Jean’s transformation after three years of crippling grief

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Operation Transformation team leader Jean Tierney from Bruff. Photo: David Cantwell
Operation Transformation team leader Jean Tierney from Bruff. Photo: David Cantwell

ON the face of it, Operation Transformation team leader, Jean Tierney from Bruff wants to lose weight and get a healthy lifestyle to fit into her wedding dress.

But dig a little deeper and she will tell you that the real challenge is to deal with the “crippling grief” that has made her comfort eat.

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Jean and her partner Paddy have dealt with three tragedies in as many years.

First, they had an ectopic pregnancy. Then their little girl, Sloane – which means warrior – lost her battle for life at just five days old in January of last year.

Their joy when Jean became pregnant again was dashed by a miscarriage.

With the anniversary of little Sloane’s passing from congenital heart disease looming, Jean felt she had to do something, both to get her eating back on track and to highlight the pain that parents feel on the death of a child.

“People don’t talk about child loss. We’re conditioned not to talk about it. We were so proud of Sloane – she fought so hard to stay alive but the loss and the grief were crippling,” Jean told the Limerick Post.

“I wanted to say to other couples that it’s okay to talk about your loss, to talk about your child. People are slow to do that”.

The Bruff woman realised that, on top of the pregnancy weight gain, she was on a road of emotional eating and when she saw the advertisement for volunteers for the RTÉ show, she applied and was not only accepted but made team leader.

At 15 stone, she is hoping to drop to around 13 by the end of the eight-week plan, “but it’s not just about losing the weight. It’s about lifestyle, how you feel and how you think. It’s all part of it”.

Jean works as marketing manager for House bar and restaurant in Limerick City and they have put the Operation Transformation meals on their menu.

“I’m so lucky to work with such fantastic people and they have been so supportive, not just about the programme, but through everything that has happened. People are marvellous. I’ve got so many messages of support. Nearly 1,500 turned out for the walk we organised in Lough Gur last week.”

Despite the delicious temptation of working in a bar and restaurant, Jean says her biggest weakness is her sweet tooth. “But the food part of the programme is delicious and quick to prepare. You think about a diet and you think about being hungry but I feel full the whole time”.

Jean has bought her wedding dress but the couple have yet to set a date.

“It won’t be the usual sort of wedding – we just want a party, really but I do want to fit into the dress,” she said.