Dr Ciara Kelly: Celebs feeling great after TV transformation
So Celebrity Operation Transformation has drawn to a close. To be honest, very quickly you realise there's no difference between celebrity leaders and the leaders in the regular January show. All of them have the same issues around their weight - it's affected their confidence.
Many of them have opted out of important social events in their lives because they weren't feeling good about themselves. They feel disempowered and at a low ebb, usually having tried and failed, often repeatedly, to sort out their health and their weight themselves.
That's not to say for a moment that everyone who's overweight feels that way - there are people who are no doubt happy in their own skin at all weights but the people who come to us want to change and are willing to engage in a multi-disciplinary intervention to do so. And what's so amazing is just how much change occurs in just a few short weeks.
I think it's the combination of structure - having a diet and exercise plan to follow that creates that. Plus the empowerment they get from the self-discipline needed to overcome OT's challenges. Basically, when you make yourself do stuff you don't really want to do or you're afraid to do - it makes you feel stronger and more capable. And then, of course, there's the support - yes from the experts - but more importantly from the local communities and from the wider community online and around the country.
The weight loss on the scales feels like a win and the improved energy levels from getting fitter and the feel-good factor of fitting into clothes that haven't closed in years all combine to give the leaders real lift in their mood, their confidence and their self-belief. I'd really hardly believe it myself if I hadn't witnessed it. The leaders transition from a place of vulnerability to a place of strength. It's really that simple.
In the series which just ended we saw that. James Patrice, a social media influencer, spoke openly about his issues with body image at the start of the programme. He said his body confidence was about 30pc in the first show - but one month later he said it was at 130pc and he liked this new James and wasn't going to let him go.
Kayleigh Cullinan, a singer from The Voice, had been so badly bullied in her teens that she lost the sight in one eye after an assault. She had lived a totally sedentary life. At 21 she weighed nearly 21 stone and used food as a crutch. She's now lost over a stone in the past month and is taking up horse riding.
Triona McCarthy, beauty columnist with the Sunday Independent, is like half the mums in the country - needing to shift a stone, finishing the kids leftovers and waiting for wine o'clock! She now looks fantastic, has lowered her cholesterol from very high to normal, and Triona and her young family have adopted healthy habits that will stand to them for years. Plus she fitted into the dream dress she had tucked away in the back of her wardrobe.
Gary O'Hanlon might be an amazing celebrity chef but he was getting through his high stress days by eating jellies and drinking Red Bull. He's now lost well over a stone and is running 5ks and planning a marathon. He has so much more energy now that he's physically fit that the sugar he was living on just isn't necessary any more.
And Mary Byrne, singer extraordinaire... well if anything hers has been the most incredible journey of all. She came on board just four weeks ago limping on two sticks with terrible arthritis and barely able to pull herself up from a chair. She's now walking upright with no sticks and last weekend she went swimming in the sea. She's gone from often being quite depressed, to animated and happy, and said: "I used to just exist - but now I'm living"
Those changes don't just happen for the telly. The real effects on people's lives occur when the cameras are gone and they keep making the changes that make them feel good.
Operation Transformation is looking for our next five leaders for January 2018. If you're someone who needs to make a change - why not apply? Anyone can change their life for the better. Why not start now?
Sunday Indo Living