Leah Punch, 29, from Cork, was overweight for most of her childhood. She found out she was 26 weeks pregnant at 21 years old, because all her pregnancy symptoms were similar to those she already had due to being overweight.
After she gave birth, she was in the ICU for weeks due to further complications arising from her weight. Her doctor told her that if she carried on her lifestyle, she would die at 22 stone. However, after a combination of the best exercises for weight loss, a healthy diet, and gastric bypass surgery, Leah has turned her health (and life) around for her child.
She told our sibling YouTube channel, Truly (opens in new tab): "Being in intensive care and nearly losing my life was my turning point" and that she is so "proud of herself". The mum says getting weight loss surgery is just a tool and she maintains her weight by controlling food rather than letting it control her and going to the gym.
Watch Leah's inspiring story here:
“Being overweight isn’t easy: normal day-to-day tasks are a struggle. I now had an active little baby, and I wasn’t able to move around.”
Leah always suffered complications from being overweight such as IBS, bodily aches and cramps. Consequently, she had no idea the changes her body was undergoing were a result of the pregnancy until very late in the process. As the weeks and months went on, she started to feel like something was going on, but it wasn't until visiting the doctor that she discovered she was pregnant at such a late stage. She eventually gave birth to a very healthy baby, but she suffered her own issues that led her to be hospitalized.
After the birth and her resulting complications, Leah decided enough was enough. She opted to get a loan, go abroad to get gastric bypass surgery to kickstart her weight loss process. Gastric bypass divides the stomach into two smaller pouches, restricting the number of calories able to be consumed. She was on protein shakes for the first few weeks after surgery (such as our best protein powder for weight loss entries) building up her tolerance to eat again.
Leah says: “Now, I eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and live an active life. I have a lot of excess skin, but it’s part of a journey. I try and work out three to four times a week now”. Leah has begun lifting weights using tools such as the best adjustable dumbbells and cable machines in the gym, and is now qualifying as a personal trainer to help others achieve the same success.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
How non-contact boxing can improve your mental health
Fitness Non-contact boxing helps you stay fit, develop strength, and protect your wellbeing
By Anna Gardiner • Published
Why we should all take a solo hike in 2023
Fitness Two hiking experts explain the many benefits of why we should all take a solo hike and how to get started
By Amber Sayer • Published