Saturday 19 October 2019

A day in the life of TV presenter Kathryn Thomas

Kathryn Thomas (36) has been a TV presenter and broadcaster since she was 19. Born in Carlow, she lives in Dublin with restaurateur boyfriend Padraig. Having presented the New Year celebrations on RTE, she will host 'Operation Transformation' and 'The Voice'

Kathryn Thomas
Kathryn Thomas

Generally, I get up at around 7.30am. January and February are my busiest months of the year, with two shows on air - Operation Transformation and The Voice of Ireland. Most of the filming for The Voice is done before Christmas, and then, in January, it's all about post-production - doing voice-overs. Operation Transformation is different. For that programme, we have five leaders from all around the country. My routine changes from day to day. At 8pm, I might be told to get into the car and be in Cork for 10am the following day.

If I'm not on the road at dawn, I go for a run. My boyfriend Padraig is in the house with me. He's a restaurateur - his place is Hugo's on Merrion Row. He usually works shifts, so I'm up first. Unless I'm running out the door, I'm generally on dog duty. We have two. I usually take them for a run in the park.

I'm like everybody else in the mornings. I hate getting up in the dark, so I'm usually yawning putting on the runners. Once I get the first kilometre out of the way, my body starts to adjust. You feel the air going into your lungs and you have time to think about the day ahead of you.

I never liked running with anyone before. I used to think that it was my time to disappear from the world with my music on, and I still do that, but I love running with Padraig too. I know it sounds sad to say that we run together, but he's really pushed me in my training, and helped me to increase my cardio.

He has run 10 marathons in the last five years. He had put on a lot of weight, which he thinks was down to working unsociable hours, but then he lost four stone. When I met him, he was at the peak of his fitness and running every day. We're both competitive, but I'm not stupid - I know that he is fitter than I am. I run about three times a week.

I've always been sporty, and in my school, playing sport was compulsory. It was fantastic, and I think it should be pushed more on the curriculum, especially for young women. After a run, you feel stronger. I think if you feel stronger mentally and physically, with that comes a certain sexiness. I think feeling sexy is about feeling confident.

I usually have porridge for breakfast, but after a run I prefer natural yoghurt with goji berries, chia seeds, Brazil nuts and a cup of green tea. I'm very good in the mornings. It's the rest of the day that's the problem. I could be anywhere, doing anything from a voice-over for The Voice, to catching up with one of the Operation Transformation leaders.

I feel so lucky to be involved in Operation Transformation. This is my fifth year doing the show. It really has become a movement, infiltrating towns and villages across the country. The programme comes on at a time of year when people need to realise that there is a serious problem with obesity in this country. Ireland is on track to becoming the fattest nation in the world.

People apply to be on the programme out of desperation. It's very sad. You'd wonder why a person with a weight problem who hides their overeating from their partner - eating in the car and driving from garage to garage, so that people in the town don't know what they're eating - would go on the show, but it is the last resort. You can almost feel strength from the group of people for being so honest. Some women say that they started to put on weight when they met their boyfriend, but I always feel like sticking up for the men. You can't blame the boyfriend for this, ladies. You have to take responsibility. I tell them that life is only going to get better, and once they are honest with themselves, there is no holding them back.

When you meet them in the beginning, it's an emotional outpouring, and it can be like an open therapy session. They open themselves up to the nation, and there is no going back. Being overweight is rarely connected with food. Usually, it's tied up with emotions and unhappiness. It could be linked with work, sex life, kids, or lack of kids.

I'm very glad that the show is tackling fertility this year, because it's not something that is talked about openly. I'm 36 and I have friends who are going through treatment, and they would die if our wider group of friends knew about it. I think we should be more open about it. I'd love to have kids some day, and if I'm blessed to have them, I'll want to keep my busy career too. It's possible to do both.

I can't control what programmes are made in RTE, but in this fickle business, I've learnt to know my strengths. I've got good empathy with people and I like a challenge in life. That challenge aspect features in the type of shows that I do, like The Voice and Operation Transformation, where people get out of their comfort zones and strive to be better. I've become more resilient in the past few years, saying no to certain shows and only accepting work that suits my character.

In this job, it's difficult to have a routine, and sometimes I envy people who are at their desk at 8.30am, at the gym at 5pm and home by 6pm. My working life is frantic at this time of year, but that's the nature of the shows. Then in the summer, I could have two months off to go travelling. You make hay while the sun shines.

If Padraig is in before me, he'll generally have the dinner on. Then we have a chat and watch the box. I'm loving House of Cards. I usually go to bed at 1am. Padraig is on his iPad and I'm reading my book, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I feel like I've been reading it for years. I think Himself hopes that I'll finish it soon, because I'm more interested in the book than him. I have happy dreams, and that's because I'm in a great place. I'm in a great relationship. I have a great family and I love my job. I sleep soundly at night.

In conversation with Ciara Dwyer

'Operation Transformation' and 'The Voice' start this month on RTE One

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