Killian's Operation Transformation - 4 years on

Can you tell us a little bit about how life has gone for you since the show ended?

Since OT, life has pretty much returned to normal. Before the programme, I was a normal Dad, husband and business owner with the regular day to day issues and concerns everyone faces. While on the TV I was lucky enough to learn a number of tips and tricks to turn my life from an unhealthy one into a healthy one but now the cameras are long gone and my time in the limelight has faded, I’m still a dad, father and business owner!

However, I am very lucky to have continued my weight loss and built a considerable running and triathlon CV in the past 4 years. This has in itself brought numerous opportunities to speak to corporate, sporting and school groups on my experience and success and how I have managed to continue my motivation over the years.

Once we are selected as an Operation Transformation leader, we are forever known as a leader and even 4 years down the line I really enjoy when people stop me in the street to say hello or the opportunities I get to pass on my experience to anyone looking to change their lifestyle.

What were your initial goals when you became a leader? Do you feel you achieved these?

My initial goal was to stop the inevitable slide I was on towards ill health. I really didn’t know how I could do it or how I would end up, but when I filled in the application form I knew I had to do something. After 7 weeks I lost nearly 3½ stone and I was well on the way to turning my life around.

By the end of the programme though, I wanted to get fit enough to be able to run 5k a couple of times a week in my lunchtime – I knew that this was a really good standard to reach to help me maintain any weight I had lost while on TV. But, being quite goal driven, 5k soon became 10k and then I set my sights on running a marathon!

How has your weight been over the past few years since the show ended?finishing the marathon

I have continued to lose weight but it hasn’t become such a priority! When you have 500,000 people watching you on the TV every week it certainly focuses your mind but nowadays I really focus on my health and lifestyle as an overall package. I’m not hugely concerned if I put on a few lbs over Christmas or on holidays as I know I have the experience and drive to take it off when necessary.

Because running, triathlons and exercise are such a big part of my life now; food and nutrition are integral to my continued wellbeing as I need to replace energy burned while training with healthy, nutritious meals and snacks. I continue to step on the scales weekly though and I still keep a food diary to make sure I’m not slipping into bad habits. It’s important to keep a watch on things as it is much easier to run a marathon at 14 stone than 15 stone!

Have you found it easy or difficult to stay on track?

I need to concentrate every day on what I eat. I still find it too easy to eat a large bar of chocolate, to pile my plate too high at the buffet or to reach for the snacks when hungry. I try not to deny myself any snacks or treats but I always have a bottle of water to hand to quench my thirst and if I must snack I make sure it is healthy. Our house is filled with fruit, nuts, yoghurt and enough ingredients to make a quick smoothie so there is always something to hand if required!

I was lucky enough to give up smoking about 10 years ago and one tip I learned back then was to take everything ‘one day at a time’. It is a really good philosophy as things don’t seem so final, it is much easier to not snack till bed time than not have a snack ever again. Believe me, I ‘slip up’ regularly but when I do, I just need to start again tomorrow.

Is there anything that has been a particular challenge?

I find weekends a much bigger challenge than Monday to Friday. Perhaps it is because there is more down time and I think everyone knows that we ‘over consume’ out of pure boredom. It takes a lot of will power to continue the good habits on Saturday and Sunday but the reward is seeing the scales reflect the effort on Monday morning.

What has motivated you to keep going?

I’m very goal driven so I find that I am always working towards something (currently I’m training for my 5th marathon, in Paris). When you have a goal to work towards it can really focus the mind on achieving results. I write my goals down (training, work goals, weight loss) and keep them to hand all the time. It is a great way to remind myself of what I am working to achieve.

My number one motivation though was my family and it will always be my family. Children learn from those they admire and as parents it is up to Maureen and I to provide a good example to our children 100% of the time. If I don’t give my best all the time, I’m not just letting myself down, I’m letting my children down too.

What are the things that have worked well for you in terms of maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

The first thing I learned was that preparation is vital to keeping the success going. Each week we shop, with a list, according to a loose meal plan for the week ahead. This allows us the opportunity to ensure there is variety in our diet with meat, fish, chicken, vegetables and colour on our plates throughout the week.

Every morning I lay out the ingredients for that night’s meal and that means that when we pile in the door after a long day there are no decisions to be made on what to eat. Too often have I found that late and rushed decisions are generally bad decisions. Where possible we will always sit down as a family and eat together. Meal times are for chat and having fun. We all get to discuss our day and what happened and as a result we take our time to eat and enjoy our food more.

Finally though, I have taken the time to learn about food and flavours. I went on a cookery course and now I really enjoy creating meals that are interesting and nutritious. It is amazing how the addition of herbs, spices or different ingredients can transform a dish into something special. As a result we have a huge variety of meals open to us and no longer just rotate around the same five or ten dishes all the time.

Has your transformation influenced your partner/kids/family/friends or work colleagues? 

This is the legacy from Operation Transformation I am most proud of because the positive effect the programme had on my family is unbelievable. Success in transforming our lives relies not only on our strength but on the support we receive from those around us and I was very lucky to have had Maureen and the kids behind me from day one.

Maureen started to run soon after the programme ended and is now an accomplished half marathon runner. The children play team sports both inside and outside school and we all participate in our local ParkRun every Saturday. As a parent, to have your 8 year old go to bed on Friday night looking forward to running 5k the following morning is a wonderful thing. Leaving the house every morning with a bag for work in one hand and sports bag in the other is now natural for all of us.

I regularly get messages on Facebook and Twitter from people that watched and still watch OT. When competing in last year’s Dublin half Ironman triathlon a fellow competitor came up and mentioned that he wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for following my journey, that makes the effort very worthwhile.

family on a mountain

Have you any advice for other people who are trying to lead a healthier life?

‘Keep Trying’ – too often we give up when things start to get tough but if we take the effort one day at a time and commit to never giving up then everything gets easier.

Changing your whole lifestyle isn’t simple but just small changes can make such a difference to your health. You don’t have to dive in as deep as I did, but deciding to go for a walk a couple of times a week will have huge benefits for your health. Swapping out a treat for a healthy snack once a day can make a big difference on the scales over a period of time and small changes are much easier to maintain in the long run.

But most of all, never give up! The strongest people are the ones that dust themselves off and get back up when they fall off the wagon. Keep trying and you will always see results.

Looking back, what is the best thing that came out of your time on Operation Transformation?

This one is easy! I couldn’t be prouder of how OT had such an effect on my family. I was the one that needed the help and filled in the application form. I was the person that needed to radically change their lifestyle, but now I have a family that has grasped exercise, healthy eating and mindfulness with both hands and applied it to their lives too.

I never would have seen that happening and I am so glad that it did.

Final word?

I truly believe that everyone has the power within them to make a change in their lives. Small changes make all the difference and they are the ones that are easiest to maintain and build on. The hard part is taking the first step. Do things with a friend, but if you are the friend, then offer all the support you can, you have no idea how much help you can be.

Posted: 01/03/2016 12:40:22 by Killian Byrne

About Me

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Killian Byrne
Our guest blogger. Event manager and Dad of two, Killian was a leader on Operation Transformation. He has continued his amazing lifestyle change since his time on the show ended in 2012.