Kathryn Thomas is back on hosting and encouragement duties with a new group of leaders on Operation Transformation. She tells the RTÉ Guide's Janice Butler why 2019 is going to be a tough year to top and what she's exciting her about this year’s inspirational leaders.

2019 was a bit of a halcyon year for TV presenter and fitness guru Kathryn Thomas. She had her dream wedding with husband Padraig McLoughlin in Kilkea Castle in Co Kildare back in August and went on an incredible honeymoon right before Christmas to the Caribbean hotspot of Turks & Caicos with their daughter Ellie (almost 2). 

After bidding farewell to the mince pies and mulled wine, she says "I’m slowly working my way out of the haze of food and drink". She says she’s feeling rested and relaxed and ready for another year at the helm of Operation Transformation. She reflects on an incredible year and looks forward to another year as a fitness leader both on and off the television. 

Happy New Year Kathryn! Was your honeymoon before Christmas everything you’d hoped?
It was so beautiful. We wanted to take a proper break – after the wedding, Padraig and I just went for a few days to Italy but this was for two weeks. In the six years we’ve been together we haven’t taken a two-week holiday. We wanted somewhere that we could bring Ellie so this was perfect, we took a direct flight to Miami and then it was just another hour flight to get to Turks and Caicos.

We didn’t do a whole lot for the first week and that’s where I really felt the benefit. Then in the second week, we ventured out exploring. Then when we came home we had the four or five days in the lead up to Christmas, which was so special as well, especially with Ellie. 

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She’s a very well travelled little girl already – how is she on flights?
She’s amazing – it’s saying a lot that she got a suitcase and a toy airplane for Christmas! It’s a different sort of holiday with your child in that you’re up very early and in bed relatively early. I get asked a lot on my tips for travelling with a toddler but really, it’s as easy as you make it.

Everyone thinks the worst and thinks their child is going to be kicking and screaming on the flight but in reality, unless they’re sick or their ears give them trouble, once you have lots of distractions, fluids and snacks, it’s not that bad.

I went to the States when she was four months old and I’d say to anyone, if you’re going to travel, do it then because they are so easy at that age whereas at two they want to be up and down, so it’s a much more active experience than with a baby. But there was no way we were going on honeymoon without her. 

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You had a great 2019, but what are your thoughts on the year gone by?
It will be a hard one to top – what a special year for us. Getting married was a really big milestone for me and Ellie turning one and celebrating that and watching her take her first steps – all those things. But the wedding was really the icing on the cake. I think when you get married as an 'older’ person and what I mean by that is not in your 20s or early 30s, you’re at an age when you’re busier with kids and work and it’s harder to stay in touch with people. So to have our friends and family, some I hadn’t seen in a long time, altogether for three days, it was absolutely brilliant. 

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What stands out for you about this year’s Operation Transformation leaders?
Well, we have a couple on the show for the first time and I can’t wait to see Andrea and Barry in action – they’re a fabulous couple. I’m surprised we haven’t done it before with a couple because it’s going to be so inspiring for so many others in a relationship around the country who are both trying to lose weight.

I’m also excited to see how Shane gets on. He’s a teacher, a busy dad and he’s literally never at home. His wife is trying to keep everything together. He’s got such a massive complex and massive insecurities so finding out what’s holding him back is key. As always with OT, it will be more of the same but always with different personalities and stories. 

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You’ve become a leader yourself in the fitness world with your company Pure Results – does that help you relate to the people on Operation Transformation?
Yes, totally. We’re five years in business now and it’s really encouraging to be able to say that. Everyone says it’s a simple equation; move more and eat less equals losing weight which is 100% correct, but it’s what we do to put the hurdles in our way and a lot of that is tied up with our own image of ourselves, our own lack of self-belief and how we’re trying to juggle work and family life.

The cheek of me, for years, telling everyone you just have to find the time to exercise; now that I have a child, I know it’s not that easy. Our well-being often doesn’t come top of our priority list. Giving people the tools, time and know-how to ask themselves why they’re so unhappy – that’s why OT works and why the experts are all so important. I see it all the time with Pure Results as well – the real hard work comes with asking the hard questions and being honest with yourself. 

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Watch Operation Transformation on RTÉ One every Wednesday at 9:35pm.