19 Aug 2022

Dr Eddie Murphy: The pressure is rising as reality dawns on Operation Transformation leaders


Last week was week three of Operation Transformation, and the pressure was rising a little bit.

During the first two weeks, the weight loss comes easy, but now the novelty is over and the grind of structure, planning, and organisation comes into play.

The old crutches of chocolate, jambons, alcohol, crisps and sweets are out, while cooking, walking, resistance training and running comes in.

Out with the old in with the new — will our leaders cope? I believe they will with a few wobbles along the way.

Battling Sarah (leader Sarah O’ Callaghan, 27)

Sarah had training in the army reserves and she has applied military planning and self-discipline to this process.

Sarah receives an injection that stops the production of oestrogen the hormone that played a significant role in her cancer. This injection effectively puts Sarah into early menopause.

Its side effects include bloating and fluid retention.

Sarah's target was 3lbs last week, but she lost 2.5lbs. Given the impact of the injection in a week where Sarah would normally put on weight, losing 2.5lbs needs to be seen as a success.

Increasingly, Sarah's mood is lifting week by week and the uplift in mood is visibly linked to exercise. Mood and motivation are all aided by movement. Go Sarah — she is amazing.

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Suppressing David (leader David Cryan, 38)

Is there any stopping David Cryan?

After posting a 1 stone 2.5 week one weight loss, he lost 6lbs last week. Amazing.

Aoife, the Operation Transformation registered dietician, did some very interesting work with David on how to manage his food intake in the context of shift work, noting that he needs to hit his three main meals and two snacks in a 24-hour period.

David is visibly shrinking in front of our eyes. We have discovered that David doesn’t want to let anyone down. He does not have the lifeskill of saying 'no', except to himself. David denies his own need, but it comes at a cost.

David is nervous of me as the psychologist on Operation Transformation. Like many men, language and an openness to our emotions are often stunted, diverted or suppressed. But we cannot deny this part of ourselves. It would not be a true transformation for David if this area is not addressed.

David is naturally reticent but he also knows its an area that needs exploring. He is in safe hands. I will keep you posted.

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You can't pour from an empty cup (leader Mary Diamond, 52)

I was back down to Mayo again, but I will tell you about that session in a minute.

Mary smashed her target by 50%, losing 3lbs (target 2lbs). That’s a great achievement.

Mary is coping well with little cravings now for chocolate. She is getting fitter day by day as she completes Karl's programme.

In our session, we discovered that Mary experiences guilt if she is away from her son, and also the stress of long-term caring. The impact of caring for an adult son with an intellectual disability has taken its toll.

I used a phrase that struck a chord with Mary that is true for anyone that is in a situation of chronic stress or long term caring: 'You can’t pour from an empty cup’. The need to put yourself and your health front and centre is new to Mary.

Our session, was powerful, profound and cathartic. Mary was amazingly brave. Through her raw honesty and catharsis, a space has been created. In this space, exercise seems have entered with a positivity of mood, and has created a space Mary can enjoy guilt free. Mary is one brave woman.

Cool, Calm & Collected (leader Wayne O'Donnell, 29)

Wayne added a 6lb weight loss to his first week of 11.5lbs. He is now 16 stone, so hopes never to see the 17-stone mark again.

Like half the country, he was struck down with flu this morning. Hopefully he can keep it to himself.

As a youth worker, I loved seeing Wayne working out and sharing his new-found insights with the youth group.

Wayne initially as concerned about how his arm — which was shattered in a sporting accident — would hold up to the exercise program. No bother to him: he is flying at it.

We would like him to progress from being a coach on the side-lines of the basketball team to being a player. I predict this will happen as his weight drops and fitness improves.

Still it is only week three so we don’t want to see any complacency or taking the eye of the ball — after all, Wayne wants to shine on the finale.

Resilient and always learning (leader Felicity Moroney, 30)

Felicity’s had a tough week. Life tends to scupper the best-laid plans. Felicity is a busy young mum, juggling childcare, crèche, work, commuting etc.

This week, her daughter Lauren had a virus. Normally this would have been an opportunity to fall back into old unhealthy habits. But no, Felicity dug in and went out for her walk/runs, did her shopping and cooking and walked away with a 4.5lbs weight loss.

To me she has reserves of resilience unknown to her. This week we learned that Felicity is reluctant to ask for help and support and when she opens up she has too high an expectation.

If she is then left down, she takes this particularly hard and suppresses her anger to the point that she can become passive aggressive.

Felicity is not alone in this as tens of thousands of people struggle with passive aggression. Much of this stems from the loss of her mother when she was one year old. During these formative years, life rules were laid down, such as, ‘people won’t be there for me, I need to be self-reliant’.

Fundamentally we need each other to survive. Looks like I will be visiting Felicity shortly.

One thing I also know about Felicity is that she is a great learner, something I admire very much.

Dr Eddie Murphy runs a psychological and counselling service in Portarlington, Co Laois. If you are organising a speaker or training for school, community, voluntary, sporting or work groups, call Dr Eddie on 087 1302899 or go to dr.eddie.murphy.psychologist

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