The 12th season of Operation Transformation wrapped up last night as it was revealed the leaders shed an impressive 10-and-a-half stone between them over the eight-week programme.
It was leader Cathal Gallagher, a paramedic from Donegal, who lost the most weight on the health and fitness journey, dropping 3st 10lb, starting out weighing over 26 stone.
Speaking to the Herald last night, Cathal – who celebrates his 49th birthday on Saturday – said his emotions were still “raw” as the show came to an end.
However, he said there was more work to do, with encouraging people to open up about their mental health a priority. During the series, Cathal gave a talk to students at Letterkenny IT, receiving a standing ovation for his honesty surrounding his own mental health, opening up about how he considered taking his own life.
He said that taking part in the final 5km in the Phoenix Park last week, a woman stopped to say she had been inspired to open up to her family about her own struggles.
“I took part in the 5km last weekend and I was honestly brought along by the feeling of love and encouragement – it’s totally unbelievable,” said Cathal.
“I have worn my heart on my sleeve and I spoke about my demons that affected me – it’s turned 360 now. I’m teaching myself it is good to talk,” he said.
“One woman walking past me and Dr Sumi stopped for a moment, and we had a conversation.
“She said she watched the show last week and after the piece where I talked to the students in Letterkenny, she got up the next morning and she told her family what she had been going through that she had never told anyone about. They’re calling me an ambassador – I will take that.”
He said other third-level institutions had invited him to speak.
“I’ve been contacted by NUI Galway and they want me to participate in a mental health talk,” he said.
“This journey is not over yet.”
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