IT is easy as one of the five Leaders on Operation Transformation to stick to the plan if you have a mini Karl Henry in the house.
“Karl calls Rían a mini Karl!” says Tanya Carroll, 33, a mother of four from Glanmire, who is one of three Leaders from Cork on this year’s show.
Tanya weighed in at 14 stone five pounds at the start of this year’s series. She has shed over a stone in three weeks.
Tanya, mum to Abbie, aged 15, Rían, aged 10, Mark Jnr aged six, and Orán, aged 19 months, says that, at week three, she is beginning to really enjoy and embrace the OT journey.
“Getting into the routine was the hardest part,” says Tanya.
“I’m there now.”
She has support from all quarters.
“Karl Henry was here yesterday putting me through my paces. He really pushed me, doing squats and triceps dips. If I didn’t complete the full set he made me start all over again. I’m so stiff today, I can hardly walk!”
All the family are in her corner.
“Rían is brilliant at doing the exercises with me and during the ad breaks he motivates me to get up from the sofa to do the moves.”
So he is her very own Mr Motivator?
“He is!” says Tanya, who at the two week mark had over a stone lost.
This week her target was to lose 2lbs. She didn’t move on the scales this week, due to having her period, but her overall inch loss was revealed as 21 inches — which has wowed the experts, her family, her friends, and neighbours.
“The residents at Glyntown Care Centre, Glanmire, where I work all tune in to Operation Transformation every Wednesday and they are all supporting me and egging me on,” says Tanya.
The residents were on camera too.
“They were so pleased when they appeared on the programme,” says Tanya.
“The ladies were all excited, putting on their lipstick and getting their hair ready to go on air. I’m so fond of them. They tell me I look beautiful. I tell them they are beautiful too.”
Mark, Tanya’s partner, was caught on camera too.
“Conor, the cameraman who is filming us at home, came with me to SuperValu when I was doing the shopping,” says Mark. “He snapped me sneaking a ring doughnut!”
But Mark, who is with Tanya all the way, can be forgiven.
“Mark is a great cook and he cooks all the dishes from the food plan for the family. We all eat the same meals together. That makes life a whole lot easier,” says Tanya.
“He baked the banana and oat buns we’re having with our coffee. At the weekend, when I’m heading to Tullamore for the weekly weigh- in, Mark can relax a bit and go off-plan. He can have a takeaway with the kids if he wants. He has no weight issues. He is the grey-hound breed!”
Tanya used to eat a lot of takeaways.
“I’d make healthy dinners for the kids, then I’d order a takeaway for myself. I ballooned to 13 stone. I’m only five feet two. I went up more than a stone when I gave up cigarettes,” says Tanya.
“Mark encouraged me to sign up for the show. When I did I told no-one.”
Now everybody knows how well she is doing.
“It’s strange going from being a nobody to somebody everybody knows,” says Mark, still getting used to the notoriety from appearing on TV with Tanya.
“I look at the programme through my fingers!” says Mark.
“At work, everyone asks, how is the Missus doing?”
The Missus is doing very well!
She has managed to kick her soft-drinks addiction to Coke, which was a consumption of up to 12 cans a day.
“We are all so proud of her,” says Mark.
“Tanya’s mum and dad and her brothers and sisters are so happy for her.”
Tanya knows she is cherished.
“I am the baby in the family and, growing up, I got away without eating all my vegetables!”
The muffins that Mark baked today are very good. Are they supposed to be a dark brown colour?
“I forgot about them in the oven. But Conor, our resident cameraman, still likes them! Conor often cooks a cauliflower and caper pasta up for us. He is one of the family now.”
Tanya and Mark will never forget the knock on their front door when Kathryn Thomas announced Tanya as the fifth OT Leader.
“When you knocked on the door today, we were reminded of when Kathryn called here to tell us the news,” says Tanya.
“She knocked; rat- a- tat- tat, three knocks on the front door. I was gobsmacked.
“We were watching Christmas films we had recorded. I opened the door. All I remember was seeing the big boom microphone that was fluffy. I thought it was a dog!”
Tanya never thought she’d be able to kick her addictive Coke habit. But she has.
“It’s cooled boiled water and tea now. I’d even be afraid to drink fizzy water in case I’d be tempted to drink fizzy Coke again.”
Tanya was tempted to take on healthy habits when she became a Leader on OT.
“I never walked anywhere or jogged before. I used to think all the slim people were looking at me. Now I love walking. The kids never thought they’d see me out walking with them.”
When she heads to Garbally in County Limerick today, Thursday, to lead a 5km walk for all her followers there, everyone will be looking up to her.
“The first time I did a 5km walk was with Barry and Andrea, the two other Cork Leaders, from CIT in the third Saturday in January. Loads turned out.”
Tanya’s into her stride now.
“I’m looking forward to the walk in Limerick. I have a lot of followers there,” she says.
In Cork, she’s a mini-celebrity.
“You can say that again!” adds Mark, who will have to get used to the limelight.
Tanya got used to the idea that she’d have to tackle her weight problem to show her kids good example.
“They’d ask me, why won’t you come to the park, mum? Why won’t you come outside and play with us?
“I had a reality check,” says Tanya.
“My dear dad has a lot of health issues, one of them is diabetes. And he’s half blind and half deaf. My mother is his carer. I didn’t want to end up like that.”
How did she end up weighing over 14 stone?
“My lifestyle,” says Tanya.
“I ate lots of white bread and I drank gallons of Coke. I often had takeaways more than twice a week, taking the easy way out. I didn’t exercise.”
She changed tack.
“I make a shopping list. I plan meals in advance and I stick to the plan. People think it is more expensive to eat healthily. It’s not. Our food bill per week averages €150. Takeaways added more to our food bill every week.”
Did she get any DT’s from giving up the soft-drink?
“No. But I had cravings for Coke up until week two. And I felt really tired.”
She never tires of the cráic with the other Leaders.
“I have a soft spot for Shane!” says Tanya.
“He’s lovely. And I get on really well with Lorraine. We have a good laugh and we have a lot in common.”
Tanya knows being a leader on Operation Transformation is an opportunity of a lifetime.
“It really is the biggest opportunity to get,” says Tanya.
Does she mind being somewhat exposed on TV every week?
“I don’t think anyone else only Mark has ever seen me with so little clothes on,” says Tanya. “For women, stripping off is a bigger deal. There are people weighing in bigger than me. And every week I’m getting smaller so I don’t mind!”
And she’s getting loads of compliments.
“When I’m out and about, people say; ‘Oh you’re the girl on television. You’re doing great!’”
Mark is doing great too.
“He’s done it all with me and put up with my mood swings,” says Tanya.
Mark is gracious.
“It was just a bad mood!” he jokes.
I leave Tanya, the mini-celebrity, Rián, the mini-Karl, and the mighty Mark, the reluctant celebrity, in good spirits because the nation is cheering for their girl on TV, the popular Cork Leader that everyone is so fond of.
Meanwhile Cork couple Barry and Andrea Rea also had another great week. Barry lost 4lb, one pound over his target and Andrea reached her target weight-loss of 3lbs.