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first dates Mum branded 'health hazard' before losing 11 stone hopes to find love on First Dates

"I was once so fat I was turned down for a visa to New Zealand"

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Effy before and after her weight loss

Effy before and after her weight loss

Effy before and after her weight loss

A WOMAN who lost 11 stone and shrank from a size 24 to a size 10 is now hoping her new lease of life will find her a man.

Effy Murphy will be seen going on First Dates in a bid to find a new partner after changing her life.

The mother-of-three from Co Cork reveals how after trying every type of diet she had surgery to stop her weight ballooning.

"My food addiction was ridiculous," admits Effy (37). " I was eating non-stop every day. No matter where I went I had to have something and it was getting worse and worse.

"I could 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."

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Effy decided to give First Dates a shot

Effy decided to give First Dates a shot

Effy decided to give First Dates a shot

One of the turning points for Effy came when she tried to emigrate to New Zealand with her three kids and her then husband only to be told she was too overweight 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 to lose a bit of weight and in that time I lost three stone by doing the 'shake diet'. I was 21 stone 12lbs. That was the highest recorded weight by a doctor, but I was definitely higher at some stage, I wouldn't stand on a scale."

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Effy is matched with Wexford man Paul on First Dates

Effy is matched with Wexford man Paul on First Dates

Effy is matched with Wexford man Paul on First Dates

Effy had no health problems up to then and passed other 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.

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But when she got to New Zealand her marriage 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 was brought up in Togher in south Cork before moving to Youghal where she lives with her three kids Aisling (17), Cian (14) 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 per cent of your stomach and they take away the hunger gland, so I wouldn't feel hungry. That was June 2019. It cost €3,000 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."

The 5ft 4ins blonde now weighs 11 stone 4lbs.

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Effy before and after her amazing weight loss journey

Effy before and after her amazing weight loss journey

Effy before and after her amazing weight loss journey

Effy, who was married for 13 years and has been single for four years, remembers a striking difference between two visits to Disneyland.

"I used to take the kids every year to Disneyland, but with Covid we couldn't go the last few years," she says.

"One year we took Ollie, the youngest, 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. Ollie, at the top of his voice in front of everyone, goes 'look mammy you're not fat any more' and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. But it was simple things like that, to go on rides with the kids and just enjoy it."

Effy shared her dramatic weight loss journey on Instagram.

Effy, whose original name is Stephanie, is also a big fan of pageants and has won numerous titles.

"I was actually Mrs Ireland 2017 and I competed as a plus size woman," she recalls.

"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."

Miss Diamond is a national pageant and three representatives from Ireland go through to the international pageant in Las Vegas, which is Miss Regency.

"It's a beauty pageant but there's a lot of work involved in it," she says. I have to do a lot of charity work, get involved in my community.

"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.

"Then when I go to Las Vegas in July I have to do an interview and then I have to model different outfits onstage."

Effy now want to change another thing in her life, which is to find herself a new man.

She's matched with Wexford man Paul on First Dates and says she enjoyed the experience.

"I don't have a type. I just want someone that would be interested in the same thing as me and someone that's happy in life and content and settled, but one can dream," she admits.

First Dates is on RTÉ 2 on Thursday at 9.30pm.

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