'I was too big for Ryanair seatbelt ... now look at me' - Dublin gran
A Dublin grandmother realised her weight was out of control when she couldn't fasten her seatbelt on a Ryanair flight to Malta.
Mum-of-five Valerie O'Donovan (41) said it was the most embarrassing moment of her life - and spurred her on to lose 10st with Slimming World.
Valerie, from Tallaght in south west Dublin, struggled with her weight for more than a decade. At her heaviest, she weighed more than 22st.
While she never considered herself slim, Valerie says her weight became a particular problem after welcoming her youngest boys, twins Lee and Keane, 15 years ago.
The retail worker admitted that when her children were younger, her weight ruined every family holiday because she was so uncomfortable with her size.
"I remember I was so worried about my body that I was paddling in the pool in Ibiza in this huge denim skirt, which probably brought more attention to me than if I was wearing a swimming suit," she said. "I used to have such a hard time, and give everyone else a hard time while I hid away in the shade."
Deciding to tackle her weight, Valerie joined Slimming World a month before her brother's wedding in Malta and was delighted to lose more than a stone before the big day.
However, her joy evaporated after boarding a Ryanair flight to the wedding.
"I was really embarrassed to find that the seatbelt wouldn't close over me. It was so embarrassing and I was really upset on the plane, but I didn't tell anyone about it and managed to hide it so I didn't have to ask for a seatbelt extender," she said.
"In Malta, I never had experienced heat like it. It was so hot over there.
"I managed to get a black maxi dress for the wedding, but I was so uncomfortable that after the ceremony I changed into a little dress and leggings.
"Everyone was asking how I was coping in leggings in the heat. It was a nightmare, but I just wanted to cover up."
Upon her return, Valerie stuck to her Slimming World plan. Two years later, the M&S worker has lost 10st 7lb.
"For so many years, going on holiday made me feel like an outsider. Now I'm finally joining in the fun," she said.