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'Looking at the Mairead I was on assessment day breaks my heart. I don’t recognise her now'

Life after Operation Transformation is already filling up with fun and exciting challenges, writes Mairead Redmond.

Mairead Redmond

I’M MAIREAD REDMOND, the youngest leader on this year’s Operation Transformation.

At 22 years of age I weighed 16st 4.5lbs. I was unfit, unhealthy, unhappy, uncomfortable in my own skin, and my self-esteem was at an all time low. I felt stuck.

Health issues

From the outside looking in I seemed to be ticking all the boxes. I had a great job, great friends, great social life and a fantastic family. But healthwise I was ticking all the wrong boxes. I had increased risks of arthritis, gout, diabetes and heart disease.

I am 22. These are health issues that should not be even associated with someone my age and the scariest prospect of all is the health risks I might face in 20 years’ time.

The fear of the unknown regarding my health was enough to spur me on to apply for OT. It’s a long process, and one that forces a period of reflection on your life as a whole. But coming out the other side of the process can only be described as life changing.

The OT plan is built for everyone

It’s easy and accessible for all walks of life. That’s also easy for me say, but anyone who watched the show will know I most definitely did not find it easy. Operation Transformation is intense and it is life changing in so many ways. The hardest weeks for me were in the beginning. I’ve had to change my whole way of living in just a few weeks.

I used to run out the door with no breakfast, maybe grab a coffee, not eat until the afternoon and snack on the wrong types of food. I was eating portions that were just too big.

Now I go for my morning run, come home to porridge and head on my merry way knowing I’ve kickstarted my day in the best possible way. I eat regularly throughout the day, snacking on healthy options.

Not focusing on the scales

Mairead with her family at the 5K in the Phoenix Park Life after Operation Transformation is already filling up with fun and exciting challenges. 5Ks, 10Ks, mud runs, endurance races are all in the pipeline for 2017.

It has only now become easy for me because I’ve come full circle in changing the way I live and the main focus is no longer the numbers on the scales, but more about the way I now feel.

Don’t get me wrong. Seeing the numbers fall each week is fantastic and is still very much something I’m conscious of. But I don’t ever want to feel the way Mairead did six months ago and for me that’s a transformation. Looking at the Mairead I was on assessment day breaks my heart. I don’t recognise that girl anymore.

In some ways I am used to running around, running in and out the door, running around town, running around a bar, and as of now running around a 5K track. I’ve made many attempts to get fit and lose weight and always enjoyed the challenge of running. The buzz of completing my first ever 5K with Operation Transformation in the Phoenix Park is something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Fun future challenges

Life after Operation Transformation is already filling up with fun and exciting challenges. 5Ks, 10Ks, mud runs, endurance races are all in the pipeline for 2017. Operation Transformation has provided a springboard into much more exciting challenges and I can’t wait.

The following quote sums up my journey so far. I did this for me, for peace of mind, for energy, to feel amazing, and to be the best version of myself. The only person I am in competition with is myself:

Not a diet, a lifestyle. Not for them, for me. Not for a day, but everyday. Not to feel good in a dress, but to feel good in my skin. Not for the beach, but for my mind. Not for a competition, but for the competition I have created for myself, by myself, to become a better version of me.

The Operation Transformation finale airs Wednesday at the usual time of 8.30pm with two episodes on Thursday at 7pm and 8.30pm on RTÉ One. Follow the OT plan at www.rte.ie/ot.

Ray D’Arcy defends Operation Transformation from critic who calls it ‘worse than useless’>

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Mairead Redmond

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