Twenty hopefuls today, Wednesday 13 November, moved another step closer to becoming an Operation Transformation leader. The aspiring leaders from all over the country gathered together for the first time in SportsLink, Santry, in Dublin to be physically and emotionally assessed for a possible place in the 13th series. The new series will air on RTÉ One in early January 2020.
Among the aspiring Leaders today were couples Lorna and Eoin Browne from Limerick and Barry and Andrea Rea from Cork, hoping to become the first pair to participate in Operation Transformation.
This year you can get your first look at the fab five for 2020 as each Leader is revealed Monday to Friday next week (November 18 to 22) from 12.30pm on rte.ie/lifestyle
Please find brief participant biographies below.
Operation Transformation presenter Kathryn Thomas was also at SportsLink along with the four OT experts to encourage and motivate the group. The four OT experts are Karl Henry, fitness expert, Dr. Eddie Murphy, a Principal Clinical Psychologist with the HSE, Aoife Hearne – a registered dietitian and Healthy Ireland Council member and GP Dr Sumi Dunne.
Date: Wednesdays 13 November 2019
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OPERATION TRANSFORMATION S13 BIOGS
DoB: 24th April 1985
Address: Tankerstown, Tipperary
Occupation: Stay at home Mum
Marital status: Husband, Niall
Children: Liam (16) Rachael (14) – Stepchildren
Saoirse (4) Caitlin (1)
Weight: 18st 5lbs
Height: 5ft 8
Aisling (34) lives with husband Niall and their 2 children Saoirse (4) and Caitlin (1). Niall’s children from a previous marriage Liam (16) and Rachael also lives with them in Tankerstown, Tipperary.
From a young age Aisling feels that her weight was an issue. As a teenager she would have considered herself quite active but as she got older the activities faded away and her weight began to creep up.
Having 2 very active young children it’s quite difficult for Aisling to keep up with them. She feels lazy and just does the things she needs to do with them as she gets tired very easily. Saoirse has recently started playing football and Aisling would love to run around with her but instead finds herself standing at the sidelines.
Aisling’s biggest fear if something doesn’t change is that she won’t be here for her children. She doesn’t want her kids to be embarrassed by her and her weight. She is surprised that she doesn’t have any major health issues so far but she knows if she continues down this path that can change. She wants to be a positive role model for her daughters and be around for all of their big life events.
Occupation: Senior Associate Scientist
Marital status: Married to Barry
Children: William, 9 and Óran, 7
Andrea has watched OT over the years and she actively went looking for the applications this year. Andrea decided first that she was applying to take part and then she told her husband Barry. His first reaction was excitement, this might be exactly what we need.
And he proceeded to apply as well. Andrea lives in Cork with her husband
Barry (also in the Top 20). They have Barry’s two sons from his first marriage every weekend.
Growing up Andrea always strove to be the best that she could. She felt if she wasn’t over achieving when she was younger, it wasn’t enough. She has always had to watch her weight. They always had healthy eating at home. Portion size was controlled. Andrea’s mum would have done all of the cooking. There was never rubbish in the house. She went away to college in Scotland, being away from home and dealing with the stress of college her eating habits steadily decreased.
Andrea and Barry met online. They chatted for about a week before their first date. Barry had concussion from playing American football on their first date in April 2017 – he doesn’t remember much of it! But Andrea is there to fill in the gaps!
Barry does all of the cooking and he is a great cook. But there is a downside to this – he likes to cook with the best of ingredients, adding butter, cream, all the bad things to their dishes. He cooks from scratch most nights. She has found since they started going out that her portion size is much bigger than ever before.
When she was younger she would have played basketball and loved it. She played for 15 years. She misses it in her life. The weekly training and matches helped her control her weight. While in college Andrea picked up a bad habit of eating sweets, chocolate and crisps to avoid and hide stress. Andrea is their main motivator, Barry is their cheerleader. Andrea feels they both use food to pick themselves up. She worries about what will happen if they both have a bad day together. On the flip side they are both competitive so that will definitely help to keep them on track.
DoB: 2nd July 1980
Marital status: Married to Andrea
Children: William, 9 and Óran, 7
Height: 6ft 7”
Barry had no idea that his wife Andrea had applied for the series. His first reaction was excitement, that ‘Jesus this is something that could work for them both’ and he proceeded
to apply as well. Barry turns 40 in July 2020, at just over 29st this is the heaviest he has been. He strongly feels this is the kick in the arse that he needs to start moving in the right direction. He knows that on OT there is no “get out of jail free” card.
Barry lives in Cork with his wife Andrea (also in the Top 20). They have Barry’s two
sons every weekend.
There is no getting away from the fact that he is 6ft 7. Everyone in Barry’s family is tall. When he was younger he was able to carry weight a lot easier. A keen and competitive rugby player most of his adult life, Barry had to give up the sport he loves due to a severe shoulder injury. The knock on effect of this was weight gain – he had been training three nights a week and playing a match every weekend. No training, poor eating habits, he put on the weight and he can’t shift it.
Barry and Andrea met online in April 2017, they chatted for about a week before they met. Barry gave Andrea the wrong number three times – he puts this down to a concussion from an American Football game. He was texting the wrong number, but didn’t realise he was texting the wrong number. They can both laugh about it now. Andrea remembers a lot more detail than he does about their first date.
Barry works as a physiotherapist for a homecare company. He is home first every day. Barry loves to cook, he considers himself a bit of a Jamie or a Gordon – they are his heroes! His portions usually mean he is eating enough for two or sometimes three people. Barry knows his food tastes nice, but he also knows it tastes nice for a reason – cooking with butter and cream is a must.
As a newly married couple, he feels this would be their crowning glory to moving on. They need to feel confident in who they are as individuals but also as a couple. Barry admits he needs some straight talking. They are in the process of buying their first home together – this is a major push for them both as a new couple. They are hoping to move in by summer 2020. As a couple, Barry does feel they talk about how they feel towards their weight, but he also feels that sometimes that brush it under the carpet.
Address: Dunboyne, Co. Meath
Marital status: Engaged to Amy
Children: Cara, 5 and Evan, 3
Weight: 23st 8
Height: 6ft 1”
Brian (35) lives with his fiancée, Amy (35) and their two children,
Cara (5) and Evan (3) in Dunboyne. Brian works for Renault and Amy is a ban garda.
Brian and Amy met online and have been together for nine years.
Brian’s biggest issue is self-control. If anyone annoys him – whether it is an argument with a colleague or Amy, he turns to food. He describes it as ‘mind games’- “I’ll start on Monday”- if someone annoys him, he will buy a bag of crisps and then tell himself, “it’s done now” so he’ll keep eating badly for the week on the pretence that he will start the following Monday.
He will make an effort for 2-3 weeks, lose a stone and then put even more on.
He had a health scare in 2010. His blood pressure suddenly shot up high and he felt very dizzy so he went to the hospital, the doctor told him it was weight related.
He used to love going to the gym, running and walking but hasn’t done any of that
for two years. Brian is lost as to how to control his eating habits. Amy thinks it’s the van. For the last seven years he is in the van, delivering parts and driving 8-9 hours a day. He admits to being a secret eater, he thinks when he eats junk in the van, no one will know but admits he is only kidding himself.
He makes every excuse not to start being healthy. He thinks Amy and his friends are sick of listening to him talk about how he wants to change but can’t. Previously she and their good friend, Eimear embarked on a weight loss plan with Brian. Both Amy and Eimear did really well. Amy lost three stone and has kept it off. Each time they got weighed, Brian, would lie and pretend he was losing weight when in fact he was putting it on.
Brian and Amy are getting married next April. Amy has made an effort to look great for the wedding. Brian wants to look good by her side and to be healthy and energetic for his kids but is worried he won’t do it and will look terrible at their wedding. Brian admits he wants another health scare to shock him into action again.
Address: Carbury, Kildare
Occupation: Stay at home mum
Marital status: Husband, Paurice
Children: Dylan (15) Aaron (12)
Stepdaughter Erin (12)
Weight: 14st 7lbs
Height: 5ft 4
Christina (44) lives with husband Paurice and her 2 children Dylan (15) and Aaron (12). They live in Carbury in Kildare but Christina is originally from Ballyfermot in Dublin.
Christina is a stay at home mum and in June this year she was diagnosed with Fybromaylgia. This was a devastating blow for her as she had seen her sister suffer with it over the years.
In 2009, Christina met the love of her life. Paurice and Christina had both been in failed marriages and connected straight away. She admits that he saved her life and put her back together. Christina has a very negative opinion of herself when it comes to her body image. She knows that her lifestyle is at the route of the problem but can’t seem to get it together to make the changes. Meal times could mean 3 different dinners and if she has been picking all day she won’t eat with the family. Her sister has even stopped asking her out walking as she knows what Christina’s response will be.
Christina would love to lose weight and get a healthier lifestyle going for her whole family. She wants to feel confident as a parent. She fears if things don’t change she will continue to put on weight and hate herself even more.
DoB: 6th May 1989
Address: Summerhill. Co Meath
Occupation: PT Customer Support Leader
Marital status: Partner, Mark
Children: Lily, 7 and twins (2) X and Y
Weight: 15st 4
Height: 5ft 6
Ciara (30) lives with partner, Mark and her children, Lily (7) and twins, Tom and Alice – who will turn 2 in February. Lily is from a previous relationship. Ciara works as a Sports Support Team Leader for Paddy Power. Mark works for BetFair. They met five years ago at work when Mark too was working for Paddy Power.
Ciara describes herself in the past as a wild child. If there was a party, Ciara was there. At 22 in her final year at college, she fell pregnant with Lily. Those close to her didn’t think she would finish university but she was determined to prove them wrong.
Ciara wasn’t always big. She thinks it started when she fell pregnant with Lily. She is currently at her heaviest. She won’t tell Mark what she weighs. He always tells her she looks grand and admits to not being a great motivator as he eats a lot of junk himself but remains slim.
They love food and dining out. Portions are problematic. If they go out, Ciara says she is licking the plate. She inhales food. Lily is a picky eater but Ciara finds she eats better if Ciara sits with her.
Clothes shopping is hard. Mark said she bounces in but after trying clothes on will feel dejected and want to go home. She takes her frustration out on Mark and snaps at him. She is concerned that Lily is at an age now where she sees her mum getting upset about her weight. Ciara doesn’t want her daughter to have the same relationship she has with food and be aware of her mother always trying different diets.
Ciara says it’s her fault. She says it’s a circle and she uses her kids as an excuse. She doesn’t like to talk about her feelings with Mark. She also thinks everyone else has it together and that are and Mark are constantly struggling as young parents, something she feels many mums will identify with.
Address: Malahide, Dublin
Occupation: Owner Grafton Barbers
Marital status: Single
Children: Ellie 5
Height: 5ft 4
Claire (31) lives in Malahide with her daughter Ellie (5). She is originally from Drimnagh and
comes from a big family of 5 brothers and 2 sisters. She has worked as a barber for 11 years
and purchased the franchise Grafton Barbers.
Being a single Mum to Ellie has had its challenges over the years but Claire couldn’t have done
it without the support of her family. Her daughter is her biggest influence for applying for the show. She wants to be a good role model for her and a positive influence in her life. At present she feels she can’t even keep up with her and whenever she brings her anywhere Claire is sitting down while Ellie is running around.
When it comes to food Claire knows what she is eating is all the wrong things but they are
convenient for her so does it anyways. When she drops Ellie off to school and makes her way to work she stops in the garage to get some sausage rolls and coffee. She is a big drinker of red
bull lite as she feels she needs the energy from being on her feet all day.
When Ellie is finished school she goes to after school where she gets her dinner so Claire knows she has eaten well for the day so, when she gets home from work she may only have a sandwich or a take away. Claire has also been smoking since the age of 14 and has only given up for her pregnancy. She would normally smoke about 15 – 20 cigarettes a day so she feels that giving them up would be really hard.
She has always been the life and soul of the party but she has started to shy away from nights out and gatherings. Claire has lost her spark and the people around her know it’s due to her weight issues.
At 31, Claire feels all of the extra weight she is carrying, she is sore and tired all of the time.
Having tried every diet under the sun she thinks it’s time to make a complete lifestyle change.
She wants to learn how to lose weight in a safe and sustainable way and introduce a healthy
lifestyle into her home. She wants Ellie to grow up and know that exercise is part of her life and not a chore. At the moment Claire feels that if she continues down this path she won’t be here to see her daughter grow up.
Address: Ballymum, Dublin 11
Occupation: Prison Office,
Marital status: Married to Vanessa
Children: Caithlin, 20 and Reese, 10
Height: 5ft 10
Derek Martin lives in Ballymun with his wife Vanessa, his 20 year old daughter Cathlin and his 10 year old son Reese. They have lived in their family home for 14 years. Derek has been a Prison Officer for just over 12 years. Vanessa is a stay at home mum.
At just 37 years of age, Derek is sick of making excuses. He is currently 25 stone with a BMI of just over 50. This is the heaviest he has ever been. In the past Derek has gone on diets, where he eats healthy and exercises. He will cut out the crap. He has never followed a diet plan. All goes well initially and then he will slip back into his regular routine.
Two years ago he gave up smoking. His decision to do this was based on encouragement from his son Reese, who feared his dad would die early if he kept smoking. They are best friends. Giving up the cigarettes increased his appetite and gave him more disposable income for takeaway, crap food and beers.
Derek loves his job. Derek works shift in the prison – 8am until 8pm. He works four days out of five. However overtime is always available to him and he takes it when he can. He doesn’t work nights. He is mainly based in the prison library. It’s a tough environment. It can be stressful, but he feels that if he speaks to the inmates at their own level then they have more respect for him and they have a better relationship.
Derek worries about his weight when he lies in bed at night. He always convinces himself that tomorrow is a new day and he will change, but that day never comes. Derek’s main motivation to apply followed a trip to an amusement Park this summer. As he attempted to get on one of the rides with Reese, he was told he was too overweight and needed to get off.
He doesn’t eat breakfast, maybe a coffee. He will eat lunch from the canteen in the prison. The healthy options are always there, but he never goes for them. Once he has lunch at work, he won’t eat again until he gets home at about 9pm. At this point he is always starving and needs something quick. When he gets in, Vanessa used to keep his dinner for him, but nine times out of ten it ended up in the bin, so she stopped making him dinner. Instead, Derek will cook himself two large deep pan frozen pizzas, chips, something convenient that he can put in the oven.
He stopped doing sports and his weight gradually increased to the stage that it’s now out of control. He needs someone on his case 24/7. His family, friends and colleagues will encourage him, but it’s easy for him to stop as they don’t give him the hassle. Derek can’t remember the last time he did any exercise. He has full use of the gym at work and has a break each shift between 12.30 and 2pm – he says he has no excuses, but he will always find them.
Occupation: Production Operator
Marital status: Wife, Lorna
Children: Donnacha (5) Fionnán (2)
Weight: 22st 2lbs
Height: 5ft 10
Eoin (27) lives with his wife Lorna (32) who has also applied to the show and their two children Donnach (5) and Fionnán (2) in Clarina, Co. Limerick. He works as a production operator in EI Electrics in Shannon. Lorna works as a healthcare assistant. He is originally from Co. Clare.
Eoin met Lorna 8 years ago when they at a mutual friend’s party. He was studying electronic engineering at the time. In his final year of college Lorna became pregnant with their first child and this was a shock to the couple. Feeling the pressures of becoming a new Dad and the need to provide for his family Eoin gave up his activities and worked as much shift work as possible. Eoin was used to working shifts as he had been doing it since the age of 19. The irregular hours meant he never really had a great routine when it came to food but because he was a keen rugby and soccer player his weight didn’t affect him too much. When he gave his activities up this is when he really started to notice his weight increase.
While pregnant with Donnacha in 2013 the couple moved in together. Both agree that their eating habits weren’t great and as they got comfortable with each other the weight crept up. In 2015 Eoin and Lorna got engaged the following year they were married. While this was meant to be a day of happiness Eoin wasn’t comfortable in himself. He finds it very hard to look back on photos of himself as he knows how he felt inside on that day. In 2017 Lorna became pregnant with their second child.
Last year Eoin and Lorna realised they both needed to do something about their weight so they joined slimming world. It ended up becoming a bit of a competition between them. Over 6 month Eoin lost nearly 2 stone but then became discouraged by the whole process. He gave up and put all of the weight back on.
Eoin has now secured a job where his he has regular hours working 8 – 4:30 Monday to Friday but his eating habits haven’t changed. He would leave the house without any breakfast and just drink coffee all day. Dinner at home in the evening could be the first thing he eats all day. Then when the kids are bed he breaks out the junk food.
At present Eoin doesn’t have any underlying health conditions due to his weight but he is very aware of what is around the corner if he doesn’t start making some changes. He has recently started back playing soccer a couple of times a week but admits to be too unfit to play. He wants to get back playing sports regularly and feeling good about himself. He is only 27 and wants to be around to see his children grow up but fears he won’t if he continues down this path.
Address: Tullamore, Co Offaly
Occupation: Special Needs Assistant
Marital status: Married to Podge
Children: Natasha, 25 & Jake, 23
Weight: 14st 9
Height: 5ft 2
Jean Kinahan has lived in Tullamore all her life. She is one of 12 children – 6 girls and 6 boys. She is the youngest girl. Her parents passed away when they were both 56 and the 12 brothers and sisters raised each other.
Jean lives in the centre of Tullamore with her husband Podge. Podge works as a courier for a domestic appliance company. Jeanie – as everyone calls her, misses her children terribly. It’s just her Podge and their two dogs, Walter and Lexie at home now. Jeanie knows Podge nearly all her life, they are married 22 years.
Jeanie works full time as a special needs assistant in the Offaly School of Special Education. She loves her job and she loves working with the children. Jeanie doesn’t want to be fat and 50. Natasha is getting married on the 1st February 2020. Jeanie is emotional about the day, but is really looking forward to it. She hasn’t got her wedding outfit yet. She wants to be a sexy mother of the bride, not a frumpy one.
Entering her 49th year, Jeanie was delighted with life heading towards 50. Her weight was always up and down, but more up than down. Then in March 2019 her doctors found a growth on her ovaries, which resulted in both ovaries being removed. When she woke up from the surgery she was straight into the menopause. She has recently started on the Evening Primrose Oil and B Complex.
Jeanie describes the menopause as no craic at all. She woke up a different person. She doesn’t feel sexy or feminine anymore. She thought she would just have a few hot flushes and that would be it.
Jeanie has always been a real mammy, minding everyone and the onset of the menopause has reminded her that she won’t be having any more children. That stage of her life is over. Her head has changed. There is a new Jeanie since menopause, but it’s not the Jeanie she wants or knows. Podge, Natasha and Luke have all noticed a change in her. Her confidence is also gone, she doesn’t feel sexy anymore.
Jeanie has always struggled with her weight, but she has found that as she gets older it is getting harder to keep off and her eating habits have changed. She has tried lots of diets – she’d lose two or three pounds and then thinks – sure I can eat now. Jeanie has never eaten breakfast in the mornings, she always has too much to do. She would have lunch at work and dinner when she gets home. They always have a good proper dinner. Jeanie thinks her portion sizes are huge at home. She likes bland food, she wouldn’t be an adventurous eater.
With Natasha and Luke flying the nest she wants to feel happy and content heading into her 50th year. The menopause has changed her and she is desperate to learn how to live with it and turn the bad days into good days.
Address: Kilcloon, Meath
Occupation: Telesales, Motor Industry
Marital status: Wife, Ann Marie
Height: 5ft 9
Joseph (32) lives with his wife Ann Marie (31) in his mother’s house in Kilcloon, Meath. The couple have been living there so they could save for a house. They have recently bought a house in Maynooth and hope to move in the next few weeks. Joseph works in telesales in the motor industry and Ann Marie is an accountant.
While working in Dunnes Stores at the age of 19 Joseph met Ann Marie who was then 18. They dated for 3 years before the moved into rented accommodation. Before they got married, they moved back to their family homes to save for the wedding. Once married Ann Marie moved in with Joseph into his mum’s home.
In 2016 the couple were in hospital waiting for Ann Marie to get an allergy test. While in the
waiting room Ann Maire seen a poster about sleep apnea and told Joseph that he had it. After
this he went to get tested and was diagnosed at the age of 28. This came as a big shock to him
was told he would need a machine to sleep at night. He was also told by doctors that he was
class one obese and this was a contributing factor in his sleep apnea.
When living together Joseph and Ann Marie would prepare food for dinners on busy days and
be much more mindful of what they were eating. He would much rather get a chinese takeaway or pizza than having the hassle of cooking. He hates vegetables and thinks they are boring while Ann Marie loves them and could eat them all day. Joseph is unhappy with the fact that they moved home to save for their future but his health has deteriorated.
Having just bought a house and wanting to start a family as soon as possible should be an
exciting time in anyone’s life but for Joseph it’s a cause for concern. He worries if something doesn’t change that he will be an obese dad not able to enjoy his children. He also worries that his health will take a turn for the worst and he could end up leaving Ann Marie alone to raise their kids.
Address: Clarina, Limerick
Occupation: Healthcare Assistant
Marital status: Husband, Eoin
Children: Donnacha (5) Fionnán (2)
Height: 5ft 5
Lorna (33) lives with his husband Eoin (27) who has also applied to the show and their two children Donnach (5) and Fionnán (2) in Clarina, Co. Limerick. Eoin works as a production operator in EI Electrics and Lorna works as a healthcare assistant.
Lorna was born and raised in Clarina and lives close to her family. She is the oldest of 3 siblings
which include 1 sister and 2 brothers.
Growing up Lorna never really had a positive body image. She struggled with her weight from a young age but feels that it was her teenage years that her weight began to increase. When she
was 9 years old she was diagnosed with Focal Epilepsy. Once she was put on medication she
was seizure free for 9 years. It wasn’t until her lifestyle changed in her late teens that the
seizures came back.
When Lorna was 24 she met Eoin at a mutual friend’s party. The pair hit it off straight away and 4 years later Lorna was pregnant with their first child Donnacha. Lorna and Eoin got married in 2016 and the following year Lorna was pregnant with their second child Fionnán.
In 2017 her Dad Eddie died of cancer at the age of 56. This was a huge loss to her and her family and Lorna comfort ate to try and get over the sadness of it. She promised her Dad before he died that she would take control of her life but feels it’s more out of control than ever.
Lorna worries a lot. About her family about her health and about her husband’s health.
At the age of just 33 Lorna wants to change her life around and introduce a much healthier
lifestyle into the home. Eoin her husband agrees with her that things need to change for them
both so has also applied for the show. Lorna feels she needs to break the unhealthy relationship
they both have with food and introduce more activities into their lives.
She admits that she has lost herself, her confidence and her motivation for life. She wants to feel like a great mother, wife and person again but needs help to do so.
Address: Carrickmore Ballyhaise Co Cavan
Marital status: Partner
Children: Mia (11) Jodie (2)
Weight: 12st 8
Height: 5ft 2
Lorraine (46) lives with her partner, Terry, and their two children, Mia (11) and Jodie (2) . Lorraine and Terry have been together for 12 years but have never done the wedding thing. Terry is shy, the complete opposite to Lorraine. She is the second eldest of four boys and two girls. She says she had a luckiest childhood. Her father worked in a factory and her mum stayed at home. She had a lovely, ordinary time.
Lorraine left school at 14 and worked as a hairdresser, opening her own barbers aged 23 – she still has this business today.
Her daughter, Mia, developed an asmatic cough when she was 4 months old. She was struggling to breath and deteriorated quickly. She spent a month in Cavan General hospital. In February of that year she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and transferred to Temple Street. Lorraine was flabbergasted. After the diagnosis, Lorraine realised Cavan had no facilities so she decided to do something about it. She began to fundraise and became well known in the community. She kept herself fit and healthy while fundraising, going on walks and running marathons. When Cavan had everything they needed, Lorraine stopped and thinks her body began to relax. When Jodie was born she became lazy. On reflection she thinks she was tired from running around for so long.
Lorraine isn’t just concerned about her weight. She explains that when you hit a certain age everything becomes like groundhog day. Previously she wasn’t in the right headspace to apply for the show. You have to be in the mood to lose weight. Now she really wants to do it. She is ready. She wants to feel better because she’s four years from turning 50.
She believes she is a born motivator, but unfortunately she can’t motivate herself. She believes if given the chance she wouldn’t let us or herself down.
DoB: 13th March 1976
Address: Co Cavan
Marital status: Married to Thomas
Weight: 22st 7
Height: 5ft 7”
Noreen (43) lives with her husband, Thomas and their two children, Finian (12) and Caitlin (11). Their eldest, Cillian (23) is a civil engineer and lives in Drogheda. Noreen describes herself as a stay at home mum but actually works daily on the milk run with her dad.
Noreen puts everyone else first. When her dad had a cardiac arrest in 2016, Noreen felt she had to step in full time to take over her father’s milk run. Since then, Noreen does anything to relieve the pressure on her dad, now 74. She had hoped he would lighten his workload after having a cardiac arrest but instead he took on more.
Family life is hectic and disorganised. Thomas and Noreen both get up at 6am. Thomas does what he can to help with the run before leaving for work. Noreen has to be back at 8am to get the kids ready for school. Her diet is terrible because she never has any time. She seems to survive on sandwiches and tea.
Weekends are equally crazy. As a couple they have no down time and never go out. Noreen doesn’t even take time for herself. She thinks it would be a massive shock to her kids if her and Thomas were to leave for a night because they’re so used to having their parents around. They realise this is their own doing.
Noreen has been doing a weight loss programme since 2015 and from it knows that she needs to put herself on top of the pile but can’t. She previously lost 6.5 stone. In 2016, when she took over the milk run, she began missing classes and was so busy looking after everyone else that she put three stone back on but she is not ready to give up. She still sees a glimpse of that person and keeps a picture of her old self on her phone to keep her motivated.
She is constantly tired and Thomas said she is visibly struggling and lacking in energy. He sees that it gets her down and says that she was a completely different person when she lost the weight.
Thomas was shocked that Noreen applied because she was finally putting herself first and getting out of her comfort zone, He says she is a natural leader like her father. If there is something to be done she’ll do it and won’t stop until it is completed. In the family she is the one that organises everything and in Slimming World she is always trying to motivate everybody else.
Glenda Murphy Smullen
Address: Kilnamanagh, Dublin
Occupation: Leisure Centre Manager
Marital status: Married to Stephen
Children: Matthew, 15, Taylor, 12 & Christian, 7
Weight: 13st 7
Height: 5ft 4
Glenda is married to Stephen. They live in Kilnamanagh with their three children, Matthew, Taylor and Christian. She met Stephen 13 years ago, they had the same circle of friends. They got married in 2007. He is her best friend. This is the first time that Glenda thinks she has ever had to ask for help – she is normally the person helping others no matter what it is. Glenda is lost.
Glenda has worked in Tallaght Community Leisure centre of 19 years – she calls it her second home. Sports has always been a big part of her life, particularly growing up at home with her sister, Justine and parents. However, Glenda’s life has changed considerably in the past three years. Her best friend Marie, who she worked with in the sports centre passed away. This hit Glenda hard, but she used her swimming to keep her focused. They named a swimming lane after her in the leisure centre. She promised Marie she would do the Liffey Swim in her memory. Then she got an ear infection and had to stop. She felt defeated like she was giving up on her friends memory.
In September 2019, Glenda’s dad passed away. She was extremely close to him and misses him every day. For the last four months of his life, Routine went out the window. Glenda started to comfort eat – cakes, scones, chocolate, takeaways, like she had never done before. They would take a break from the hospital and go for a carvery, which they never ate before.
These eating habits have continued. She’s eating bars of chocolate in the middle of the day.
Meal times at home have been more convenient and lax. They are eating takeaways when they
normally wouldn’t. While her Dad was in hospital she couldn’t motivate herself to exercise at all. Previous to this she would have done a class, or gone for a run to clear her head. But she feels lost and somewhat trapped. Describing her feelings is difficult and frustrating because she can’t fix them.
Since losing her Dad she has lost her mojo. Glenda is nearly 14st, she has never been this heavy. If she is not at home, she’s at work. She was always one for going out on the weekends, taking the kids to football and family outings but now she craves the comfort of home and is anxious until she gets back there. All of her happy memories with Marie and now her Dad are associated with sport and a lot of what she used to do she did with them. She needs to turn these memories into a positive.
Glenda recognises she is grieving. She has followed OT since the beginning. Up until two years ago she was the one organising the walks in her community. The tables have turned and now she needs OT to get her out walking.
Occupation: Stay at home mum
Marital status: Married to Danny
Children: Sarah, 9, Aoife, 6 & Fiona, 2
Weight: 17st 3
Height: 5ft 8
Pamela Sheridan lives in Stoneyford, Kilkenny. She lives with her husband Danny and three daughters, Sarah, Aoife and Fiona. Pamela met Danny when they were both in the FCA. Her dad a soldier got stationed to Cyprus and the family moved over with him. On her return a couple of years later, Danny got word she was back and they started going out.
Applying for OT is a huge step for Pamela. For ten years Pamela ran her own graphic design business. Working from home, the business completely consumed her life. She thought about nothing else day or night, seven days a week. It affected life at home considerably, there was no escape for anyone. When she was in labour with Aoife, she was on the phone to her parents who were finishing an order at home. She would take calls from customers on Christmas Day. Something had to give and two months ago she sold the business.
With the business sold it is time for Pamela to get her life back on track. Working on her own and from home she became isolated. She lost touch with friends, making excuses not to meet them for a coffee or a drink in the evening time. She wants to change this.
At just over 17st this is the heaviest she has been. She is embarrassed to say her weight out loud. She is afraid she is going to get bigger. She knows she was 12st stone once and she was happy, she just Can’t remember when that was. But she knows how she got there. Her eating habits have steadily decreased in the past nine years since she had her first daughter. Running the business was stressful.
To relieve the stress and to comfort herself she ate. With Danny at work all day he couldn’t see what she was eating. She picks all day. She won’t sit down with the girls when they are having their dinner. They don’t sit down as a family at meal time. She has developed a fear of eating in front of others. She tends to eat on her own. She doesn’t enjoy cooking and will sometimes panic when she has to do it.
She considers herself an emotional eater. Her wardrobe is full of dark coloured clothes, mostly black. There are clothes in another wardrobe that have never been worn. They are brighter in colour and she’d love to wear them soon. She has done research into getting a gastric band, but she knows this would only be a temporary fix, she wants a permanent fix for her long term happiness and health.
Since selling the business Pamela has more time. The problem now is she doesn’t know what to do with the time. She is still at home, where she worked. She thought a few months off would get her into a good place, but she hasn’t gotten control yet. She has no routine and she doesn’t know what to do.
Pamela is in limbo and isn’t sure what she is going to do with her life. Pamela really wants to have a good relationship with food again. She wants to love it again. She has done every diet going. She dosen’t want her daughters growing up to think her habits are normal. As their mum she wants to set an example, to give them the tools and knowledge for their own lives and families.
Address: Terenure, Dublin
Marital status: Partner, Jim
Weight: 15 st
Height: 5ft 4”
Patricia (59) describes herself as a happy person who loves life and has a great circle of friends and family. She lives on her own but her partner, Jim, spends some of the week at her house. She is one of eight and is very close to her mother, (90), who visits regularly. Patricia works for AIB and loves it.
In her 20s, Patricia was fit. She played squash, swam and cycled everywhere. At 29 she got a car and became lazy. In her 30s, Patricia gave up squash and then when she moved out of home,
without her mum’s home cooked meals, she started to form bad habits. She was busy with
work and running a house. Life became cozy and she got into a rut. In early 2000, Patricia did
‘The 4 peaks’ with the bank. They completed it in 3 days and she says it was one of the best
things she has ever done. She was much fitter then.
The office has a canteen and is full of tempting treats so it is difficult to remain disciplined. Each morning Patricia has breakfast in the canteen and white pudding is her vice. So are biscuits and chocolate. Patricia said she feels she could eat chocolate for breakfast. However come Lent she gives it up completely. She has been doing it since she was 25 which proves she can be disciplined when she wants to be. She admits that on Easter Sunday she is like an alcoholic.
Her colleagues want her to be a leader so they too will get into shape. Her colleague, Trisha,
says Patricia would make a great leader because she is “fabulous, brings a team together and
takes no nonsense.” She represents women who, like Trisha, are 50-60, have worked hard all
their lives and now close to retirement, want to lose those lbs they never managed to shift.
Address: Athlone, Co Westmeath
Occupation: Marketing Executive
Marital status: Married to Gerard
Weight: 15st 5
Height: 5ft 6
Sandra lives with her husband Gerry and their two year old daughter Nora in Athlone. Sandra works full time as a Marketing Executive with Oxymen in Athlone. Gerry works in IT.
Sandra was born with a congenital heart condition. She had to undergo several heart surgeries – her first been at the age of one, then again and four she had open heart surgery. There were complications and she was in hospital for a period of time. She developed a sepsis which resulted in her losing her fingers on her right hand. Her final open heart surgery was when
she was 19. Since then she has had a clean bill of health. She now has a yearly check-up in November.
Growing up Sandra always wanted to fit in and her parents always encouraged her to have a “normal” life. She went to school, college and university. She was always determined to put the illness to the back of her mind as much as she could. To Sandra this is part of her life, it hasn’t defined the person she has become today. However, once she hit her teenage years the weight started to creep up. Sandra hated exercise when she was younger and she still does. The feeling of breathless she gets still scares her today. Sandra hates the feeling of it taking over.
The result of these feelings is she has never exercised very much in her life at all. Her doctor always encourages her to exercise, there is no medical reason why she shouldn’t.
Sandra met her husband Gerry, 12 years ago in a night out in a nightclub. They hit it off immediately. Sandra always wanted a family. After her final operation she asked her doctors if she would ever have a baby. They said they would cross that bridge if they came to it. Two years ago, Sandra and Gerry had Nora. Sandra looks on her as a miracle baby, as she always feared it would never be possible. She was maintaining her weight in around 13 stone up until 2 years ago. But after having Nora she feels she is losing control and the weight is creeping up again and it worries her.
Sandra says she is at her wits end. She feels like she is forever on a diet but never getting anywhere. Every year she has thought about applying for OT but has never had the courage to apply. She tries very hard to control her weight, but nothing ever seems to work. She thinks the only thing she hasn’t tried is the cabbage soup diet. She knows her body is different, it’s been through a lot – she thinks her metabolism is different to other people.
She worries that she is putting extra pressure on her heart. As she gets older Sandra, knows it will catch up with her. Sandra has a warm and bubbly personality. For her she wants to start 2020 as she means to go on. She wants to set herself goals to improve her diet and lifestyle – she doesn’t just want to look great on her sister’s wedding day, she wants to look and feel great forever. She knows exercise will be her biggest hurdle, she wants to learn to overcome it. Sandra has fought hard for her health over the years but now she wants a permanent fix to her overall health and wellbeing. She wants to be an OT Leader to show people that even through you might be born with a long term health condition that you can overcome obstacles and live the life you desire. Sandra never wants to be defined by her condition, she only ever
wants to be seen as Sandra.
Address: Loughrea, Co. Galway
Occupation: Teacher & Musical Director
Marital status: Married to Clodagh
Children: Tadhg (14) Teagan ( 5) Moya (2) and Sadie (1)
Height: 6ft 2
Shane (29) lives with his wife, Clodagh, and their children, Tadhg (14) Teagan ( 5) Moya (2) and Sadie (1). Shane and Clodagh are both teachers. Shane teaches music and religion. He is also a musical director and is a director of ‘Stage Wise’, a performing arts camp for teens. Shane and Clodagh have been married for six years.
Shane wasn’t always overweight. He was diagnosed with a neurological condition at the age of 15 and lost the ability to control his bladder. It’s called a dead bladder. He has no sensation at all and as a result doesn’t know when he needs to pee and can’t pee naturally. Sometimes in work he is so busy he forgets to empty his bladder. That results in him feeling very sick. He is prone to constant infections.
When he was diagnosed he spent a long time in hospital both here and in Belgium. He underwent many surgeries and treatments so food became his friend. As the years passed he piled on the weight and it got out of control. There is a major surgery Shane can have but he needs to be 14 stone to get the operation. He is currently 21 stone. Shane says if he gets the surgery it will be a whole new life for him.
Shane never stops. Musicals bring him all over the country. Each morning he leaves his house at 6.30 a.m. School is sometimes followed by choir. He then tries to get home for an hour or two to see his kids and then he is on the road to whatever production he is working on. He doesn’t get home most nights until midnight. When he gets in he has to wind down and turns to the cupboard. He eats a lot of junk. In the evening because he is on the road he will go to a drive-thru or get take-away.
Clodagh is a great cook and tries to push healthy food on him but he hates vegetables except for vegetable soup. Vegetables make him gag and he feels like a hypocrite for making his children eat them. He doesn’t really like fruit either. On occasion he might eat a banana or a grape. He feels lethargic all the time.
He does no exercise. He used to love gym classes but since he was sick last year, he hasn’t done any. Shane was never into sports but was an excellent swimmer until he got sick. He’d like to make running his thing. His children are sporty.
Shane has a positive exterior but underneath he is extremely self conscious. Last year he won ‘Best Musical Director’ for the third year in a row but deep down he was sick on the stage getting his award because of how he looked.
He does everything for everyone else and now Shane feels it’s his turn. He is turning 30 next year and he wants to be fit for his kids and for once feel good. He can’t remember the last time he felt good.
Address: Glanmire, Cork
Marital status: living with partner
Weight: 14st 7
Height: 5ft 2”
Tanya (33) lives with her partner, Mark and her 4 children, Abbie (15), Rìan (10), Mark (5) and Oran (1). She is a proud Cork mum, who wants to improve her health and wellbeing. She knows if she does this it will have a knock on effect on her young family.
Tanya says she was always heavy, ranging between 12-13 stone but since giving up cigarettes last January is now 14.5 stone. Her mum says Tanya was not heavy as a child or a teenager but then she began to put on weight.
Tanya has been addicted to Coca Cola since she was pregnant with her eldest Abbie. Abbie is 15 now. Today she estimates she drinks 6 to 8 cans of full fat Coca Cola a day. She has one the minute she wakes up in the morning with a cup of coffee. This one of her biggest fear of doing OT is giving it up. In the past she has hidden slabs of it in friends’ houses.
Tanya feels now that she has her family, it’s her time. She wants to look after her health and doesn’t want to end up like her dad. Tanya spends a lot of time caring for him. He has chronic lung disease from smoking and is diabetic from being overweight. His organs are failing. She doesn’t want her children to see their mum like she and her siblings see their dad.
She admits she has never had the willpower to eat well. She has failed every diet and doesn’t feel sufficiently educated when it comes to healthy eating. Tanya makes healthy dinners for her children but then orders a Chinese for herself and Mark. She says Mark is like a greyhound he doesn’t put on any weight.
Her sister is a personal trainer and has offered to make a food and exercise plan for her sister because she is so worried Tanya will end up like their dad. Tanya has refused. She says she has no will power and is scared.
She won’t be seen out walking or jogging because she thinks everyone else looks fit and she’s self-conscious. Applying for Operation Transformation has taken out of her comfort zone. She would not usually put herself out there but she has come to the stage where getting this help is worth it.