Monday 23 April 2018

We're on Gerry Ryan's diet show and it's made our marriage really explosive

Siobhan O'Neill is fighting temptation during Operation Transformation

Sweet temptation: Siobhan O'Neill's husband Dave caught her snacking on treats
Sweet temptation: Siobhan O'Neill's husband Dave caught her snacking on treats

Siobhan O'Neill

What happens when you take crisps, chocolate, beer and wine out of a marriage? Misery and mayhem is the conclusion my husband and I are quickly coming to. Add a dose of PMT and an overworked husband to an already agitated situation and the mix becomes even more explosive.

Back in October, when RTE asked if we would consider entering a group from our parenting website into their lifestyle overhaul programme Operation Transformation 2010, it seemed easy to say yes. Back then, the luxury and indulgence of Christmas lay ahead and a dieting January seemed a long way off. We reasoned that once the selection boxes were gone and nights out over, the weight would simply fall off. How wrong we were.

Since the beginning of the get fit show, we have embarked on an emotional rollercoaster with surprising results. My husband and I in particular developed strenuous feelings of annoyance towards each other, as we came to terms with this new way of living. Let's just say, we now understand where 'comfort food' got its name from!

My first shock came at the weigh-in. I gained 10lbs over Christmas (and as a woman I am obviously lying about my weight, which means I actually gained 14lbs!). My husband, who has been under the illusion he is still around the same weight as on our wedding day, was equally shocked when his weight was unveiled. The rest of our group were unhappy at the initial weigh-in, too, and we decided at that moment to take this show seriously.

There are 14 of us from in the parents' group. We began excitedly, preparing the special recipes Dr Eva, the show's dietician, created and set about learning the exercises we were given. We support each other at exercising events and online and any smugness we had that this would be easy has long since evaporated.

We are now three weeks in and it has been a serious challenge. Not just as individuals but as a group. The upside of our lifestyle change is that as a group, we have lost a staggering 6stone 8lbs.

I struggled initially and within 48 hours of starting, I hit the wall.

Behind my husband's back, I crept into the kitchen and found a box of cakes left over from party season. I figured one little cake couldn't hurt.

Unfortunately, just as I shoved it into my mouth with delirious happiness, my husband walked in and caught me red-handed. I was mortified; he was delighted. I spluttered so much I almost choked on said cake, and he laughed so much he pulled a stitch in his side.

It was one of the few times in our marriage I caved into something first. He had the upper hand and I could not talk my way out of it. I figured the only way to get over it (and avoid having him spill the beans at our weekly weigh-in) was to admit to the shameful act personally.

And so, with a heavy heart, I told our group members about my weakness and embarrassment over what we now call, 'the cake incident'.

Much to his dismay and my relief, many of the mums recalled similar stories about sly pieces of chocolate they had sneaked in on those days where they just needed a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

That medicine being the hard work, sweat and tears that we are going through to compete against the other groups made up of taxi drivers and TDs, to be the group with the best overall percentage weight loss in the get fit show.

With all the exercise we are doing (we are in bed by 10pm most nights from pure exhaustion) and with the great new recipes we have actually been enjoying (much to our surprise) we expect our group will be honestly 'transformed' by the end of it.

Gone are the days of the mid-morning and mid-afternoon biscuit or two with a cuppa and the bags of crisps and popcorn in the evening. Now we are munching on crackers and fruit -- and feeling much better for it.

Hopefully, our marriage can survive the last four weeks of the show without treats and as the weight is coming off and we feel fitter and lighter, I'm sure we'll find a way to make use of our increased energy levels and put the fun back into our marriage. Even if it means burning off calories instead of consuming them!

To follow the progress of our group and read about the fun exercises of disco rollerskating, pole dancing and sky climbing that we are trying, log on to or tune into RTE 1 at 8pm on Wednesdays nights.

Between chocolate craving, sore muscles and a distinct lack of marital bliss, it makes for interesting viewing!

Operation Transformation is on RTE1 this evening at 8pm

Irish Independent

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