This week we reached the half way stage in 'Operation Transformation' and it proved a particularly challenging time for both the leaders and the show itself.
Earlier this week, the programme was criticised by Dr Jacky Jones, a former HSE Regional Manager for Health Promotion, when she described it as "a superficial reality TV programme". It's very easy to look at the aspect that she focused on - the regular weigh-ins where the leaders wear Lycra - but she is ignoring the crucial community aspect of the show.
'Operation Transformation' has been instrumental in getting the nation enthusiastic about exercising regularly. Yes, it has an entertainment aspect, but if health is made boring, no one will listen to the message. The show has done more for improving health in this country than anything else in the last decade.
Dr Jones is on the board of Healthy Ireland, and we should be working together, not criticising each other.
Week four was hard on the leaders too. Three of them missed their targets, and Eilish was heavily criticised by Dr Ciara Kelly for how much she drank during a day out at the races after she lost 1lb, rather than her target loss of 2lb. A lot of people said we were too hard on Eilish, but the targets are set for a reason.
Eilish talked about drinking 11 units of alcohol during race day, but that is the maximum amount that a woman should drink over an entire week. We've never said don't drink, just have one or two. I completely support Ciara. Yes, she was hard on Eilish, but we only have a short amount of time with the leaders and sometimes we need to be tough to get results. A day of drinking wasn't on the plan and it's as simple as that. We'll see next week if we took the right approach.
It wasn't a good week for Louise either - it's the second time in a row that she's missed her target. Her diet is perfect, but she's not doing enough exercise.
I visited her after the weigh-in, and we did a fitness session together, and now she's learned just how hard she has to work out and what she is capable of. Like Louise, Alan needs to follow Veronica's example and work a lot harder to achieve his goals. Next week is crucial and the pressure really is on the leaders to deliver.
Biggest disappointment: Three leaders not hitting their targets is very rare. Although losing a pound or two in a week is good, we expected more from them, and it's essential that we push them to achieve their very best.
Biggest surprise: Veronica had a tough time during her weigh-in last week, but I was delighted to see that she took our advice to heart, and this time she actually beat her target and lost 4.5lb.
We had asked her to work and she did. It's proof that the plan does work.
What you didn't see at home: There was a bit of tension on set this week, but that always happens around this point in the show. The leaders are getting tired, and this is the lull phase before the big push for the finale.
But it is up to the experts to be tough and to push them as hard as we can, so that they can achieve their goals.
÷ If you're following 'OT' at home, here's how to keep motivated:
(1) Don't lose heart: if you had a bad weigh-in, remember that, like our leaders, you need to work harder to achieve your goals.
(2) Get a workout buddy. If you exercise with someone who is fitter than you, you will work harder.
(3) Follow a different route for your walk or jog, time yourself and aim to reach the same distance even quicker each time.
÷ Don't forget: There's a 10km cycle at 9am next Saturday, February 7, in each of the locations where our leaders are based.
Participation is free, but pre-registration is required.