WHEN she took part in Operation Transformation a decade ago, Deirdre Hosford was spinning a lot of plates. She had a three-month-old son Cian and Jack, aged two.
“It was busy, looking back on it,” says Deirdre, of Whitechurch.
It was also life-changing in that the experience in 2013 made the now mother-of-three much more health- conscious. She cooks everything from scratch and does exercise.
However, after Deirdre gave birth to her third son, Liam, now aged six, she says: “I got sick of the whole thing. I got sick of being consistent and I put on a lot of weight. But the difference now is I don’t know what I weigh because I don’t weigh myself anymore. I think weighing yourself is quite dangerous for a lot of people because they get fixated on the number that’s on the scales.
“Having a little knowledge (from her time on the reality weight loss programme) means I’m much more focused on my body composition.
“I would be fairly active along with my kids and the way I cook has changed. But unfortunately I developed a great love of baking in recent years during lockdown which didn’t help me. I make cup cakes and chocolate biscuit cake and all sorts of things.
“But I’m now adapting recipes to make them a little bit healthier.”
Deirdre was 14 stone, 8 lb when she went on Operation transformation. She lost one stone, 10 lb and continued to lose weight afterwards, getting down to ten stone, 8 lb. But Deirdre has had some health problems which made it difficult to keep the weight off.
Having always watched Operation Transformation, Deirdre notes how its emphasis has changed over the years. While it was very much about losing weight when she took part, she says it has changed for the better and, that it doesn’t deserve the negative press it has attracted.
“Mental wellbeing is now a huge part of it and there’s a lot of stuff about cardiovascular fitness. It’s not all about counting down on the scales,” she says.
Deirdre doesn’t regret going public about her weight struggles, but was conscious of being watched in the supermarket after being on TV.
“I remember getting sweets for the kids and shoving them down to the bottom of the trolley in case people thought they were for me. I was self- conscious for a long time. Now I don’t care.”
Deirdre still does weight lifting and goes to the gym. “During lockdown, we bought some weights for home. I still love that side of things. I was never a cardiovascular girl. I don’t like running or walking but I love the gym environment and I love lifting weights.”
Like many, Deirdre had tried everything to lose weight, including consuming shakes and soups “but nothing had ever worked.” Operation Transformation was a revelation. But Deirdre says: “The flip side of it is it’s not a magic fix, there’s no magic pill. It’s about consistency, diet and exercise.”
After her dramatic weight loss, Deirdre trained to be a personal trainer and had a successful business for a number of years, training people in their homes. But the birth of her third child put paid to that.
In 2021, Deirdre decided to attend a personal trainer. “It’s a difficult thing to hand over to someone else when you’ve done a personal training course yourself. But I did six months with Elisa de Luca and it was amazing. It was gym-based. It was good to let Elisa look at my training and my form.”
Deirdre says the gym isn’t for everyone. “Women can be a little bit apprehensive and quite overwhelmed in a gym situation. The Planet gym in Blackpool has a women-only room.”
Asked if she found the weigh-ins wearing Lycra humiliating on Operation Transformation, Deirdre says it didn’t bother her.
“At first, you think ‘I can’t wear this’ but you get over it very quickly. You’re with five others in the exact same boat as you. People say wearing the Lycra is degrading. If you’re in jeans and a jumper, you don’t look so bad. But you get a different perspective (in tight sports gear). You realise you need to do something about it. At the end of the day, it’s a TV show.”
The show’s best asset is Dr Eddie Murphy, says Deirdre.
“He is so full of knowledge and is very much into mindfulness.”
January is “that dreaded time when everyone feels a bit of pressure to go and lose weight,” adds Deirdre.
“People go on a diet and might go to the gym. Social media has a lot to do with it.
“As women, we’re ingrained to look at other people and to want what they have. What happens is that people get hung up about the numbers on a weighing scale whereas they should be looking at their overall body composition and their wellbeing.”
Deirdre says that despite the bad rap Operation Transformation has drawn at times, her experience of it was very positive.
“I learned a lot of lessons from it and it’s stuff that will stick with me forever.”