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Why most of us need our own Operation Transformation

I CLIMBED a volcano this Christmas. I'm not speaking metaphorically, I actually climbed a volcano on the island of Lanzarote.

It took me two hours to get to the top, and when I eventually got there -- there was no waving of hands in the air, no sense of fulfilment -- I simply felt my breathing tight, my waist too big and my calves too lumpy.

All of my indulgences over the last few weeks had solidified around my arteries and I made my New Year's resolutions there and then.


Give up the evil white bread, and stop treating myself anytime I had achieved even the tiniest of goals.

Yes, I had joined the gym some weeks ago, but life got a little busy (and a little sad, with the death of my partner's mother).

We all know that many, many things can trigger bad eating habits -- from a relationship break-up or being let go from work, to the simple inertia that can set in once winter arrives and the evenings are for telly and chocolate, rather than walks and salads.

As a nation, we are fooling ourselves into ignoring the effects of obesity.

As we sluggishly go from house to car to work to car, to home again -- all the while consuming without care -- we are costing the health service millions of euro every year for our weight-related illness.

We are saying to our kids that it's okay to be a size 16, at the age of 16. And we are doing all this, while we stock up our trollies and shopping bags with too much sugar and fat.

Tonight, Operation Transformation is starting on RTE 1, and this year it will be on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I have, yet again, the pleasure of working on this show.

The five leaders -- Monica Percy from Carlow, Greg Starr from Tipperary, Gavin Walker from Kildare, Deirdre Hosford from Cork and Charlotte O'Connell from Cavan -- will present themselves to the nation tonight and tomorrow night.

Like in other years, they will bare their souls, revealing why each has decided to change their lives. Each one, under the guidance of Dr Eva, Karl and Dr Eddie, will explain the trigger that has brought them to the unhappy place of being obese, and all will no doubt inspire us to follow them through the eight weeks, as we all shed the pounds together.

While in Lanzarote, I saw what had normally been kept within the United States -- overweight people in those electric mobility buggies, too big to walk around, too overweight to enjoy a stroll along the promenade.

It's January 8, 2013, and now is a really, really good time to make a change.