A Kiill man will be flying the flag for the Lilywhites in this year’s Operation Transformation.
The popular RTE weight loss and fitness show returned to television screens on, Tuesday January 8, at 8pm.
35-year-old Gavin Walker, originally from Tallaght, moved to Kill last year after his marriage broke up. The dad of four youngsters works shifts as a process technician at Pfizer in Greencastle. He currently weighs in at 18 st 7 lbs. The pounds have piled on since he’s been on his own, he told the Leinster Leader.
“That’s down to my bad cooking skills and a lack of exercise, and it’s something the show might be able to help me with,” he said.
“I think I’m the first person who has been a leader on the show who does shift work. A lot of people find that shift work can play havoc with your weight, so hopefully we can get some tips for shift workers.
“When I’m on night shift, I could have dinner before I go to work, another dinner later on at night, and at 2am when I’m feeling sluggish, a bar of chocolate and a bottle of Coke.”
Gavin’s work colleagues are rowing in behind him, and are starting their own Operation Transformation efforts this week.
“Nobody has given me any negative comments about taking part in the show, it’s all been positive encouragement,” he said.
Gavin has also had to adjust to cooking for just himself, and not a large family. “When you’re on your own, you still seem to cook big dinners as if you’re cooking for the whole family as well,” he said.
Surprisingly, Gavin rarely watched previous seasons of Operation Transformation, but he’s been catching up on YouTube since he was selected out of thousands of applicants to be a weight loss inspiration to the nation.
“I came across the application form for the show on the internet, so I filled it in and said I’d see what happens,” he said. “YouTube is a great thing, but I’ve been scaring myself a bit looking at the army challenges.”
Kildare’s own Sgt Mick Mulcahy and the staff at the Defence Forces Training Centre on the Curragh will return this season to put the leaders through their paces with some gruelling boot camp challenges.
Gavin was a keen martial artist in his teens and early twenties, but “when alcohol and women took over, I seemed to give it up” he joked. His ambition now is to get fit enough to take part in a White Collar Boxing fight.
“The plan is to be able to get more active with the kids as well, so rather than going to the cinema and McDonalds, we can go for a run around the park,” he said.
He will be cheered on by his mother and two sisters, who live in Tallaght, with his brother in Kilkenny “on the phone giving me some encouragement”.
He’s also had to learn to deal with being on camera while RTE filmed his ‘back story’ in preparation for tonight’s show. “I find it a bit awkward, normally I would shy away from that type of thing. The cameraman used to slag me that my face would turn to stone once the cameras were on, but I think I’m getting used to it,” he said.