Operation Transformation - meet this season's finalists hoping to change their lives
Published 13/11/2015 | 10:26
Twenty finalists have been chosen from thousands of applications to take part in the new season of Operation Transformation and the five leaders will be revealed on the Ray D'Arcy Show from next Tuesday.
In the meantime, here are the hopefuls, from a prison guard to cancer survivor, who are gearing up for the challenge under the guidance of Dr Ciara Kelly, Karl Henry, and Eddie Murphy.
Jimmy Bermingham (34) from Kilnamanagh, Co. Dublin
Height: 6ft 3in Weight: 24st
Jimmy is a prison officer, who lives at home with his parents. He is dad to his daughter Lucy Hope (2), who is his world.
Jimmy has worked in Mountjoy Prison since 2007, and really enjoys his job there. The prison offers an array of clubs and activities but James doesn’t avail of them. He does however take great advantage of the staff canteen, indulging on fried and greasy food. His favourite lunch being Cheese & Coleslaw Chips, which he has every single day.
Jimmy and his former partner Karyn lost their first child Emily at birth. This left the couple absolutely devastated and the strain it put on their relationship was irreparable. A month after their other little girl, Lucy was born, the couple decided to go their separate ways, and Jimmy moved back in with his parents. Jimmy and Karyn remain close, and share parenting of Lucy.
Jimmy loves tattoos and his arms are adorned with his favourite superheroes, as well as dedications to his two daughters.
Jimmy’s weight is starting to dictate his life. He now avoids social gatherings because he feels so self-conscience and spends most of his time in his bedroom playing computer games. He finds that he is out of breath doing simple things like getting out the car. He would love to travel, but has never even owned a passport. His biggest motivation is Lucy. He wants to be the best for her that he can be.
Ellen Brophy (34) from Kilkenny
Height: 5ft 6in Weight: 15st 11lbs
Ellen is a single stay at home mother of three small children, Kyle (6), Finn (3) and Macy (18 months). She moved to Dublin from Kilkenny to train as a nurse but didn’t complete her qualification.
Ellen knows her eating habits are terrible; admitting that all the food she and her children eat is beige (chicken nuggets, chips, chicken burgers). She feels she is a terrible influence on her children and wants to set a better example for them. She once cooked a chicken and potatoes and called her mother afterwards to celebrate!
With 3 young children, Ellen has her hands full. She feels she has used up most of her baby-sitting favours at this stage. Even managing to get out for a walk seems like “an impossible dream.” She has recently started line dancing, which she really enjoys. She writes her own make-up and parenting blog and also enjoys writing poetry.
Ellen’s approach to life has always been to face things head on and now she feels ready to tackle the one thing that’s getting the better of her, her weight.
Louise Butler Byrne (28) from Ballycullen, Co. Dublin
Height: 5ft 6in Weight: 18st 8lbs
Louise works in a busy hairdressing salon in Terenure, Dublin, where she manages a team of ten people, with a very large client base. Being a hairdresser is physically demanding, and she is beginning to feel the toll of being on her feet all day. She knows her weight isn’t helping; she can feel it in her knees and she wears out her footwear ridiculously fast.
Her clients see her as a bubbly, outgoing, carefree girl but they don’t know that most of that is just a show, and inside she dies when she catches herself in the salon mirrors.
At school she did everything in her power to avoid PE class. She hated sport, and didn’t want to do anything that made her sweaty and unfeminine. While Louise loves to dress up now, and takes real pride in her appearance, back then dressing up for discos filled her with dread. She felt her friends all looked amazing while she was dressed like someone’s mother.
Louise has recently moved in with her boyfriend of 8 years, Jack. Moving in together has brought some of her secret eating to light. Louise was left feeling mortified when Jack recently cleaned out her car for her and collected a bag full of wrappers and cartons of all the junk food she had been eating.
Louise has been a bridesmaid 3 times in the last 2 years, and the way Louise is feeling at the moment, she will always be the bridesmaid and never the bride, as she also warned her boyfriend not to propose to her until she’s comfortable with her weight.
Louise Collins (35) from Tuam, Co Galway
Height: 5ft 6in Weight:14st
Louise is married to Kieran, and is a mother of two, Matthew (10) and Ava (8). She worked full time as a hairdresser until she had her two children, and now works part-time.
In the last 6 years Louise has faced the biggest battle of her life, after she was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel and rectum. Once diagnosed, she began a series of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat the cancer. She is now cancer free but the scars of this difficult time remain and Louise will have to live the rest of her life with a stoma bag. During Louise’s treatment her weight increased a lot as a result of medication, inactivity and resorting to junk food and takeaways after long days at the hospital getting chemotherapy.
Louise would love the chance to help other people battling issues like hers such as cancer and having a stoma bag. She wants them to know that there is life after cancer and having a stoma bag isn’t something to be embarrassed about. She has beaten cancer and doesn’t want food to be the death of her.
John Conmy (47) from Bangor Erris, Co Mayo
Height: 5ft 10in Weight: 22st 10lbs
Restaurant owner, John (47) is from Bangor Erris in Co. Mayo, where he lives with his wife Evonne and daughter Amber Lillie (5).
John has a smile for everyone he meets but deep down he is miserable and worried that his weight will be the death of him, especially since developing Type 2 Diabetes in 2008.
John’s parents died when he was in his early 20s. He was working as a chef in Cork at the time but moved home to Mayo to raise his 2 teenage brothers. John has an unbreakable bond with his brothers and is very proud of how they turned out.
John is now head chef of his own restaurant Fun Bobby’s Bistro in Belmullet Co. Mayo. His weight started to rise as he worked long hours surrounded by food. John admits that days spent picking at food are also often followed by a few social pints after work. As a chef, he is aware of a lot of the mistakes he is making but feels Operation Transformation is exactly what he needs to put his plans for a healthier lifestyle into action.
Damien Dillon (42) from Birr, Co Offaly
Height: 6ft 1in Weight: 19st 8lbs
Cancer survivor, Damien (42) is married to Valerie and is dad to Corey (11). He lives in Birr, Co. Offaly and works as rehabilitation assistant with people who have brain injuries.
Damien loves his work, and could work up to 60 hours a week. This causes problems for him when it comes to his routine, as his roster changes between day and night shifts. He has developed a lot of bad eating habits in work, gorging on buns, biscuits and bars of chocolate.
At 33, Damien was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Since then, he has beaten the cancer twice. He has been cancer free since February but the treatment for the disease has taken its toll on his body. The steroids that he had to take made it very hard to keep his weight under control.
At the moment Damien’s confidence is at all time low, and now he wants to make a change for the better. He has beaten cancer twice and he’s not going to allow his weight to get the better of him.
Lucy Dillon (24) from Clonmellon, Co. Meath
Height: 5ft 10in Weight: 17st 4lbs
Young mum, Lucy spends her time juggling her job as a hotel reservation executive, helping her father to run the family business and caring for her daughter Molly (1) alongside her partner Conor.
Lucy is originally from Kells Co. Meath, where her dad Pat runs an open farm and shop. The family also run Spooktacular, one of the country’s biggest Halloween attractions. Planning for the event begins in May and it’s all hands on deck for Lucy, her dad and two brothers.
Lucy has always battled with her weight but it has been particularly hard since losing her mother, Therese to lung cancer over 3 years ago. Less than a month after she died Lucy started her college course in Event Management. She worked hard in College and relied on junk food to keep her going.
Molly was born 2 year’s later on Lucy’s mother’s birthday, a very emotional day for the whole family. Lucy feels a huge amount of guilt that she didn’t spend enough time with her mum before she died. She comfort eats all the time, and often gets up in the middle of the night to have a couple of bars of chocolate.
Lucy wants to ditch the crash diets and comfort eating once and for all and get the real her back so that she can feel like 24 rather than 44!
Ross Dunne (33) from Newbridge, Co. Kildare
Height: 5ft 6in Weight: 16st 8lbs
Ross works as a graphic designer and lives in Newbridge with his wife Pam and their two daughters Masie (4) and Sadie (16 months).
He loves his job but finds commuting to and from Dublin tough going and he hates not having more time with the girls in the evenings.
Ross is presently in the worse physical shape of his life. He finds this quite frustrating, as he was a man who had a 6 pack less than 4 years ago. He was health conscience and took pride in his body. He was an avid weight lifter and loved boxing and rugby. Now he can’t even play with his kids or run up the stairs without getting out of breath and breaking into a sweat.
While they are very strict on what their children eat, Ross and Pam are easier on themselves. Both juggling busy jobs, they resort to ordering Chinese Takeaways up to 3 nights a week (once the kids are in bed). They do have a home cooked meal at least once a week when they eat at Ross’s mum’s house.
Ross feels like he is a disappointment to his little girls. His dream is to lose weight and gain the right tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle for him and his young family.
Josephine Farrell (51) from Kilmacow, Co. Kilkenny
Height: 5ft 9in Weight: 14st
Josephine is a busy married mum of two. She works as a secretary in a local primary school, and runs her own baking business ‘Josephine’s Cakery’ on the side.
Josephine is from Waterford originally, but moved to Co. Kilkenny after she married Peter in 2008. Their children Rachel (6) and Adam (4) followed soon after.
Weight was never a problem for Josephine until 2011 when many different events in her life conspired against her. They welcomed their son that year, but his birth was not an easy one, as Adam’s lung collapsed and he had to be resuscitated. He was kept in neonatal care for a few weeks afterwards. Josephine herself was admitted to hospital later that year, to have her gallbladder removed. Her grandmother also passed away, which was a huge loss for Josephine, as they were very close.
Since her annus horribilis Josephine has turned to comfort eating and hasn’t stopped since. The extent of her comfort eating became evident to her when her jeans recently split open.
Josephine’s part time baking business doesn’t help matters. Baking cakes involves a lot of tastings so when the kitchen is taken over with her cakes, it’s just easier to get a take away rather than putting everything away to make dinner. This could happen 3 – 4 nights a week.
Josephine feels ready to make a complete lifestyle change and helping to inspire others to do the same would be the icing on the cake!
Megan Glavin (21) from Cappoquin, Co. Waterford
Height: 5ft 7in Weight: 15st 12lbs
Megan is part-time waitress from Cappoquin in Co Waterford, and is studying pre-nursing in Dungarvan. She lives at home with her mother Bernadette, a canteen cook in a local factory, and her 2 teenage sisters Jessica (18) & Clodagh (16), who are both in secondary school. Her parents are separated, but her dad Declan lives locally, and they see him every day. Megan is dating her boyfriend Edward for over a year now.
Megan comes from a huge family (over 40 first cousins and over a dozen Aunts and Uncles) who all live locally within a 5-mile radius. While she loves her big family, she doesn’t look forward to the many family gatherings as much as she should. She always feels like the ugly duckling, as she is the heaviest of all her cousins and aunts and an upcoming family wedding in May 2016 has her in a panic over what to wear.
She used to love playing camogie but felt that they put her full forward, as “that was the only place that you could put a heavy girl”. Her 2 sisters both are/have played on inter-county teams. Megan eats ‘disgusting food’, according to herself, and she was quite shocked seeing it all on paper when completing her application form. Her diet mainly consists of chipper food, bread and crisps. Fizzy drinks are also a downfall. She even brings a glass of fizzy orange to bed with her most nights. Megan is tired putting on a show and needs to tackle her weight in order to feel truly happy in herself.
Dan Kennedy (44) from Beaumont, Co. Dublin
Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 19st
Bachelor, Dan lives with his mother Kay (79) in their family home in Beaumont, Co. Dublin. He admits to being spoilt rotten by his mother, who still does all his cooking, washing and ironing.
Dan works part time as an administrator for the Athletic Union League and also volunteers with FAI looking after members of the national team when they are in Dublin.
Football is a huge part of Dan’s life. He was a talented footballer, having even attended trials for English Premier League clubs in his teens, but gave up playing when he was 33 when the opportunity to manage his team arose. Instead of being out on the field, where he once thrived, he now spends his free time watching football in bed and with no regular exercise in his life the weight has continued to increase.
When Dan was 5 years old, his father, also named Dan, died of a massive heart attack at only 45 years of age. Dan himself turns 45 next year, which is weighing heavily on him. Growing up without a father had a huge impact on Dan, as he missed having his dad on the sidelines at matches. Dan feels he didn’t reach his true potential in football and his dream is to get fit enough to line out for the Republic of Ireland Masters.
Noeleen Lynam (50) from Raharney, Co. Westmeath
Height: 5ft 3ins Weight: 11st 10lbs
Single lady, Noeleen is a primary school vice-principal living in Co. Westmeath.
Noeleen wants to take part in Operation Transformation because she needs to change her lifestyle once and for all, rather than following yet another fad diet. Preparing home cooked healthy meals for one every night can be a bit of a challenge. She has gained two stone in 2 years and feels that if she doesn’t get a handle on it now, she never will.
Noeleen is heavily involved in Musical Theatre and considers the Leixlip Musical & Variety Group to be a like second family. She used to dance in their shows but now her dancing is limited to watching Strictly Come Dancing.
As a teacher, Noeleen hopes to be a role model for the children in her school. She’s seen firsthand how poor diet and lack of exercise is affecting a large number of Irish children. She doesn’t wants to be a hypocrite, telling them what they should be doing, when she doesn’t do it herself.
Noeleen wants to embrace her 50s, feeling happy with her body for once. She wants to be fit, healthy and toned, and enjoy the next phase of her life with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible.
Mairead McDonnell (43) from Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Height: 5ft 5in Weight: 15st
Mairead is a busy working mother to Ryan (4). She has been married to Shane for the last 5 years, and works for a dental insurance company.
After many years trying, their son Ryan came along in 2011 and changed their lives forever. He recently started national school, and Mairead can see that he’s already picked up some of her bad eating habits. While she sets rules such as ‘sweets only on a Saturday’ they end up finding loopholes, such as having crisps instead.
Mairead is also a smoker and worries that between that and her weight, she feels she is putting her health at risk. At only 43, she feels old, lazy and tired and fears that she will die from a heart attack.
Mairead does not feel confident in her body and would love to be able to stand in front of her husband feeling sexy and attractive and maybe even buy a little something for a romantic weekend away! Mairead loves music and drama and spends her evenings rehearsing with the local choir or with the drama club where they’re currently performing Fiddler on the Roof and preparing for the Christmas pantomime.
Kathryn Nea (23) from Castletown Geoghegan, Co. Westmeath
Height: 5ft 7in Weight: 22st
Bride to be, Kathryn lives with her girlfriend Amée. The couple got engaged on Christmas Eve 2012 and have their wedding booked for September 2016. This is one of Kathryn’s main motivations to lose weight. She is scared to go wedding dress shopping and worries it will be hard to get a dress to fit her.
She has taken a year out of her BA Degree in Youth and Family Studies to rethink her career path.
Kathryn has struggled with her weight since she was a child. She remembers always being bigger than the other kids but it didn’t really bother her until she was in her teens. Kathryn used to love playing camogie and football as a teenager and would love to one day play these sports again.
In 2010, Kathryn slipped on ice and broke her two ankles. This left her wheelchair bound for 3 months. She lost any confidence she had and her eating got out of control. She is aware that her weight is affecting her health. She gets chronic heartburn and is constantly taking antacids. Singing is her biggest passion, but her weight is holding her back from following her dream. She has lost her confidence and feels when she stands in front of a crowd to sing they are judging her because of her weight.
Domhnall Ó Loinsigh (62) from Ennis, Co Clare
Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 20st 3lbs
Retired teacher, Domhnall is married to Sheelagh, and together they run a 16 bedroom guesthouse in Ennis, Co. Clare. They have 3 grown up children, Colm, Eoghan and Síle.
In 1983 Domhnall helped establish the local Gaelscoil in Ennis, where he worked as Principal until he retired in 2005. He is well known locally and is very active in promoting the Irish Language in the community. Last summer he took over as general manager of a Coláiste Gaeilge (Irish Summer College) in Carrigaholt, and he has really enjoyed being back involved in education.
Domhnall is the only one in the family with weight issues. His weight has fluctuated over the years and he now he is the heaviest he has ever been. Sheelagh is very worried about Domhnall’s health. She often finds him asleep in a chair in the middle of the day and he finds it hard to climb the 4 flights of stairs in their home. Sheelagh on the other hand is very fit and recently received her black belt in Tae Kown-Do.
Last January, Domhnall organised a large walking group called Coisithe an Chláir to coincide with Operation Transformation. With the support of over 100 locals in the group, Domhnall lost over 2 stone, and was feeling fantastic, but as time went on he fell out of his routine and has put back on all the weight and more. One habit he has managed to kick, is his addiction to Lucozade, which he no longer drinks, having previously consumed 3 -4 bottle a day.
Domhnall feels his weight is now affecting his everyday life and his golf ‘has gone to pot’ as a result. He knows he has what it takes to lose weight and this year he’s determined to make it last.
Clare Scanlan (39) from Monagea, Co Limerick
Height: 5ft 7in Weight: 16st 5lbs
Working mum, Clare, is originally from West Cork, but moved to Limerick when she married Tom. They have two children Liam (11) and Caoimhe (10). Clare works in telesales for a food wholesaler.
Clare has struggled with her weight all her life, putting on a bit of weight after each pregnancy. While she was very sporty in her youth, Clare now finds it very hard to get motivated about anything. Chocolate and biscuits are her downfall; she can’t have a cup of tea without having a couple of biscuits.
Clare’s eldest son Darra passed away 4 years ago from SAD (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome), when he was only 15 years old. Darra was a happy teenager, who was always active and loved nothing more than playing football and soccer. Since Darra’s funeral, Clare feels she is just existing rather than really living her life. She misses Darra terribly and was very angry at his loss for a time but now just feels broken. Life has continued around her; bills still need to be paid and Liam and Caoimhe still need to be brought to school every morning. She has kept going as best she can for her children but hasn’t had any energy to put into herself. She is stuck in a rut, with her weight creeping up all the time. Clare hopes that tackling her weight will be the first step in learning to feel happy and start enjoying life again.
Denis Smyth (52) from Tallanstown, Co Louth
Height: 5ft 9in Weight: 18st 2lbs
Businessman Denis is married to Trish and they have 3 teenage daughters Grainne (17), Eimear (16) and Ciara (14). He runs a business selling Garden Power tools, a business he took over from his father.
Denis’s daughters are very active and all play sport. They are very worried about his health. They even tried to get him to follow Operation Transformation last year, presenting him with his personalised spread sheets and schedules to try and keep him on track. He started well but as the weeks went by he started to slip.
This year Denis knows he needs to make serious changes. His mentality is that life is for living and you need to enjoy it so he wants to make sustainable changes to his life but not feel like he’s on a diet. Denis eats quite healthily at home, under the close eye of his Trish and the girls, but his downfall is the snacks he eats when he’s on the go. He also drinks a lot of his calories, drinking up to 4 bottles of lucozade a day, and he loves having a few pints after work.
Denis was inspired to apply to Operation Transformation by the Louth Ladies Football Team, who won the intermediate All-Ireland earlier this year.
David Spain (33) from Kiltipper, Co Dublin
Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 20st 11lbs
Sales Rep, David is married to Julie and dad to Ben (7), Charlie (5) and Lucy (3).
In April 2010, while Julie was expecting their second child, David was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The following months were very tough as he battled the cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy but the treatment was successful and he is now cancer free. He still has regular checkups every 6 months since and has his next one in December.
David’s job involves being on the road constantly, which makes eating properly a challenge. He describes his car as his office and his canteen. He generally eats quick and easy food. His wife Julie does cook healthy dinners and tries to encourage him to try new foods but he is a very fussy eater.
David has recently started to coach his sons’ soccer team, and he absolutely loves it. He wants to become a positive role model for them along with all the kids on the team. At the moment he feels he is slowing his kids down and he hates that. Having overcome cancer, he is determined not to let his weight get in the way of a long and happy life with his wife and children.
Patricia Summerly (47) from Waterford City
Height: 5ft 4in Weight: 21st
Patricia is a divorced mother of two to Chris (24) and C-Jay (18). She is originally from the UK but moved to Ireland over 10 years ago.
Patricia has had many different careers over the years, but went back to study nursing 4 years ago as a mature student and absolutely loved it. She is now a mental health nurse and is currently working on night shifts.
As a nurse, Patricia knows the damage she is doing and is worried about her own health. Both of her parents struggled with their weight and died from heart problems within a year of each other. Her younger sister also died of a heart attack. Patricia fears she is heading in the same direction.
Patricia grew up on deep-fried food and while this is not the case for her family today, Patricia still feels that they have a lot of changes to make. Patricia sees herself as lazy. Her daily eating habits consist of cigarettes, cups of tea, chocolate and a big dinner.
Life hasn’t been easy but she now feels ready to do something about it. Patricia has always puts herself to the bottom of the list and wants that to change now for the first time ever.
Gill Sweetman (41) from Mornington, Co Meath
Height: 5ft 7in Weight: 16st 6lbs
Busy working mum, Gill is originally from Balbriggan but living in Co. Meath with her husband Craig, and their 2 sons Toby (8) and Tyler (5). She now works for a car rental company at Dublin airport. Craig also works at the airport as an Airport Police and Fire Officer. Despite being based in the same location, they are like passing ships in the night, as they often work on different shifts. Gill’s shift at work can start at 5am, and she often skips meals, which doesn’t help her weight.
Before settling back in Ireland, both Gill and Craig worked as Airline Cabin Crew and travelled the world together. Back then, Gill was a size 8 but she gained weight after each of her pregnancies and it has continued to creep up ever since. Her biggest vice is hot chocolate. She loves it with whipped cream and marshmallows and could have up to 3 cups a day.
Craig loves cycling and he trains all the time. Gill used to always go along to support Craig at races but is now too embarrassed because of her weight. Her two boys are also very active and love to play GAA. When they go hiking as a family, Gill always lags behind and her biggest fear in life is not being able to keep up with her family. Toby and Tyler would rather she was on Ireland’s Fittest Families than Operation Transformation.