Martina Coogan was baffled when she kept gaining weight, despite swearing she was not overeating – but now, she has transformed her body for good.
A holistic health expert who swears her weight rose to 20 stone without overeating has shed nearly eight-and-a-half stone – “the equivalent of a person” – by working out in a pressure chamber.
It was not until she reached her late teens that Martina Coogan, 47, started to gain weight and, despite eating well and controlling her portion-sizes, in the following years, she saw her waistline expand until she hit 20st in her late thirties, and wore a size 22.
But in June 2017, distressed by news that a family member who was just six weeks her senior had passed away, vowing to become super-healthy, Martina, of Lancaster Gate, west London, was introduced to revolutionary vacuum technology to sculpt the body, helping her to transform her shape.
Martina before her weight loss (PA Real Life/Collect)
As well as trying vacuum workouts at central London’s state-of-the-art HYPOXI Knightsbridge slimming clinic, she also discovered after seeing their dietician and using a DNA kit, that she could not process carbs or burn fat and had a protein deficiency that had severely affected her metabolism.
Now a svelte size 10 to 12, after losing 8st 6lb, she said: “It wasn’t like I was eating huge portions when I was big. People would always comment on how little I ate – but I just couldn’t seem to stop gaining weight.
“It was so frustrating and being bigger meant I was self-conscious.”
She continued: “But now, I know through my dietician that, because I wasn’t getting any protein, my body basically clung onto anything I did eat, almost as if it was in starvation mode. As a result, my metabolism pretty much just froze.
“Now though, I feel so much better. I’m more confident, more energised, and have finally figured out once and for all how my body works.”
Martina, who runs a holistic centre in Notting Hill, west London, where she both trains practitioners and treats patients, told how as a youngster, she lived a healthy outdoorsy lifestyle on the farm where she grew up.
Then, after discovering where the meat she had been eating had come from, aged 16, she turned vegetarian, saying: “I found out I’d eaten meat from animals from the farm, who I had literally spoken to that day.”
But she now believes her change in eating habits triggered her weight gain, because of the lack of protein in her meat and fish free diet.
She continued: “I just couldn’t work out why I was getting bigger. It started when I was about 16 and people kept saying to me that it could be hormonal, but I had all sorts of tests and nothing out of the ordinary was flagged.”
She added: “No matter what I ate, no matter how small my portions were, I just kept gaining weight. It was so disheartening.”
Eventually, in 2017, Martina’s wake-up call came in the form of some sad family news.
“I got a call to say a relative who was just six weeks older than me had passed away,” she added. “I remember thinking that I really had to change and start looking after myself better.”
“So, I got online and started looking up things that could help. Through Google, I found HYPOXI and decided it was worth a try.”
HYPOXI, which counts former Girls Aloud star Cheryl Tweedy amongst its celebrity fans, is a body shaping method that applies the principle of cupping and compression through gentle 30-minute workouts inside a vacuum device.
People who have the HYPOXI treatment – usually given in a 12 session block costing from £600, following a consultation – can either target a specific area, like the stomach or thighs, or opt to sculpt their whole body.
After her initial consultation, Martina was given a tailored plan, only to discover that, despite two weeks of rigorously following it, she had not lost a pound.
She said: “I went back for a follow-up consultation and the clinician, who was very intuitive, took one look at me and said, ‘Something isn’t right.’
“She asked if I had definitely been following the plan to the letter, which I had, then told me that she was going to refer me to a dietician instead.”
“I was reluctant at first. I felt I’d seen every specialist there was, but she said she cared about me and wanted me to get the right help.”
So, Martina met with a dietician on London’s famous Harley Street, who explained to her that, as she had been lacking protein in her diet, her metabolism was not working as quickly as it should.
“It meant my body was just clinging to any weight it could,” she said.
Given a protein supplement, Martina saw her energy levels rocket, finally enabling her to work out effectively in her HYPOXI sessions, during which she would use a standing or lying bike or a treadmill, built into a pressure chamber, while being hooked up to a monitor to track her heart rate.
With protein reintroduced to her diet, Martina – who was also invited to take a fitness-based DNA test, which would highlight any intolerances or sensitivities she was genetically predisposed to – soon saw astonishing results.
“That was absolutely fascinating,” she said. “It turned out I had this whole list of foods I shouldn’t have been eating. For example, my body can’t process and break down carbs or caffeine, and I’m also lacking a type of fat burning gene.”
The test Martina took came with a tailored meal plan, which she soon adopted, meaning she has now cut carbs from her diet and eats a little an often – up to seven meals a day, rather than three big ones.
“I’ll start with a protein shake, then eat every two or so hours throughout the day, things like salads or protein bars,” she added.
Having shed “the weight of an entire person,” Martina is now feeling better than ever, both in terms of her confidence, and her physical wellbeing.
Martina now, after losing more than eight stone (PA Real Life/Collect)
She concluded: “I wish I’d known all this years ago, but I understand how my body works now.
“HYPOXI has been brilliant for me. It’s targeted towards women and can help with so many things – even down to injuries which maybe prevent you working out in a normal gym.
“I’ve completely transformed my diet and fitness regime – and weirdly, actually eat more now than I did when I was big. Still, I am feeling amazing.”
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