Monday 15 July 2019

'I didn’t realise I’d have a camera man with me the whole time... I was like woah' - reality of being an Operation Transformation leader

  • OT leader Paul Murphy on the challenge of changing his lifestyle in a couple of months
  • 'You can’t do anything unless you’re on camera.. that was like ‘woah’. I didn’t realise that there was this level of intensity'
  • 'I decided to do this. I needed to change. The reason I did it is very clear - my health'
Paul Murphy, an Operation Transformation leader
Paul Murphy, an Operation Transformation leader
Paul Murphy, Operation Transformation

Jessica Farry

Operation Transformation's Paul Murphy says he "wasn’t happy at times looking in the mirror", which is part of the reason he applied to go on the current hit series.

The Tubbercurry businessman was flooded with well wishes after the first episodes of the new series aired last week.

As The Sligo Champion visited Murphy’s Hotel and supermarket last Thursday, members of the public were constantly wishing Paul well on his journey.

The reaction has been huge, but he admitted that watching the first episode back on television was difficult for him.

"I’m a little bit overwhelmed. The positive reaction from it has been fantastic, but looking at the show you would actually be a little bit embarrassed because you don’t get a 3D visual of yourself, when you see it on TV it becomes a little more real so obviously that aspect was tough. But definitely this morning and even last night the phone never stopped ringing.

"People I would have lost contact with 20 years ago or so are making contact now, it’s been really positive.

Pamela Swayne from Youghal, Co Cork; Cathal Gallagher from Co Donegal; Siobhan O’Brien from Clonsilla in Dublin; Host Kathryn Thomas; Jean Tierney from Bruff, Co Limerick; and Paul Murphy from Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.
Pamela Swayne from Youghal, Co Cork; Cathal Gallagher from Co Donegal; Siobhan O’Brien from Clonsilla in Dublin; Host Kathryn Thomas; Jean Tierney from Bruff, Co Limerick; and Paul Murphy from Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.

"It’s great doing all these things, you can go on camera no problem but when you have to watch it back, it’s a whole different ball game. I had to do it, but maybe I’d have preferred to watch it on my own but I am where I am.

"I decided to do this. I needed to change. The reason I did it is very clear, my health, if I kept doing what I was doing was going to deteriorate. It’s all or nothing with me.

"I couldn’t do half measures, I’ve done half measures before. I needed to do that, wear the Lycra shorts and actually embarrass myself into doing something about it."

Paul is under no illusions as he begins his Operation Transformation journey.

He knows his weaknesses. Working across a supermarket and a hotel means that eating healthily isn’t all that easy. Whenever he has a craving for something, it’s too easy to get it.

"I’m nearly 20 stone. I work hard, I work long hours, I am the weight I am because of unhealthy eating and always eating on the go, and not eating healthy.

"I’m surrounded by cakes and all. At home I’m not too bad, but at work I’m worse. There’s always chocolate there, there’s always fizzy drinks there. I’m always looking for that bit of a kick, it’s there. The other four leaders are incredibly strong, they all have incredible strong stories.

"To be a part of that is fantastic."

And while he is fully aware of what he will have to give up in order to reach his desired weight and to meet his targets, which was four pounds last week, he says it is about much more than that.

He wants to ensure that he is healthy for the sake of his children. Husband to Sonya and father to their two children, Ava (8) and Ethan (1), Paul (41) is just two years older than his father was when he died of septicaemia.

"It’s not just about what you give up, that’s a part of that, but for my mental health as well and to feel better about myself, is a bigger aspect. You can stop eating the stuff, you can give that up, I wasn’t happy at times looking in the mirror at who I was.

"I felt I wasn’t setting a good example for my kids. My eldest is eight, I have a 16 month old son and he’s started to walk the last few months so if I continued on the path that I was going on, I wouldn’t be able to play with him in the evening.

"My daughter is a livewire. She’s very busy and active and it’s important for me to take stock and say ‘right I have to do that’. I was feeling down as well because I wasn’t able to do what I should have been able to do.

"Ok I work hard, but I’d come home in the evening and I didn’t have the same energy. It’s great giving up the sweets or fizzy drinks but for me it’s more than that.

"It’s actually having the ability to go and do exercise and be around and be more active.

"I knew myself that my health had deteriorated and I knew myself that I wasn’t fit, I had to do something about it. I wouldn’t have done this 12 months ago.

"When my son was born then, as a father I wanted to be around to be able to do things like play football with my son. I knew that with the path I was on, that wouldn’t happen."

Paul has a jam-packed schedule for the duration of the programme which finishes later in February. As a businessman and father, he has to find a way to fit everything in.

The first episode aired on Wednesday, January 9, and Paul has had to adjust to having a camera man around him for most of the day every day since the first weigh in took place over a week ago.

"We have to go to Dublin every weekend and hopefully be back either on Sunday or back on a Monday for the weigh in. We went up last Saturday and got weighed on the Sunday.

"It’s out in Balbriggan this year in Bremore Castle which is not completed, it’s only half day so it’s a bit of a building site. It looks fantastic on TV. It’s very cold and you’re there for hours in a pair of shorts and a dressing gown.

"We got weighed on Sunday so we kicked on from there.

"I didn’t realise I’d have a camera man with me the whole time. The camera man will be with me Tuesday to Saturday every week for seven and a half weeks, first thing in the morning until last thing at night. The only thing they weren’t doing was sleeping with me basically.

"I had breakfast this morning and everything was filmed. You can’t do anything unless you’re on camera.

"That was like ‘woah’. I didn’t realise that there was this level of intensity. It’s grand for me doing it because I applied for it but I had to let my family know, were they happy with it? Because it impacts on them too.

"You know yourself when you’re sitting at home there could be a disagreement about something like the remote control or something else, it wouldn’t look good on camera. I told my wife anyway and I don’t think it sunk in.

"She didn’t really realise what it would be like until she started watching videos on YouTube, cause she never watched it. In the end she was happy for me that I made this decision, and my mother too.

"They were surprised I did this, I probably even surprised myself by doing it, the first week is probably the hardest. The camera was here Tuesday and we didn’t get the meal plan until then so everything is on camera, everything you do is shown. Everything this week is the first time we do everything. It’s pretty surreal."

Operation Transformation participants are given a very definite meal plan to follow for the week. Paul is pleased with the relatively easyto-follow plan.

He admits that it has changed his view of food.

"We have fantastic support, support from my family, support from the community and support from the whole country. I feel very confident, for me I think it’s definitely doable.

"There’s chicken curry on the meal plan, we make a lot of chicken curry ourselves here (in the hotel) for instance, I made it last night and the other night for the first time. You’ll see on the program there’s a lot of things that I wouldn’t have had before and I’m realising they’re nice.

"It is changing my view on food and exercise. It’s about putting a schedule in place. Ok I’m always busy, I’ll always have distractions, we have two businesses, the supermarket and the hotel, I would work between both of them. It is seven days of the week. You’re trying to get a balance."

Paul applied for the show without telling anyone.

Throughout the rigorous application process he did reconsider his decision, but in the end he stuck with it and so far he is pleased that he made the choice to apply for the show.

"I applied myself and didn’t tell my wife or anyone. My wife had been on to me, and I saw the application and I said I’d go for it. I didn’t realise that it was going to be 52 pages of an application form. They ask you everything, your history. And half way through filling that up I was thinking ‘do I really want to do this?’.

"I sent it off and then they rang me and went through it more in depth, I didn’t realise. I never sat down and watched the show from start to finish, I saw bits of it here and there. I never watched it all.

"Then there was another phone interview, and they said then that they wanted to do a home visit. Some of the guys came with a camera and recorded me on camera to bring back to RTE. Not only me but my wife, my mother, my brother.

"When we went through everything, for over an hour, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to because it was very full on. I didn’t know. They rang me then and said I got down to the last 50. Being as competitive as I am, when I got that far I was thinking I wanted to get somewhere."

He will travel to Dublin again this weekend where the weigh-in will take place and he will learn if he has been successful in reaching his four pound loss target.

Commenting at the beginning of Paul’s journey, Malachy Hanberry, Managing Director EUROSPAR said; "We want to wish Paul all the very best during his Operation Transformation journey.

"Paul is a very determined person and knowing the commitment and dedication he brings to serving the community of Tubbercurry, I am confident he will be able to transfer those traits into helping his team and himself reach their goals."

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