Operation Transformation kicked off in suitably frenetic fashion this morning as presenter Kathryn Thomas pulled off a mini race through the country to reveal your first two OT leaders, surprising two hopefuls as they went about their day, expecting to hear someone else had been picked for the slot.
Kathryn's first port of call was Tubbercurry, Co Sligo where she dashed from doorway to supermarket to surprise Paul Murphy (41) as he went about his business in the shop his family owns, along with the neighbouring pub and hotel, which has been in the family for 40 years.
As manager of that hotel, father to two children and devoted husband and son, Paul is a busy man. Since getting married and having another child Paul wants to change his lifestyle and start looking after his health, particularly as he's just two years younger than his father was when he passed away from septicaemia.
Kathryn had to be quick as news travels fast when you're as well known as Paul, and in no time his mother Mary was out beckoning family, friends and neighbours over to share in the celebration.
When asked why she thought joining OT would be good for her son, Mary said she'd been trying for "years and years and years and years" to get Paul to shed the pounds. Kathryn assured her this year was Paul's year, not least because he has "all of Tubbercurry" behind him.
Meet our first leader Paul, pictured here with his mum Mary!! Paul Murphy (41) from Sligo is the manager and owner of Murphy’s Hotel in Tubbercurry. Watch our next reveal live on Facebook with @gokathrynthomas at 1.30pm!! #OperationTransformation pic.twitter.com/nAEfxl6OPQ— OT RTÉ (@OpTranRTE) November 20, 2018
Paul himself said he was "ready" for the challenge, though he "still couldn't believe" when the team came in the door. "I was looking at the phone thinking I was going to go into the hotel and sit down to watch who else was getting [chosen]", he laughed.
Paul said that his reasons for joining were self-confidence and body image, adding "I have been hiding all my life and not accepted my weight".
"New chapter in my life, dawn of a new beginning, Indestructible! I just can’t wait to get started. I feel alive."
Next, it was onto scenic Ballyshannon, Co Donegal where Kathryn surprised Cathal Gallagher (48) at his home, as well as his wife Agi and daughter Maja who smiled confidently into the camera from the second it entered the house!
Agi was overcome with emotion, having signed Cathal up for the show to give him a "big kick" into gear to get fit again. She said, through tears, that he's "a good man" who does a lot for others but needs to look after himself.
Cathal is busy man: as well as working with the Ambulance service for the last 20 years, in a job he loves, he is also a peer support worker, helping colleagues through difficulties and struggles. Before this, he worked in a factory where he suffered a serious hand injury that led to him having seven surgeries and the top of his middle finger amputated.
It was after this incident that his weight started to climb, as he grew isolated and would stay at home eating. Now, with type two diabetic and high cholesterol, he's ready to focus on his health. He's managed to lose 12 stone in the past, so he's capable of working hard and that is motivating him.
On why he's starting this journey now, Cathal said "I look after people, I forgot to look after myself". He added, "It's time to put myself first for a change". He also mentioned that he's looking to be an inspiration not just for himself, but for the paramedics he works with who need someone to guide them.
With three more leaders to be announced, Kathryn will be back on the road tomorrow!