'The best part is how I feel' - Mairead Ronan on her transformation
Dancing eight hours a day and breastfeeding around the clock - it's no wonder Mairead Ronan has shed more than a stone and a half since joining Dancing with the Stars.
The RTE presenter has dropped to her lightest weight since her teenage years, without the stress of calorie counting. "I haven't been under nine stone since I was 19," she says about her 12-week transformation.
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"Last August I had baby Bonnie so I was pretty much over 12 stone. She was only 7.5lbs. That's a lot of fluid," she laughs, adding that her diet has not changed.
"The diet I'm eating now is possibly the worst diet you've ever seen. Myself and John [my dance partner] are eating spicy chicken wraps every day. I had a Golden Crisp this morning."
But she says the gruelling training is paying off in many ways. "It is more about how I feel than how I look. I am bouncing out of bed at ten past six every morning, I am sleeping very well and I wake up and feel fresh because I have spent my whole day moving. The one thing this show has taught me is that we don't move enough."
She says getting the full support of her feminist husband was her magic weapon. "Louis was the one person who encouraged me. He said 'you go do it', and I got full-night sleeps in the spare room. If I pumped, he was feeding Bonnie," she says. "As the weeks went on, Louis just took over more and more."
She points out that the period after having a baby is not always easy. "It can be very lonely in that you don't always have a child at the same time as a friend or a sister - so you are out of the loop. You only realise how busy everybody's life is when you are at home with a baby.
"I made sure, on all the kids, that I got out every single day. Even when the weather was bad, I would just wrap up and go outside. I think you have to when you are in that zone, just for your head space.
"A newborn can sit under you for an hour [when breastfeeding] and not move and then you're tired and that hour rolls into three hours and, all of a sudden, when it's winter, it's dark and you are up in the middle of the night and it's lonely."
Asked for any post-baby advice she can offer, she says: "Don't ever forget the person you were before you had kids. She needs to be minded too."
She also addresses the pressure put on women to maintain their youth. "I am 38 and I have had no Botox. Although it's been suggested to me twice," she laughs.
"Someone told me I looked fresh this morning without a screed of make-up. I've had nothing done and I've no plans to get anything done.
"And that feels nice. I just think its an inner happiness I am feeling. I am really, really happy right now."
She says she would be thrilled in terms of Dancing with the Stars if this was her moment.
"Of course I would love to win. I have never won anything in my life. Even though I've been involved in loads of wins. In Today FM, the Ray Darcy Show, I was there for 12 years and won loads of awards - Ray won big radio awards - and we were part of those awards but it was Ray's name on the award.
"I was part of Ian Dempsey's team too but it was Ian's name on the award. I have never won anything [myself] - ever," she laughs.
Now that women are fronting more radio shows, Mairead says she would like to return to radio. "The right people are getting the jobs now instead of just 'stick a woman in because we need a female voice' - that drives me insane," she says.
"I just prefer when someone gets the job because they are the right person for it."
On her own ambitions she says: "If I could wave a magic wand? Yeah - I'd like to dance my way back on to radio."