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We're determined to win our battle of the bulge

A YOUNG bride-to-be, a cancer survivor and a man hoping to improve his love life are just some of remarkable contestants set to take on the ultimate weight loss challenge on the new series of RTE's Operation Transformation.

RTE star Kathryn Thomas will host the fourth series of RTE's life-changing series -- and the progress of this year's participants will also be charted on RTE Radio's John Murray Show.

Filming for the opening episode of the show started this week, with 23 participants turning up for their weigh-in. Five leaders will be selected from this group who will undertake fitness, dietary and other challenges laid down by the show's experts, leading dietician Dr Eva Orsmond, fitness instructor Karl Henry, psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy and motivational expert Enda McNulty in order to get fit.

Today the Herald spoke to three of the participants about their reasons for entering the show.

RACHEL

MUM-OF-THREE Rachel Walker (36), from Tallaght, battled cervical cancer last year and underwent a hysterectomy.

The brave mum got the all-clear last month -- but said the stress of the ordeal led to her putting on weight.

Not only that, but her partner lost his job and the couple are doing everything they can to make ends meet.

In a bid to put the past behind her, Rachel, who is a size 18, is now looking to shift the extra pounds as well as improve her lifestyle.

"I had a hysterectomy in September so it has been a stressful year and I think the stress of the cancer caused me to put on weight because that is when I got into eating," Rachel said.

"My partner lost his job and then I think the stress of both of us being out of work and struggling to pay the mortgage was what caused me to get sick in the first place. Then being sick made me eat, so it is all connected," she explained.

Rachel's children are aged eight, four and two and the Dublin woman says she wants to lose the weight for her children.

"My kids think it's great that I am doing this," she said.

SAMANTHA

A WEDDING DAY is enough to strike fear in the hearts of many Irish women.

And young bride-to-be Samantha Armstrong is no different.

Samantha (24), from Wicklow town, met her fiance Jamie King (30) eight years ago and it was love at first sight.

Jamie popped the question last February.

Samantha says she is now determined to lose weight for her nuptials, on New Year's Eve 2012.

"The wedding was initially booked for New Year's 2011, but I felt that it wasn't enough time for me to get to the size I want to be.

"Now I feel that I have enough time to get it sorted. My weight has kind of been this dirty unspoken thing for me while planning the wedding," she said.

Samantha currently weighs 19 stone -- and is hoping the programme will put her on the path to losing nine stone for her big day and help get her in to a size 12 wedding gown.

MICHAEL

Michael Maher (31) is hoping that the programme will help him find love.

Truck driver Michael is confident Operation Transformation will help him shift three stone.

Poignantly, he says he wants to lose the weight in honour of his late mother, who passed away suddenly this summer.

"The last conversation I had with the mother was her saying to me that I needed to lose weight because if anything happened to me 'where would she be?'.

"Little did we know she herself was going to drop dead the very next day. I'm doing it for the both of us," he said.

Michael, who is from Waterford, says that a friend sent in his application to Operation Transformation without him knowing.

"I just got the call from the show and it was a big surprise I couldn't believe it. But after the passing of the mother I said 'why not give it a try?'"

Single man Michael says he is not looking for love at the moment, but hopes to win some female admirers if he loses weight with the help of Operation Transformation.


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