borderline diabetic.
“At that stage I was a single mom to three. I needed to be healthy and to be here physically for them as well. I had to think of my health — I didn’t want to not wake up one day.”
Effy researched the weight loss procedure and found the Irmet International Hospital clinic in Turkey after she was denied entry to New Zealand because of her weight.
“Before my separation we wanted to permanently relocate to New Zealand but I was refused the visa because of physical tests. The doctor told me I was morbidly obese and he gave me three months to lose weight because I was a hazard to New Zealand’s health system. I had no choice, I had to lose weight. I went on shakes for three months and I lost three stone and I was granted my visa. But then I went back to my eating habits and put on the three storne and more. It was the push I needed, I was completely humiliated.
“Within a month I was flying to Turkey to change my life and within 12 months of having the gastric sleeve I was down over ten stone. It was definitely the best thing I ever did for myself — changing myself physically and mentally.”
Speaking of the invasive surgery, Effy who is the proud mum of Aisling (17) Cian(14) and seven-year-old Ollie, revealed how she adapted to a liquid and pureed food diet.
“They removed a percentage of my stomach – almost 80 per cent – and they also remove the hunger gland that makes you feel hungry. After the surgery, you don’t feel any hunger at all. For the first three weeks I was on a liquid diet, three weeks after that I was on a puréed diet which is similar to a babies. After that, you introduce regular foods to see what you can tolerate.
“I’m back to regular-sized portions but in the beginning, I was literally eating one egg and that would be an entire meal.”
For Effy, the surgery was her last chance, having tried and failed on so many other fad diets in the past.
“I hate when people say just exercise and eat well, it really isn’t that simple. I have tried everything. I have always suffered with my weight. I think it was just me giving up on myself. I always put my children first, I was in a marriage where I was just unhappy. I loved him, but we were just strangers in our own marriage and I think I just lost myself along the way.”
At her lowest point, the devoted mum can remember being targeted in public because of her weight.
“I remember being on holidays and I had kids call me a pig. They were snorting and making pig noises. You just get on with it because you’re so used to people kind of mocking you, you know. Like, I’d always get people staring at me and making comments.
“I found it hard getting up in the morning bringing the kids to school because I knew people were just going to look at me and judge me. I wanted to be invisible.”
The influencer’s ballooning weight even impacted her glittering pageant career.
“I started competing in pageants in the plus-size category in 2015 and I was immediately hooked, I remember somebody in the audience was like, ‘how could she be a queen? Look at the size of her, she’s an animal.’
“I was a size 24 when I started pageants. I remember going into a shop and they stocked up to a size 30 but not one dress fit me. I carried all the weight on my waist and my stomach so there wasn’t one dress that worked. I remember walking out of the shop and I was crying hysterically, I was completely broken.”
Undergoing a tummy tuck, a breast uplift and implant, liposuction and a thigh and arm lift, Effy completed her weight loss journey when she had her excess skin removed.
“I flew back to Turkey to have my skin removal. When I had the skin removed I was down another stone that brought me to 11 stone, I would have been a child the last time I saw that number.”
Representing her county in the upcoming Miss Diamond UK finals in August, Effy hopes to bring home the crown.
“It was the best feeling in the world going back there last week and buying a size 10 dress and just parading around the shop, loving the skin I am in. It would be a dream to win, the icing on the cake.”
Sharing her journey on her hugely popular Instagram page @effysjourney, Effy wants to inspire people that they too can change their lives.
“Body positivity has always been my platform, once you love yourself, that’s the main thing. I was worried about having scars after having my skin removed but now I know they’re like my battle scars and they tell my story.”