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Putting on a size 24 bridesmaid dress spurred nurse Ciara into saying goodbye to her old self

THE Dublin nurse on RTE's Operation Transformation has revealed a friend's wedding spurred her on to join the makeover show.

Clondalkin nurse Ciara Dunne (28) told the Herald that the initial reason for her weight loss was having to order a size 24 bridesmaid dress.

"I've always been overweight and it's always in the back of your head, especially as a nurse and working in the health industry. What really spurred me on was my friend's wedding last year," she said.

"I was asked to be her bridesmaid and I tried losing weight but I kept going up and down. When I came to order the dress it came in as a size 24, which really cut me to the bone. I was just devastated and crushed.

"I looked lovely on the day, my hair and make-up was gorgeous, but those photos will follow you around for the rest of your life and I decided it was time to take some drastic measures.

"It was really down to my sister and my mum, who kept pushing it and now they're following the plan as well, which is brilliant."

Although she didn't reach her target weight loss, as revealed on last night's programme, she has still lost 10lb since embarking on the gruelling programme fronted by Gerry Ryan.

And the determined Dub, who weighed in originally at 15st 10lb at 5ft 4in tall, admitted that being filmed trying to lose weight during a TV show is definitely one of the best motivation strategies.

"I'm so glad I decided to take part, it has definitely gotten me up off my ass.

"The whole idea of being in the public eye means that you don't want to be seen to fail and obviously you have lots of people spurring you on. The amount of support I've received has been great," she said.

"I did have a meltdown last week. I don't like getting my picture taken, let alone have a camera following me around the whole time.

"It was really tough to get used to. But it's only two months out of your life and it's more fun if you interact with the crew as opposed to think, 'they're stalking you again'," Ciara said.

"The five of us just clicked straight away. It was like we had known each other for years and you've got four other people to talk to who are going through the exact same process as you," she added.

However, she does admit to dearly missing her carbs, especially rice, but is determined to do whatever it takes to reach her target weight.

The show also revealed her going through a painful series of exercise workouts with the programme's fitness expert Karl Henry, who she describes as a "real Trojan, he's very tough".

The fitness challenge show seems to have not only transformed the bodies of its contestants, but also their attitudes.

Although Dunne did not reach her goal weight, another Dubliner Conor O'Connor says he won't stop until he does.

The former All Ireland handball champion confessed that he hadn't played the sport with his brother for the past eight years and it was a "super feeling" to be back in action this week.

"I was serious about doing this. I want to be back at All Ireland standard in handball by December. I won't stop until I hit my target. The show might finish for everyone watching, but it doesn't finish for me," he said.

Joining the pair on their weight loss journey are fellow leaders Penny Dwyer (33), Amanda Casey (29) and Anna Naughton (31).