Karl Henry: How to follow the leader on Operation Transformation and lose 10pc of your body weight in eight weeks
Operation Transformation 2018 is underway. We're now into season 11 and five incredibly brave new leaders will be starting their journey to get fit, lose weight and motivate the nation. This year's show will be the biggest and best we have ever done, with new initiatives, a whole new exercise plan and lots more to encourage you to get fit in 2018.
Every year, our goal is to get the country moving, thinking and eating better to improve their health. We have leaders of different weights and shapes, the idea being that you can identify with one of them and follow their programme for free to lose 10pc of your body weight over the course of eight weeks. It's not The Biggest Loser - the aim is sustainable weight and fat loss, helping you to make a lifelong change.
We always have innovative community programmes that help to get Ireland moving, and this year is no different. We will be running the 'Ireland Lights Up' campaign with GAA clubs all around Ireland, asking each local club to turn on their floodlights from 7pm-9pm every Monday from January 22 to February 26 to allow people to exercise in a safe environment. That's just one of the plans we have lined up - you're going to have to tune in to find out what else is coming.
We have five fantastic leaders yet again this year, who are going to inspire you with their progress to get fit yourself.
David Cryan, a community sergeant in an Garda Siochana, has an incredibly busy lifestyle with two children aged three and five. A lack of exercise combined with a diet of fast food has lead to his weight gain, and I really think Operation Transformation is going to be a great kickstart for him and get him back on track.
At 52, Mary Diamond is our oldest leader this year and will be proof that age is no barrier to getting fitter, stronger and healthier. Eating mindfully is also something Mary is going to get help with as, like so many others, she has had a bad relationship with food over the last decade.
Interior designer Felicity Moroney's love of fashion is going to be a huge motivation to get healthier. She wants to lead by example for her eight-month-old daughter and I think she really is going to get to love the zero to 5k training too.
Sarah O'Callaghan is an incredibly tough woman. Just 27 years old, she beat breast cancer in 2015 and now it's time to focus on her fitness. She is driven and determined and I really think she will inspire people all around Ireland to get off that couch and get moving.
Wayne O'Donnell was very active with sports, but injuries over the last few years have really stopped him from training - something so common with people throughout country. This is going to be Wayne's year to get fit and healthy in a balanced way and get his health back on track.
Once you pick your leader, you can log on to the website rte.ie/ot and click on their profile on the homepage. Now you have an eight-week plan for your exercise and food, delivered daily through video content direct to your computer or phone. Dietitian Aoife Hearne will cook with you, I will work out with you, helping you get the very best results along the way. The best part of all is that it's free.
In terms of exercise, it is crucial to me that everything must be free. So there are workouts you can do for free in your home, using water bottles as weights, but if you have some dumbbells lying around the house then make sure to use them. There is a zero to 5k training plan too to help you transform your health. I believe if you can walk or jog 5k then you can dramatically change your health. The workouts can be done by anyone of any age and take no more than 30 minutes. Plus, if you follow the plan, you will be hitting the Government recommendation of 180 minutes of exercise a week.
If you are reading this and are looking for ways to get healthy this January, why waste your hard-earned money on the latest quick fix? Quick fixes don't work in the long term - they make the process seem easy and almost effortless when the reality is that it's hard, very hard. But let the five people on this show motivate you and help you. At the end of the eight weeks you will be fitter, healthier and in better shape. You will have learned how to cook new recipes and how to shop healthier too. In other words, there are very few reasons not to sign up and get started.
Operation Transformation airs tonight at 8.30pm on RTE One.