LIMERICK’S youngest ever leader on Operation Transformation will be encouraging overweight teenagers across the county and the nation to tackle their battle with food over the coming weeks.
Kayleigh Yeoman, 18, from Corbally, revealed her emotional journey of being an unhappy teenager and ultimately weighing 15 stone and 9.5 pounds in the first episode of the new series of Operation Transformation last week.
“I want to be happy and look at myself and not have to hide who I am,” she told viewers.
After this transformation, she said she doesn’t want to see “lumps and bumps, a double chin and big cheeks” when she looks in the mirror, and wants to start relationships with people “without feeling self conscious.”
The young student is set to become a model to others struggling to slim down, as obesity amongst this age group has risen by 30% in recent years.
Kayleigh left school aged 16 because she felt she had no friends, and confessed to being a comfort eater.
“I eat when things go wrong, I eat when I feel bad, I eat when I feel happy,” she said. But her diet was never accompanied by exercise to balance her intake of calories from Chinese takeaways and sugary foods.
“I never really thought about going on the show until one day I just happened to be browsing through the RTE website. It struck me that throughout their past four series there has never been anyone as young as me who has been overweight. I’m sure there are people out there in the same position as me, who need someone to look up to. You don’t have to wait until you’re in your late 20s to lose weight you can do it now, ” she said.
Kayleigh was upset to learn that she put up eight pounds over the holiday season, but was encouraged by the team of experts in the field of nutrition and exercise to put that behind her now.
“I am absolutely delighted that all those overweight and obese teenagers have somebody to follow this year. I think you’re going to be brilliant,” said Dr Eva Orsmond, who also runs a health and weight loss clinic in Limerick.
Kayleigh was in and out of hospital when she was a teenager, as she picked up a stomach virus when she was a baby, which manifested itself in her teenage years. She was put on steroids in 2010 and this gave her a false appetite, leading to more weight gain.
Furthermore, just last year she was in a bad car accident which shook her confidence further. The public can follow her diet and exercise regime online, as well as the other four leaders from across the country and monitor their progress each week.