“I was sitting then at 22 stone but I was on a mission to a healthier me so this was the beginning of the journey. Two years later and thanks to Covid I’m now 11 stone, half my original size”
Proud Corkwoman Effy Murphy represented Ireland at in the final of the Regency International Pageant in Las Vegas last weekend.
“In 2019 I joined the Miss Diamond United Kingdom and Ireland pageant,” Effy tells the Sunday World.
“I was sitting then at 22 stone but I was on a mission to a healthier me so this was the beginning of the journey.
“Two years later and thanks to Covid I’m now 11 stone, half my original size.”
Effy (38) explains that she represented Co Cork on the Diamond National Stage and won that leg.
“I as then picked to represent my country of Ireland at the Regency International Pageant in Las Vegas, which is one of the biggest beauty pageants in the world.
“It is open to women of all ages and is not just about looks, but lots of other attributes. t’s a beauty pageant but there’s a lot of work involved in it. In the lead up to it I had to do a lot of charity work, get involved in my community.
“I had to make a lot of appearances, help out in charity events and things like that. I’ve raised over €10,000 for the likes of Pieta House and Down Syndrome Ireland.”
There were several competitions involved with the pageant in Las Vegas.
“It’s kind of similar to the Rose of Tralee, you’re getting out and about in the community, raising awareness and charity work. It’s pretty much the same thing except it’s a little bit more glam but a little bit more low key than the Irish,” she adds.
She has noticed a big change since she entered the preliminary stages.
“When I originally applied I was a size 24 and I started my journey since the beginning of the sash. When I actually got my first sash it didn’t go over me at all, it wouldn’t fit me. So, by the time I got to go on the stage it was falling off, but it was great,” she smiles.
The 5’4” blonde managed to get a sponsor for her flight to Vegas, while her accommodation was also complimentary, with help from Ebony Trends Hair and Be-you-tiful Margaret Andersen.
“This week I stepped on stage in my sponsored gowns by Kylie Rose Boutique and to my surprise I placed first Runner Up to Ms United States,” she beams.
“I was placed second in the world representing my country - I was so so proud of myself. This now means I return to Vegas July 2023 as Ms Europe Regency International and will do my best to bring the crown home.”
Effy shrank from a size 24 to 10 had once been hoping her new lease of life would find her a man after she appeared on TV’s First Dates.
The mother-of-three revealed how after trying every type of diet she was forced to undergo surgery to stop her ballooning in weight.
“My food addiction was ridiculous,” admits Effy. “I was eating nonstop everyday. No matter where I went I had to have something and it was getting worse and worse. I can sit down and have two takeaways a day plus eating a load of crap in between and maybe four litres of coke a day. I was morbidly obese.”
One of the changing points for Effy came when she tried to emigrate to New Zealand with her three kids and her then husband only to told was the country’s government she was too fat to be allowed a visa.
“They said that I was a health hazard to their system because I was overweight,” she recalls.
“They gave me three months to reapply, so I had three months lose a bit of weight and in that that time I lost three stone by doing the (protein) ‘Shake diet’. I was 21 stone 12. That was the highest recorded weight by a doctor, but I was definitely higher at some stage, I wouldn’t stand on a scale.”
Effy had no health problems up to then and passed physical exams with flying colours.
She then went on a strict diet in a bid to get the visa and managed to lose three stone, although she still needed a seat extension belt to fly on the plane.
But when she got to New Zealand her marriage soon sadly fell apart.
“I came back with the kids to Ireland, so I was after regaining the three stone that I lost and gained another two stone on top of it and I was like ‘I’m on my own now with the kids’, I need to get a grip here and do something about it.’,” she reflects.
Effy, who initially was brought up in Togher in south Cork before moving to Youghal and where she lives with her three kids, Aisling (18), Cian (13) and Oliver (7) then decided her best option was surgery.
“So, I went to Turkey, I had weight loss surgery,” she explains. “ I had gastric sleeve surgery, where they remove 90% of your stomach and they take away the hunger gland, so I wouldn’t feel hungry. So that was June 2019. It cost €3000 and I highly recommend it.
“The change is amazing. I have way more energy now, I can run around with the kids, go for walks on the beach. I can get up in the morning and put my own socks on, whereas the kids had to do it for me before. It’s amazing. Even the emotional side of things is so much better.”
Effy, had been married for 13 years and is now single for four years, remembers a striking difference in two different visas to Disneyland.
“I used to take the kids every year to Disneyland, but with Covid we couldn’t go the last few years,” she notes.
“One year we took Ollie, the youngest, and we took him there and we were on one of these rides and I was so big I got stuck on the ride. It was the most embarrassing moment.
“But a year later after I had the weight loss surgery and I made it my mission to get back on this ride and I didn’t get stuck and Ollie on the top of his voice in front of everyone goes ‘Look Mammy. you’re not fat anymore’ and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. But like it was simple things like that, to be go on rides with the kids and just enjoy it.”
Effy, whose original name is Stephanie, is a big fan of pageants and has won numerous titles.
“I was actually Mrs Ireland 2017 and I competed as a plus size woman, at 24,” she recollects.
“After that I said I’d try a plus size pageant in the UK and I actually won that as well. So, I was Mrs International Curve 2018, 2019. Then I tried my third pageant and I won that, Miss Diamond Ireland.”
Effy did not find love on First Dates though, and is still single.
“I see Big Brother UK is looking for contestants,” she notes.” After doing reality TV in Ireland with First Dates I’m considering sending in an application. I’ve always wanted to do Big Brother.”