One year on from Operation Transformation, Deirdre Hosford is still losing weight.
LAST year was a big year for Deirdre Hosford. She was pregnant with her second son, Cian. Like all new mothers, the 33-year-old from Cork had put on some weight with both her pregnancies. Then her father died suddenly.
Two weeks after the birth of her second son, she decided it was time to take action.
“I was just so sick of being overweight. My father had died suddenly. He was a healthy man. I thought, I have to get myself sorted.”
She sent an application form to RTE’s ‘Operation Transformation’.
“I told nobody. Then last December Kathryn Thomas appeared at my door.”
Deirdre had been chosen as a leader.
“I’ve watched ‘Operation Transformation’ from the very start and, I’m not joking here, I would watch it from the couch with a packet of biscuits in my hand, saying: ‘Aren’t they great?’ Last year, I just got to the point where I had to take my weight into control because it was just going to spiral.”
Before her father died, she wasn’t too concerned about her weight.
“I think because I had always been big I wasn’t so consumed by it. I worked the weight down and I was trying to do something about it, but it wasn't bothering me so much. I was a new mother and just getting used to that. Everything was about the kids and I was grabbing a slice of toast or finishing his dinner.”
Also, Deirdre had been overweight since adolescence.
“I’ve been heavy since I was 14. I was a really skinny child, but when I hit puberty, over the course of three months I just expanded. I steadily gained weight, and was about 17 stone when I was 21. I never went below a size 18 and at my biggest I was a 22. I was a size 18-20 when I started the show. I just thought, God, if I leave things I’ll be the size of the house.”
When her father died suddenly, she knew something had to change. “He was always overweight, but in the months previous he had lost about five stone. He was off all of his medication and was feeling great and literally just dropped dead. I wanted to do this from the health perspective rather than an aesthetic one.”
However, there was an aspect to it that would make her feel good about herself. “The politically correct answer is I wanted to be around for my children, but the other side is I wanted to look good in clothes. I wanted to feel 33 again.
“There was an element of trying rediscover myself. With two young children and taking care of them you can get lost. I was sick of being frumpy and being in black. There was definitely an element of wanting to get myself back.”
Deirdre was 14st 6lbs when she started the show and she went down to 12 stone 10lbs by the end of the show, the lowest weight she had ever been in her adult life. She has now lost four stone in total, weighing 10st 6lbs and is now a size 12. When she saw the results after the show she thought: “I’m going to keep going.
“It’s easy to put on weight when pregnant,” says Deirdre.
“When I was pregnant. I said the usual things like, ‘oh, the baby wants chocolate.’ I got pregnant again quite quickly after our first child and there was a stressful end to the pregnancy.”
As someone who had always been overweight, Deirdre says a lot of her success is about education. “It’s a lot about educating yourself. Simple things. Before I’d think I’d love a snack in the evening and I’d instantly go to the chocolate or crisps. Now, I have a Pink Lady apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter. That will keep me full for an hour whereas with chocolate or crisps I might be hungry again in 10 minutes.
“We did nutrition on the show and I hate honing in on calories but you just learn to use your food more wisely. I look back at myself thinking what was I doing and how I was feeding my children?”
DEIRDRE has been so inspired by her experience that she is about to finish a personal trainer course in her local gym. Her experience on ‘Operation Transformation’ has changed how she eats, but it has also completely changed how her family eats.
Her husband, Will, who is a garda, now works out with her and they all eat the same food as a family. “We train together at home. He was a really good guinea pig when I was working out programmes,” she laughs.
“I actually really enjoyed the exercises and lost two stone in the eight weeks. I just ended up getting fit,” Will says.
“There was no point in me eating other foods if she was trying to do a diet. I wanted to support her.”
There is still space for treats in their life, says Deirdre.
“The kids are kids, so they still have their treats, but they eat what we eat and I’m much more conscious of their activity levels so they get less TV and computer time now and a lot more out and about time. Even if you can’t get outside, if it’s a wet day, I try to keep them playing around.”
She still allows herself some treats too, but now she makes sure she works it off.
One of the most common (and devastating) after effects of massive weight loss is to put the weight back on. How did Deirdre keep it off after the cameras went away?
“It was one of the biggest things. I was so afraid the show would finish, I’d be back to square one, the support wouldn’t be there and that’s where I came to rely on myself.
“I joined New Minds Fitness Educo Gym in Cork. I lost 30 inches in three months after the show. That’s why I’m so into weights because of the weight loss. I just put the head down.
‘I started the personal trainer course and I thought, at least I can use it for myself even if I don’t train anyone else. In the process of doing it, I found a love of exercise and it’s all very positive, which solved the whole issue of, ‘would I be able to keep it off?’. There is a time after the show where the cameras go and the support ebbs away.”
Was there pressure to keep the weight off in the fact that she had become a household face, that television viewers had been following her progress?
“I just thought how embarrassing would it be if I put the weight back. It’s a good motivator because you know they’re going to come back to you and they revisit you during the show, so you tell yourself, ‘don’t get fat again they’re going to come back!’
“During the show you’re in this bubble. The first week I lost half a stone. At the end I still wasn’t convinced I had lost a lot of weight. I knew I had gotten smaller but I wasn’t convinced.
“Last week, I put up a ‘before and after’ shot on my personal trainer Facebook page and that was genuinely the first time I saw it. In your head, you’re still focusing on the wobbly bits. It takes a while to get it into your head.”
Since losing the weight Deirdre’s confidence has shot up.
“I used to buy a dress and I would have to ask everyone’s
approval before I felt comfortable in the dress. Now, I go into a shop and if I like a dress that’s enough for me. It was an insecurity and I’m much more confident now.”
Her husband Will says she’s the same person but with added confidence.
“She loves going shopping for clothes now, whereas before she would never dream of doing that.”
“I train five out of seven days,” Deirdre says.
That might sound unmanageable to a tired mother with two children, but Deirdre makes it work around her family life.
“The maximum I work out for is 40 minutes. I have kids. I can’t go to the gym for two hours. I do weights. I’m big into that for toning. I have an exercise bike at home. When the kids are in bed I sit in front of the TV with one of my programmes on.
“I’ll do push ups and sit ups. I have a fit ball and I’ll do push-ups and sit-ups off that. I just use the stuff that I have at home. I get my workout done and it’s not affecting the kids. I only go to the gym twice a week.”
Deirdre will be starting work with her own clients this week and one of the pieces of advice she gives to people is to use the ad breaks between television shows to get fit.
“I’ve done it, so can you. Say you’re watching CSI. Just get up and jog on the spot during the ad breaks of an hour-long programme. If you do that, you’ll have done 12 minutes of jogging by the end of the show.
“People say they don’t have time, but you do. I can’t say I’m off to the gym and take 20 minutes to get there and back. Finding ways around that is important.”
It’s not even a full year since Deirdre started her transformation and she |says if someone had told her in January that she would be a personal trainer in October, she would have told them to stop being silly.
“I didn’t know I enjoyed exercise before because I never did it. If you asked me, I would have said I hated exercise. It was holding me back.
“Now that I’m out the other side, I have boundless energy. I haven’t got sick, I’m much better able to do stuff. We have new interests getting out with the boys, and we’re doing more stuff with them as family.”
“It’s not easy, it is tough work. It took a really big event for me to go and do it, so if I can encourage just one person to fill in that form and send it off, I hope I can.”