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Man U-Lightened 12.01.13

Supporter Liam sheds 7½ stone and fits into first Premiership top

by Linda McGrory

A MIDDLE-aged Manchester United fan who shed 7½ stone is back wearing the jersey he got as a slim 22 year old when the Red Devils won the inaugural Premiership title.
Liam Skelly (43) had to have super-sized supporter's tops specially made for him when he ballooned to a whopping 24 stone.
But the businessman from Moville, Co Donegal, embarked on a diet fit for a top-flight footballer last year and now weighs in at 16½ stone. He went from a 48” to 36” waist and from a 19” to 16½” collar in just twelve months.
The father-of-three is a regular at Old Trafford but “panicked” every time he had to board a plane to see them.
"I would literally get panic attacks because the seat-belt on the plane would never go around me. I used to have to tuck the belt in under my belly, fold my arms and hope nobody noticed," he said.
Liam Skelly from Moville pictured at 24 stone in 2010 when he met Manchester United legend Kevin Moran.
The commercial label supplier is now thrilled to fit back into the top he bought when his beloved side won the first Premier League title in 1993.
He likes to compare the classic red lace-up shirt, size ‘L’, to the huge ‘XXXL’ black jersey he had to have made for him for the Champion's League final between United and Barcelona in May 2009.
"It's a great feeling fitting into my 20 year old top and it’s one of my favourites too.” And now he takes to the air with the greatest of ease. “When I flew over to see United play Wigan last September there was a foot length of seat-belt left over when I buckled it," he beamed.
He piled on the pounds after falling into bad eating habits over the years. A typical day would see him scoff an entire loaf of bread, crisps, chocolate, fried food and sausage rolls.
Liam Skelly from Moville wearing his 1993 Man United jersey and holding the super-sized (XXXL) top he had to have specially made for the Champion's League final between United and Barcelona in 2009.
His lowest point came in November 2011 when he tipped the scales at over 24 stone. "I was totally depressed with my weight and fed up always having to squeeze myself in wherever I went." He was encouraged to lose weight after a local man introduced him to Slimming World. He attends weekly slimming sessions and has given carbs and fatty foods the red card. His daily diet now consists of porridge and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch and a regular meal consisting of meat and two veg for dinner.
He “hates the gym” but for exercise he walks six kilometres every weekday and ten kilometres on Saturdays and Sundays.
He was reluctant to give up his favourite tipple but has moderated his intake.
“I still drink beer or cider but on a night out now, I would take the odd vodka with a slim-line tonic or diet Coke instead of pint,” he added.
He also credits wife Kaye and their children Pádhraic (12) and twins Clodagh and Niamh (11) for helping him stick to his weight-loss regime.
"Kaye makes lovely grilled meals and we eat a lot of fish and vegetables. We're all healthier as a result." Meanwhile, as coach of the Moville GAA ladies team, Liam also finds it easier keeping up on the pitch.
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