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weightloss journey Mum who dropped 10 stone after gastric bypass surgery reveals fears she would eat herself to death

"My weight was ruining my life."

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Leah Punch, then and now

Leah Punch, then and now

Leah Punch lost almost half of her entire body weight after her 2018 surgery

Leah Punch lost almost half of her entire body weight after her 2018 surgery

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Leah Punch, then and now

A young mum has told how she underwent gastric bypass surgery, losing a colossal 10 stone, because she feared she would eat herself to death.

Leah Punch (29) from Cork, underwent the invasive surgery in Lithuania and over one year later has lost an astonishing 10st 7lbs.

The carer has now set up a dedicated Instagram page @bypassbyleah to share her weight loss journey but insists the surgery isn't a quick fix.

"People say it is an easy way out and it's not like you are dieting or that you have put in any work but believe me, you have to work for it. In a year I was down over nine stone and now I am over ten stone down, but it has not been easy."

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Picture one of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture one of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture two of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture two of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture three of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture three of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture four of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture four of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture five of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture five of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture  six of Leah's weight loss journey

Picture six of Leah's weight loss journey

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Picture one of Leah's weight loss journey

The devoted mum turned to weight loss surgery after she gained six stone in ten months after the birth of her son, Shaye.

"I was in hospital for four weeks and suffered with severe post-natal depression and my weight really spiralled from there.

"I didn't realise I was pregnant until I was 26 weeks and I was only 22.

"I had always carried weight and fluctuated between 15 to 17 stone but after I had my son I just ballooned.

"Thinking back, I was suicidal and I hated everything about myself. I went to my GP and said 'I need help.'"

Referred to a specialist, Leah was put on a waiting list for the life-changing surgery as she continued to grapple with her declining mental health.

"I was in hospital for four weeks after I gave birth and was in intensive care for some of that because of complications. I suffered with severe post-natal depression.

"My weight got so bad that I couldn't even walk to the shop, I couldn't tie my shoes, I could barely put on a pair of socks and I was 24.

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Leah Punch, then and now

Leah Punch, then and now

Leah Punch, then and now

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"I only left the house to do food shopping for my child. I tried with dieting and exercise, I would lose some and then gain it all."

At breaking point, Leah began researching bypass surgery in Lithuania.

"I was already on a waiting list in Ireland but I was told that could take six years and by then I thought I could be dead.

"It was July 2018 when I finally decided enough is enough, it was a hot day and I remember thinking I should be out now at the beach with my son and I am just sitting here sweating."

Leah took the plunge and went under the knife in October 2018.

"I was scared and thinking what if I don't wake up? But I knew I had to go through with it. Food was my entire life and I just couldn't control it.

"My stomach was stapled off and I have a small pouch now."

In the days and months after surgery Leah had to completely re-evaluate her relationship with food.

"I could only take in water for 24 hours after surgery and then I was allowed baby yoghurt for three or four days after that.

"When I got home I was on chicken and carrot soup. I ate that for about three weeks and then stared eating Babybel cheese and Ryvita crackers and then blended my dinner like baby food.

"After a month I started to eat food whole. I measured out my food and it was 150 to 200g which is nothing. I had to take 30 minutes to eat a 200g meal and I wasn't allowed to drink a half hour before or half hour after eating.

"I can't just dive into food any more but I do have a new normal. I can eat everything but just not the portions I once did.

"I can't even eat a full burger. The food cravings don't go and at first I did find that really difficult. I came home and was crying watching my family eat whatever they wanted because I was so restricted but then the weight just fell off."

Warning that this isn't a quick fix, the social media influencer urged: "I might look brilliant and feel good but I have done a lot through the years, I tried to lose weight. If you haven't tried to lose weight then this isn't for you."

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Leah with her young son Shaye

Leah with her young son Shaye

Leah with her young son Shaye

Dropping from a size 28 to a 10-12, Leah said: "My weight was ruining my life. I am 11 stone now and I am quite content, I just want to get rid of the loose skin now.

"I never wore a bikini in my life. I hope there is a time when I can go out and wear nothing if I want. I didn't want to die young, I wanted to be a healthy mum. This saved my life."

Hoping to break down the stigma surrounding weight loss surgery, Leah is more determined than ever to share her story.

"I would shout this from the rooftop, there is nothing to be ashamed of. People can be embarrassed and don't want to talk about it, but weight loss surgery is normal in so many other parts of the world.

"The surgery cost me €6,150 and the care I received was second to none, it costs €22,000 in Ireland and I could never have afforded that. I really can't put a price on how much this has changed my life."


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