Young mum Lois battles rare illness to get out wheelchair and run 10k
A MUM of two from Gwynedd who was paralysed from the waist down by a rare condition has gone on to run a 10k and become a weight-loss champion.
Lois Morgan-Pritchard battled Guillain-Barré Syndrome to climb out of a wheelchair then and now the 33-year-old beautician was successfully put through her paces for S4C’s popular FFIT Cymru series, made by Caernarfon-based Cwmni Da.
But for anyone fighting a losing battle with the scales after the festive season there’s good news as Cwmni Da are looking for new entrants for the next series of the popular reality show.
Cwmni Da’s Siwan Haf said: “FFIT Cymru are keen to receive applications from people of any background, and we especially welcome applications from people from ethnic minority communities, disabled or deaf people, and people who identify as LGBTQ+.
“FFIT Cymru has demonstrated over the last four years that it’s a life-changing experience which transforms a person’s health for the better.”
Lois, from Y Ffor, near Pwllheli, is happy to encourage them after she dropped three dress sizes as one of the stars of Season Four of the show.
But she had faced her first fitness test 12 years earlier when a visit to a nightclub ended with her paralysed and in hospital with the serious syndrome affects the nerves, feet, hand and limbs, causing numbness, weakness and pain.
The young primary school teacher was told she might never walk again but fought her way back to fitness, helped by future husband, Huw, but she admits her second test, to get fit again after two children was more self-inflicted.
Lois, who has switched careers to follow her dream to run a beauty business, Lolfa Lois, in Y Ffor, tipped the scales at 15 stone two pounds when she was originally chosen from hundreds of applicants for a place on FFIT Cymru.
Now those size 20 clothes have been consigned to the charity shop and Lois, a trim size 14 and three stone lighter, said: “When I applied for the show I was feeling really down and wouldn’t look in the mirror any more.
“I thought of everyone else before me and just felt I’d let myself go and because of my medical history I wasn’t as strong and fit as I should be so this was my chance to go for it.
“But without the programme I wouldn’t be where I am now and I still get up at half past six in the morning for a live workout with the programme’s fitness coach.
“There’s no gimmicks to it. It’s hard work and sticking to the plan and now I enjoy my life again.”
She added: “I remember when I was in hospital I had just started going out with Huw and my parents actually met him by my hospital bed.
“I couldn’t stand or move my arms but he has been amazing and been by my side through everything.
“I was quite big when I had that attack but I got really fit and was in the gym every day to get my posture back and learn to walk again but then I let myself go again.”
The couple’s two children had arrived in the meantime – Gethin is now four and Owain one-and-a-half – and Lois knew she needed to make a life change.
She said: “FFIT Cymru gave me the kick-start I needed. I already knew what it was like to be stuck in a bed unable to do anything and just watching life pass me by and when I decide to go for something I really do.
“I did a parachute jump in Australia with a broken foot so I had to land on my bum.
“When I was getting fit again, I ran a 10k with Huw and the kids following me in the car, giving me pieces of banana.
“I’m the sort of person who is up for a laugh and up for a challenge and I give 100 per cent to whatever I do and jump in the deep end.”
Lois was put through her paces on the programme, including wild swimming at Llanberis and abseiling down a rockface at Betws y Coed and she said: “I’ve been wild swimming and I’m going to do it again when the weather warms up.
“The beauty salon is going very well and I’m very busy but I have much more energy and feel much better about myself.
“I used to just flop down on the sofa with some food after work but now I am on the floor playing with my children.
“I’m healthier now and enjoying life and having more time with the family. It feels like everything has fallen into place.”
Lois’s challenge featured on FFIT Cymru: 6 Mis Wedyn which was shown on S4C in early December and Cwmni Da are now keen to recruit Leaders for the fifth series of Ffit Cymru with the deadline for applications on February 6, 2022.
For more information and to arrange an informal conversation, contact the production team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The programme was also a life changing experience for a father of three who has gone from his couch to 5K.
Sion Huw Davies, who lives in Prestatyn and teaches Welsh at Sir Richard Gwyn School, in Flint, had seen his weight balloon to 23 stone before he took the plunge and signed up to FFIT Cymru.
Now 50-year-old Sion, a father of three who hails from Flint, a much healthier and happier man at 19 stone, has even built up his own collection of colourful medals from a series of 5K races over the last few months.
He said: “The last six months haven’t all been easy but I’m happy to be back on the right track with the support of my wife and my rock, Rachel.
“Basically I was just tired of feeling and knowing I was unhealthy and that time was ticking and you just can’t sustain this lifestyle for ever.
“We’ve got three children aged eight, five and two and really I did it for my family and myself. I just bit the bullet and applied to be on the show and I’m so glad I did.”
“I had just put weight on gradually through overeating and over-indulging and it was time to stop and take stock and the programme has shown me the benefits of living a more balanced and healthier lifestyle.
“The big problem wasn’t my tummy, it was my head because by the time food gets to your tummy it’s too late. You have to change your mindset.
“I’m down to 19 stone now but my only target is to be better at the end of this month than I was at the start of the month. If I live a healthier lifestyle the weight will take care of itself.”
He puts his success down to the support he received from the experts on the show with specialist advice on mindset, nutrition and fitness all part of the programme.
He said: “The show was wonderful. The experts and their guidance really did show what I needed to do and gave me a wonderful path to follow.
“We had some tough challenges. Abseiling down an 80-foot ravine near Betws y Coed was tough because me and heights don’t go together but having to conquer that fear was immense.
“It was about embracing the fear and defeating it.”
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