X Factor finalist Mary Byrne has been included as one of the contestants on this year’s Celebrity Operation Transformation, writes Joyce Fegan.
“I had to ring my manager back to find out was she messing — so I was thrilled, really thrilled [to be asked],” said Byrne, 58.
“Two years ago, I did a juicing diet and I lost near enough two stone and I’ve kept that off for two years only due to my daughter, but I haven’t lost anything since that.”
Her fellow contestants on the RTÉ show include beauty writer Triona McCarthy, 44, chef Gary O’Hanlon, 39, social media ‘influencer’ James Patrice, 28, and The Voice singer Kayleigh Cullinan, 21.
Byrne, who gave up smoking four years ago, was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid during her 2010 stint on The X Factor, having always struggled with her energy levels.
The singer recently started swimming, which she said she finds great for her arthritis and her mental health. She has been vocal about her struggles with depression and would love to help others be more open about their mental health.
Byrne’s aim is to still be on stage at age 70 and she wants to have the energy to do so.
Triona McCarthy, from Schull, West Cork, wrote an article about her decision to take part in the show.
“The amount of people who have gotten in contact, they felt that they could really relate to the piece I wrote because they’re not obese,” she said, “but there is just that stone, they want to be healthier.”
The beauty expert said she does not have a huge amount of vanity and is happy with how she looks.
“I actually feel I have the opposite of body dysmorphia,” she said. “I actually always think I look all right and that it’s other people who seem to be more concerned about my weight — it’s like my mum or my sisters are always saying to me, ‘Triona if you just lost a few pounds your life would be so much easier’, and I have to go, ‘Guys it’s OK, I’m actually happy’.
“I don’t see it. In this beauty-obsessed world — it’s what I do for a living and I don’t have a huge amount of vanity.”
Longford-based chef Gary O’Hanlon said his primary motivation was energy to be with his growing children as they become more active.
“I’m most looking forward to a change of lifestyle. Very few chefs look after themselves,” he said.
“The trigger was probably wee Ollie being born last year, Cora’s three-and-a-half, my daughter, and the wee boy’s 11 months old. He’ll turn one right when we start. And you know what? I don’t want to be an out-of-shape daddy when they start getting more active.
“I’m at a stage now where I’ve put a big graft into the restaurant [Viewmount House] for the past nine years, we’re well established now, and I need to start taking a wee bit more time for myself instead of just pushing on and pushing for stars and everything else.”
Presented by Kathryn Thomas, Celebrity Operation Transformation will air for four one-hour long episodes on RTÉ One from September.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner