Thursday 22 March 2018

Deirdre sheds over a stone after coming through 'really tough year'

Deirdre O’Kane has rediscovered a routine after her difficult year. Photo: Tony Gavin
Deirdre O’Kane has rediscovered a routine after her difficult year. Photo: Tony Gavin
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

It may not be the most conventional way to kick off a New Year diet but Deirdre O'Kane has revealed she has shed a stone since Dancing with the Stars.

The comedian and actress said her health kick came after a very tough year for her family.

The star described how, behind the scenes, she was going through "a roller coaster of emotions".

She says: "I had a very tough year last year. I won't go into the details but there was a lot of ill-health in my family, so there was a lot of time in hospitals."

Deirdre with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ partner John Edward Nolan
Deirdre with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ partner John Edward Nolan

Describing how she felt at the time she says: "You are in survival mode.

"I'm very pragmatic, I am very much 'put the head down and get through this and deal with the fall-out later'.

"Obviously you'll have your wobbles but you are in survival mode. You are going to war and you hope to God that you're going to get a good outcome and we did. So I daren't complain. I am too aware of too many people who are dealing with illness and I wouldn't dare trying to put myself in their shoes because maybe they didn't get a good outcome."

After coming through the difficulties, Deirdre says: "I learned I am probably stronger than I thought I was, I think we are more resilient than we think we are. Human beings can be resilient for a certain length of time."

Now finally looking forward to a new chapter, Deirdre says she has overhauled her diet and fitness regime as she gets back to a routine.

Back then, she says, "I was just running around and grabbing food. For the first time in my life I did not have time to exercise or cook - everything went out the window and then, in the blink of an eye, I was up a stone. I am a petite build, I am 5ft 4in - you can't carry weight as an actor either, it's all there on the screen."

In recent weeks she has been following a Paleo diet, avoiding grains, refined sugar and dairy, and she is dancing up to six hours a day, with the odd glass of wine thrown in for a treat.

Hosting the Irish Film and Television Awards this Thursday night she says: "I am going to wear all black in solidarity with every female in the world who has stood up to this situation [sexual harassment]."

Viewers can look forward to her turning her razor-sharp wit to the biggest social movement of the current century - the end of sexual harassment against women: "I have a monologue at the top and I'll certainly be mentioning it," she laughs.

Performing stand-up since she was 25, Deirdre, who was Ireland's first female comedian, was making tea as a runner at a Cat Laughs comedy festival when she became mesmerised at the talent on stage, deciding to give it a go.

Recalling her first-time rookie nerves, she says: "I used to get the most blinding headaches because I was holding tension all day long. I spent two years like that."

She acknowledges she must possess a masochistic streak to have gone through it but says she decided to do it because "deep down you know what your abilities are. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think I was funny and that I could do it. You're not going to be a surgeon if you are afraid of cutting flesh."

Still one of the contestants to watch on RTE One's Sunday night show, which continues tonight at 6.30, she will also be performing stand-up for Comic Relief at the 3Arena on March 17.

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