“When you see someone fight so hard for their life, you can’t give up on yours,” said recently widowed Jennifer Bonus from Cork who has been selected as an Operation Transformation leader.
Jennifer, 37, a mother of one from Douglas, is the second of 20 hopefuls who will appear in the show’s seventh series, due to be screened in January.
Her husband, Noel O’Donovan, died last year after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in Mar 2011. “He never gave up and I can’t give up either,” she said.
Jennifer joins Deirdre O’Donovan, a mother of two from Carrrignavar, Co Cork, the first of five leaders to be picked for the popular show.
“I am hoping to get my life back on track. I have lost sight of it for a long time,” Jennifer told RTÉ’s John Murray yesterday.
Jennifer, who has a daughter, Tara, 12, said she developed bad eating habits during her husband’s illness.
“Noel was on a special diet and Tara and I used to go to takeaways and eat in the car. Everything was quick, quick, quick,” she said.
Noel used to encourage Jennifer to exercise when he was ill but she never did. “I was the couch potato but I don’t want to be that couch potato any more,” she says.
Jennifer, who weighed 9st 10lbs six years ago and now weighs 12st 2lbs, wants to lose weight and get fit for her daughter’s sake. She is particularly conscious that her own mother died aged 46 from a heart attack and her father has had a quadruple bypass.
Jennifer is hoping to be fit enough to complete a 10km walk or run in her husband’s honour.
The show’s psychologist, Dr Eddie Murphy, said Jennifer was chosen because she represents single working mums who struggle with the work/life balance.
Dr Murphy said Jennifer, who smoked and had an extremely high cholesterol level of eight, needed to make a number of lifestyle changes.
The show’s host, Kathryn Thomas, who called to Jennifer’s workplace to tell her she was one of the leaders, said she represented women who were overweight, not obese.
“With so many women around the country it is that stubborn few stone that needs to go,” she said.
Katherine is spending the week travelling to the homes of the five selected leaders.
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