From Chick­en­balls To Dum­bells

Jade had no idea that her new job was about to change her life...

Pick Me Up! Special - - Front Page - Jade De­laney, 22, Dublin

Mouth wa­ter­ing, I lifted the lid off the takeaway box nes­tled in my hand.

Sweet-and-sour curry and chips, with a side por­tion of fried chicken balls, all washed down with a bot­tle of full-fat cola. It was my favourite snack, and I had it al­most every day.

Lit­tle won­der my pals had nick­named me Ôchick­en­balls’. Or that I hid my flabby frame un­der size-22/24 clothes. I’d al­ways been chubby. I never let it bother me, though, and no­body gave me any stick.

Af­ter leav­ing a beauty ther­apy course at 20, I did a few odd jobs.

But mostly un­em­ployed, liv­ing with my par­ents, I’d sleep in un­til early af­ter­noon, then snack on chicken sarnies and toast, be­fore head­ing to the takeaway with my mates. I was bored, and I ate to pass the time.

In Oc­to­ber 2013, I went to the doc­tor with a chest in­fec­tion. He said he needed to weigh me.

My cheeks burned with shame as I got on the scales –20st! And I’m only 5ft 5in tall! ‘You need to lose weight,’ the doc­tor frowned. ‘Or you’ ll end up with type 2 di­a­betes.’

That scared me, but the lure of those fried chicken balls was just too strong. I needed a push…

In De­cem­ber that year, a pal told me about a clean­ing job go­ing at a local gym, Fit Stu­dios. I ap­plied, and got the job.

‘Only way you’d get me in a gym!’ I joked.

Walk­ing in on my first day, I felt so awk­ward.

Every­one was so fit and toned, and I felt like a huge blob.

‘I can’t go back there,’ I said to my mum, An­gela, 49.

I thought every­one would be laugh­ing at me, think­ing I should be work­ing out in the gym, not clean­ing it.

‘You can’t quit yet, love,’ Mum said. ‘It’ll get bet­ter.’ And it did… A month on, I got chat­ting to one of the train­ers dur­ing my lunch break.

‘What’s that?’ I asked, point­ing at his plate of food.

‘It’s sweet potato,’ he told me. ‘It’s a good car­bo­hy­drate.’

As he talked about his daily diet, it got me think­ing – Could I eat like that, too? But I was so clue­less about nu­tri­tion.

‘I’d like to lose weight,’ I ad­mit­ted to him. ‘I’ll draw you up an eat­ing plan,’ he said.

He wasn’t laugh­ing at me – he was will­ing to help me.

Look­ing over what he’d writ­ten, it seemed sim­ple. I’d just need to re­place things like chips with sweet potato, eat more pro­tein and swap bad fats for good ones, like av­o­ca­dos and nuts.

I asked Mum to buy what was on the list. That evening, I tucked into chicken and broc­coli.

It was de­li­cious – even though it wasn’t deep-fried!

Every day, the train­ers would ask me how I was get­ting on with my

Every­one was so fit and toned, and I felt like a huge blob

plan – which meant no cheat­ing, even though I missed my take­aways and craved them.

When I felt hun­gry, I’d snack on rice cakes with peanut but­ter or fruit. I swapped cola for juices and co­conut wa­ter.

A month on, I stepped on the scales… I’d lost a stone! Wow!

But just di­et­ing wasn’t enough. I wanted to ex­er­cise, too.

So, tak­ing it slowly, I did a few min­utes on the tread­mill every day.

It was hard go­ing, but it soon got eas­ier.

‘You should come and try a be­gin­ner’s class,’ sug­gested Brian, the gym’s owner.

The gym did TRX classes, where you work out using sus­pen­sion ropes.

‘There’s no way I’ll be able to do

Soon, I was do­ing two classes a week, then three

that – the ropes won’t hold me up!’ I laughed.

But he talked me into it, so the next day, I en­rolled.

It was tough, but I did it – even though I was in pain for three days af­ter­wards!

Soon, I was do­ing two classes a week, then three… Then I started mov­ing up the lev­els.

I later started a Face­book page: Jade’s Fit­ness Jour­ney.

In two days, I had an in­cred­i­ble 5,000 fol­low­ers, who read my up­dates and healthy recipes.

Get­ting mes­sages of sup­port from strangers kept me go­ing.

And I loved giv­ing ad­vice to others about how to eat well on a bud­get.

Sounds odd, but it was seven months be­fore I got on the scales for the next time.

In Au­gust 2014, out clothes shop­ping for a fam­ily hol­i­day in Greece, I found I could com­fort­ably fit into a size 14!

Weigh­ing my­self at the gym that evening, the scales read 12st.

‘I can’t be­lieve this!’ I smiled hap­pily to Brian.

Now, though I don’t know my ex­act weight, I wear a size 12!

I left my job at Fit Stu­dios last Septem­ber to study fit­ness and leisure at col­lege.

I’ve fi­nally found my pas­sion. Turns out it was fit­ness – not chicken balls – all along! ● Fol­low Jade at www.face­­fit­nessjour­ney

I ditched the deep-fried grub


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