I was so heavy my wife walked out with our child. She prob­a­bly saved my life

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Ni­amh Walsh SHOWBUSINESS ED­I­TOR ni­[email protected]­sun­day.ie

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

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