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I will celebrate 100lb weight loss with a party

BRINK founder Jacquie Johnston-Lynch reveals how she smashed her own lifetime addiction

Published on April 17th 2014.

I will celebrate 100lb weight loss with a party

Jacquie Johnston-Lynch knows all about addiction. The founder of the city's first dry bar for recovering alcoholics, BRINK, on Parr St, she also set up self-help addicts organisation, SHARP Liverpool, and Sahir House which works with HIV sufferers and their families.

Her latest project is the UK’s first military veteran addiction treatment unit, Tom Harrison House.

The weight starts to dropThe weight starts to dropYet despite the awards and accolades, including Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneur of 2013, Jacquie has spent much of her life in the grip of her own demon, which, she says, has stopped her developing her own full potential.

Jacquie has been seven stone overweight for the past 20 years and had been classified as obese since the age of 10.

But in the last 10 months that has all changed and Jacquie has lost an amazing 73 lbs with a new approach. Here is how.

AFTER a sexual trauma at the age of nine, which occurred at the same time as my parents divorced, I turned to food for comfort. It became my best friend for a long time until it became THE enemy.

I had a period of binging and purging, then trying to starve myself, all of which just created havoc with my metabolism. Each year I just grew fatter and fatter no matter what fad diet I was on next. I detested myself.

I married at 17 and had given birth to three sons within five years.

Of course, during each pregnancy I piled on the weight, rising up to 19 stone. My second son died aged three days old, and me, being so young, I was unable to cope with the grief and I just ate more and more food in order to numb out the pain.

As I was never happy in myself, I was never happy in relationships, so after divorcing my second husband my eating went into a downward spiral. By this time I was eating vast amounts of food, spending large amounts of money on takeaways and fast food.

I sought help from my GP on many occasions, but just got sent to dieticians who didn’t understand the psychology behind my eating. They just thought the best way was to tell me to eat steamed fish and veg. For a food addict, like me, that was like telling a heroin addict to just say no!

No one gets themselves so obese without having some major emotional or psychological issues underneath the surface. I didn’t wake up one day and think, “oh yes, I'd like to be so fat that I can't bend over to fasten my shoes or that I cant walk my kids to school for fear of ridicule.”

Jj8 Then, in 1997, my GP finally referred me to an eating disorder clinic. I was seen as an out-patient for 6 months treatment. I lost a very small amount of weight but what I gained was a new understanding of the cycle of self blame and punishment I had got into with food. The psychotherapist introduced me to something called the 12-step fellowship and, for the very first time, I felt like there were others who understood.

I went to 12-step meetings for seven years and then, when my professional life took me in to the word of addiction, I chose to attend online meetings. The meetings are free and take place at any time of day or night, so help was always at hand. It taught me to remove what they call the “alcoholic foods” from the diet and to eat just three meals a day with nothing in between.

I didn’t “diet”, I just took a more spiritual and loving approach and lessened the addictive foods. This brought me down to around 17 stone and I just maintained this weight and this way of eating for 14 years.

I felt resigned to a life of staying fat but feeling somewhat happier. I remarried in 2001 and gave birth to my youngest son in 2003. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during the pregnancy and was told that it would subside once I had given birth but that it was an indicator that I would develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

Somehow I just didn’t want to hear this. I didn’t want to face a food-related illness when finally I was feeling happier and blessed in my life.

Then a wonderful moment arrived in my life. I came into contact with a self development organisation called Clearmind International. Its founders, Duane and Catherine O’Kane, come to the UK three times a year to teach people to live their lives to its full potential, to “step into magnificence”.


After undertaking so much of their work I could see that I was still sabotaging myself from living the fullest life possible as I was still trapped in this seven-stone-overweight body. They sat me down and asked me what I was attached to…….did I want to truly live or did I want to stay trapped. Aged 51 I finally had to ask myself what am I choosing? And the truth was I was unconsciously choosing fear. I was ashamed of this, that after all the work I was doing creating change and transformation for so many people.

So Duane and Catherine gave me a challenge to make the change for me. I approached another person who had also been doing Clearmind Work. He had been trapped in a well paid job he hated and, with Clearmind’s help, he made the decision to take the leap of faith into personal training and nutritional coaching: Matt Gunn.

He introduced me to Paleo. It was a whole new approach for me, but I was ready to listen. He explained that it was about eating foods that were eaten during the Palaeolithic times. He told me to remove dairy, grain and processed sugars from my diet for 30 days and to see what happened. He also told me to get weighed on day one and then not to get weighed again until 30 days later.

I started on June 1, 2013. The first 11 days were a nightmare. Sugar withdrawals vile! Somehow on day 12 something changed. I got into it and loved it. I was eating the most delicious and huge meals.

Matt explained that most people fail to lose weight because they aren’t eating enough. So I piled in the organic meat and fish and amazing fresh vegetables and wonderful desserts of fresh fruit and coconut cream; drinking lots of fresh juice and coconut water. Incredible! So much food and I could still feel the weight just dropping off.

I had boundless energy, no symptoms of IBS, which had plagued me for years, my skin was glowing and my hair was shiny and glossy. Everything about this Paleo approach felt amazing.

It was then that I knew it had to be a lifestyle and not a diet. So now in our household we all eat Paleo. My son has lost 11lbs, my husband has lost 30lbs and I have lost a whopping 73lbs so far.

I have gone from a size 26 to a curvy size 14!


Buying clothes is now a delight, not a dread. Eating out is easy. I'm feeling the most attractive and sexy in my life at nearly 52 years of age. I’m seven weeks away from being one year Paleo. I have a target of reaching 100lbs weight loss by August 1st. I’m planning a fab party with lots of fab Paleo food to celebrate.

Matt and I have now also developed a workshop about overcoming overeating. We just had our first six people come though and they are all on the 30-day challenge doing well.

I never expected to see the day when I would be a role model for healthy eating. I love eating. I can’t stand the gimmicky meal replacements, juice or shake diets. It’s all a big diet industry geared up to making money.

All we need to do is eat good quality food in good healthy amounts. In the end it comes down to what are you choosing, are you attached to that fat? Do you want to really break the cycle of punishing yourself with food?

I finally did and look at me now! I’m hot!

Jacquie Johnston Lynch and Matt Gunn are staging three workshops about overcoming over eating over the next eight months. For more information email here.

Jj2A family affair: Jacquie and son , left, last week and in the same place on Bold Street 10 months ago.

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Patricia ObrienApril 17th 2014.

so inspirational as always jacqie its a privelege to have known you for a long time ,ever since we met on second chance to learn you have always strived to be a success but most of all you have always strived to help people ,so glad youve achieved happiness in your life ,long may it go on good luck in everything you do xxxxx

AnonymousApril 17th 2014.

It's an inspiration to anyone who thinks they can't do.

Jeffrey LoweryApril 18th 2014.

Congratulations to an amazing woman on an extraordinary achievement! Continued success and much love to my friend on the other side of the pond. -Jeffrey Lowery, San Francisco Bay Area

DavidApril 27th 2014.

Again and again and again you never cease to amaze and inspire me!! Love you JJL x David Ryan

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