Thursday 29 September 2016

Operation Transformation leaders share their health and fitness goals

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

OT team leaders: (l-r) Dan Kennedy, Claire Scanlon, Lucy Dillon, Noeleen Lynam and John Conmy.
OT team leaders: (l-r) Dan Kennedy, Claire Scanlon, Lucy Dillon, Noeleen Lynam and John Conmy.

As the ever-popular weight-loss show returns to RTE tonight, we asked this year's leaders what led them to take part - and what they hope to achieve

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Dan Kennedy (44), from Beaumont, Dublin

"I gave up smoking three months ago, so I decided it was also time to lose some weight. My father passed away at the age of 45, and I'm coming up to that age.

I applied to the show because my friend sent me a link and told me it would be brilliant for me if I got to be a leader - at 19 stone, the fact dad died of a heart attack weighs on my mind.

I used to play a lot of soccer, attending trials in the UK for the Premier League. But I gave it all up when I was 33.

I've never really tried dieting or getting bit before, so this is my first time.

I live with my mother, and she and the rest of my family and friends are 100pc behind me. My mother does all the cooking at the moment, that might change!

I think the public get so involved with Operation Transformation because they can see this is the real thing - we're all really trying to get in shape and lose weight - I'm going to have a camera following me all the time, so in this case, what you see on TV is going to be the real thing.

My end goal is to lose a couple of stone, feel better in and about myself and continue on my mission - even after the programme finishes."

Clare Scanlan (39), from Monagea, Co Limerick

"I applied for Operation Transformation because I was totally fed up with being overweight. I had tried to lose weight myself but had no luck. I stopped caring when my son Darra died in December 2011 from SADS.

My husband Tom encouraged me to apply and with his backing, and that of my kids Liam (11) and Caoimhe (10), I felt confident enough to do so.

The Irish public as I'm learning pretty quickly do seem to have taken this show to their hearts. Maybe it's because the leaders are just ordinary people who lost their way. The public can relate to that, because we all lose our way I suppose.

Also the plan is very accessible and the advice you get from the experts is incredible. In the economy we live in, I don't think there is many people who can pay for advice like that.

My target is to take it week by week - I'm not looking to six months' time or even a year. I'm 16st 5lb now and when I stand up on the scales every week I plan to lose whatever it is I'm told to lose. I'll be following the plan and doing what I'm told. I want to be happier, healthier and to reignite the spark in myself that's been lost."

Lucy Dillon (24), from Clonmelon in Co Westmeath

"The past few years I watched the show and would have loved to be on the other side. I've gained weight - I'm 17st - and can't seem to shift it no matter what diet I do, and having a busy lifestyle as a working mum means I find it hard to plan and prepare in advance.

I was always overweight growing up, and it became normal for me to rely on wearing tracksuits day in, day out. Then as a teen I fell in love with sport both in my school and locally - at once stage I was on six different teams.

It was a huge part of my life until I started working in the hospitality industry. My hours were never set, each day and week is different, and it meant leaving sports aside and making work my main priority, as well as college.

I gave birth to my daughter last October on my mother's birthday - she died in 2012, so that was very special to me. But since then I'm always on the go and never make a minute for myself which results in being stressed and eating on the run.

I've never had balance in my life, which is what pushed me to apply for the show. I now want to lose a total of three stone, half during the show and the rest after. I think Irish people love Operation Transformation because everybody can relate to others when it's out in the open whereas a lot of people hide how they are feeling."

Noeleen Lynam (51), Raharney, Co Westmeath

"I'm a primary teacher in Baconstown School, Co Meath, and I've probably been on a diet of some sort since I was 16-years-old. In that time, I think I've lost my body weight about twice.

When I look back at old photos, I wonder what I was thinking. If I had an event coming up such as a wedding or holiday, I would be very good for a week or two and I would lose a few pounds. But once the event was over I'd go back to my old ways and the weight would pile on again.

However in recent years my weight continued to creep up and now I weigh 11st 3lb. People said it was my age and that there was nothing I could do about it, but I refuse to believe that.

I have always been a big fan of Operation Transformation. In fact, I have their food plans and recipes from the past few years all neatly filed away in a folder.

So when the application form came out this year I filled it out and sent it away before the nerves could set in and make me change my mind.

Whereas once I went on a diet for vanity reasons, to look good or fit into a particular dress, now my focus is on reaching a healthy weight.

I want this body to be hale and hearty for many decades to come. If becoming toned and super hot is a side effect of this plan, well I suppose I'll just have to grin and bear it!

John Conmy (47), from Bangor Erris, Co Mayo

"When I was younger I was quite a good footballer and woud have played to a high level so that kept me in shape. But like everyone, I started working and had less spare time, got caught up in it all and lost sight of staying fit.

I'm a workaholic, and often do 18-hour days running a bar and restaurant. I'd go home at night, bang a pizza in the oven, open a bottle of red wine and hit the hay at 2am, before getting back up at 6am. It became my lifestyle and my routine, so over time it added the weight on.

Nowadays I'm a Type 2 diabetic and weigh 22 stone 10lb. My parents both died when I was quite young, but I want to be around for a long time yet. I've tried to lose weight before, and I succeeded in shedding five stone for my wedding in 2003 to Yvonne. But with my lifestyle the weight just crept back on. I tried to get back in to it a couple of times over the past two years, but I just couldn't find the willpower. While I want to lose 14 or 16 inches from around my waist, I know that it's the six inches between my two ears that are important to get straight - if I get them, I'm on to a winner.

I'm doing Operation Transformation because I think it will really help me. I want to be around to walk my five-year-old daughter Amber Lily down the aisle - when she's 37 or 38! But I think this format will suit me because any chef worth their salt has an ego, it's what makes us tick. I'm competitive by nature, so it's very important to me to succeed. I'm not looking forward to prancing about in lycra on television, but if that's what it takes!

For me it's the last chance saloon - either this works, or I'll be this weight for the rest of my life, and my life will be considerably shorter. I will miss socialising, but it's time to get my ass in gear. I want to lose about two-and-a-half stone during the programme, and nine stone by the time Mayo win the All Ireland next year!"

Noeleen Lynam (51), Raharney, Co Westmeath

"I'm a primary teacher in Baconstown School, Co Meath, and I've probably been on a diet of some sort since I was 16-years-old. In that time, I think I've lost my body weight about twice.

When I look back at old photos, I wonder what I was thinking. If I had an event coming up such as a wedding or holiday, I would be very good for a week or two and I would lose a few pounds. But once the event was over I'd go back to my old ways and the weight would pile on again.

However in recent years my weight continued to creep up and now I weigh 11st 3lb. People said it was my age and that there was nothing I could do about it, but I refuse to believe that.

I have always been a big fan of Operation Transformation. In fact, I have their food plans and recipes from the past few years all neatly filed away in a folder. So when the application form came out this year I filled it out and sent it away before the nerves could set in and make me change my mind.

Whereas once I went on a diet for vanity reasons, to look good or fit into a particular dress, now my focus is on reaching a healthy weight. I want this body to be hale and hearty for many decades to come. If becoming toned and super hot is a side effect of this plan, well I suppose I'll just have to grin and bear it!"

Ask the experts

Fitness guru Karl Henry

My advice is to pick an exercise that you enjoy - if that means trying a few, so be it!

Also make sure you have a cheat meal each week, and enjoy it guilt free. We can't be saintly all the time.

Psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy

Develop Your Big Hairy Audacious Goal! Not just any goal, but a strong vision that's good for you and for others. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and ask yourself, what would I do if I wasn't afraid? And overall, believe that change is possible.

Dietitian Aoife Hearne

Keep a food diary. By writing down what you eat you become more aware of all the food (and the drinks) you actually have in a day. When you write it down, suddenly you become more connected with what is really happening.

Also, pick one thing to change. Altering your lifestyle can feel very overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of things to change. My advice is to start with just one thing. Use your food diary to help identify the changes you want to make, and then move down the list!

GP Dr Ciara Kelly

Make a plan. Identify what your downfall is and plan to deal with that - so if it's skipping breakfast and snacking late at night sort that first. If it's never exercising, tackle that.

Also expect to fail and have to start again. If the first time you fall off the wagon, you think all is lost you will never sustain change. Just get back on board as fast as you can.

Operation Transformation is on RTE One tonight at 8.30pm

Irish Independent

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