'People would stare and snigger', says leader Cathal
Operation Transformation leader Cathal Gallagher was the biggest loser on the show this week, shedding a massive 16 pounds.
The paramedic, who piled on the weight after a house fire forced his family into rented accommodation and left him dealing with banks and insurance companies, said he's thrilled with the results.
Now into week two of the show, Cathal has become something of a household name - so much so that even the grocery shopping takes longer now.
"One morning this week I had a lot on and I couldn't get the shopping done because so many people want to talk to you when you go to the supermarket," he said.
"Little old women who I barely know are all over to me and practically wanting my autograph."
Cathal, who began the show weighing 26 stone and 10 pounds, admitted that he has seen people staring at him, and "sniggering" and "laughing" because of his weight.
"People would have stared," Cathal said.
"I wouldn't have been in the pool here this last couple of years. You'd be aware of people sniggering and laughing.
"People would steer clear of me on the bus; people wouldn't want to sit beside me."
The affable Donegal man says he feels lucky to be on the show, because his wife, Agi, applied on his behalf. The show's producers have never accepted a third party application before.
Often, his unhealthy lifestyle was the cause of friction in their household.
"It caused conflict in the house. I had my head stuck in the sand. I now realise my wife had major concerns about my health. I was a cardiac arrest waiting to happen," he said.
Cathal vowed he will never return to the weight he was when he started Operation Transformation and is ready to spend much of this year getting his health back.
His confidence has finally returned, he added.