I was so heavy my wife walked out with our child. She probably saved my life
A PARAMEDIC and leader on this season’s Operation Transformation has revealed how his wife’s decisive to be ‘cruel to be kind’ spurred him on to take part in the show and change his life.
Ballyshannon man Cathal Gallagher is Operation Transformation’s heaviest leader ever, topping the scales at 26 stone.
But the ambulance man said he had reached a point where he had given up on himself and life.
Even a break in his 10-year marriage to take stock of his precarious health situation failed to spur him into action. And his loving wife Agi didn’t stop her tough love at leaving her husband – she actually signed him up for the RTÉ show without telling him.
Speaking to the Irish Mail on Sunday, Cathal says his wife’s actions probably saved his life.
‘I didn’t decide [to partake in the show], it was Agi. Initially, she filled out the application and she told me about it when she got the call back from Operation Transformation. ‘I came home from work one Friday evening and she was all excited about having gotten a call from Operation Transformation. The penny didn’t drop initially as we had talked about the show. ‘I said, “The very best and good luck to you, I hope you lose plenty of weight,” and she said, “No, no, it’s not me, it’s you.”’ Agi took action after the brief break in their marriage failed to inspire Cathal to lose weight. The father of twoyear-old daughter Maja said that he had all but given up. ‘I lost all selfesteem. I lost all motivation. I felt as though I wasn’t worth bothering about. It’s awful to say, but that’s how I felt. ‘I’m a paramedic and I’m used to helping people. I help anyone I can. But when it comes to me I just had it in my head that I wasn’t worth bothering about.’
Not even his beautiful daughter Maja could motivate Cathal.
‘Agi and myself, we split up there for a few months last summer. Things were coming to a head and a bit of time out was needed. Agi had to think was I going to be there for Maja. She was trying to give me shock therapy.
He said: ‘It was a mutual thing to take some time out and refocus. I said, “Take the summer out in Poland and I’ll work on my weight and I’ll be a different person when you come back.” But I came to bring Maja and herself home and as soon as I walked in the door in Poland she said, “You’ve put on more weight,” and it was the disappointment in her face.
He said: ‘For the four months she was away I don’t think I put a pot or a pan on, it was all takeaways and feeling sorry for myself.’
But the health service worker is now upbeat and positive about the future for his family.
‘I’m getting on great. I have started the journey, it will take me
a long time to get to my ideal weight, but it is the kick in the backside that I needed.’
Cathal has worked in the ambulance service for over 19 years and said his lifestyle meant the weight crept up until it had reached a near catastrophic stage.
He believes his weight had started to affect his ability to do his role as a paramedic.
‘There are times we have to carry people. Circumstances where you would have to carry people from an upturned car, or if they land in a field or a ditch, or from a confined space or upstairs where they are unable to get down the stairs. I am carrying a lot of weight so then to put another 10 or 12 or whatever stone on top of that is putting me under immense pressure.’
Cathal said that local support has boosted his motivation.
‘Up here we are very often forgotten about, so I am hoping to inject a bit of positivity into this little corner of the north west.
‘Now the focus is on me but hopefully it will inspire others to follow my plan and give them a kick up the backside to do that little bit.
He said: ‘The support I am getting from the experts, from my community, from my colleagues, is going to keep me going.
‘I am hopeful I will make target on Sunday and I can’t wait. I just can’t wait.’
‘The kick in the backside is what I needed’
tough love: Cathal with Agi, who enrolled him in the programme
motivated: Leader Cathal had lost his self-esteem