Full of grace: Operation Transformation leader Marie
PALLASGREEN’S Marie Grace is unrecognisable physically but more importantly mentally after her Operation Transformation experience.
On the final episode of this year’s series, Dr Eddie Murphy, psychologist, put it best when he said: “Everyone in the country has fallen in love with you. I think you are amazing.”
Mare lost 1st 5lbs in just two months. Her starting weight was 14st 1lbs.
“I am definitely much happier, much fitter and much healthier than I would have been. I am gone back to the way I would have been before I lost Michaela. I am just way happier in myself,” said Marie, who is married to Fergal.
The couple tragically lost their daughter Michaela over two years ago after Marie was rushed to hospital at six months pregnant. Marie spoke movingly and honestly about the profound effect this had on her.
In one clip Marie and Fergal visited Michaela’s grave.
“It was about two years since I had been there. I would have gone down after I lost Michaela first but as soon as I got pregnant with Daisy I had it in my head that you are not supposed to go into a graveyard when you are pregnant so I wouldn’t go in but Daisy is a year old next week and I still hadn’t gone in up to a couple of weeks ago,” said Marie.
Her story has resonated with many. A couple drove down from Mayo and one woman travelled from Cork to meet her in N&R Hair Studio, where she works as hairdresser. Before the final 5k run a lady told her she has helped her family.
“She was crying her eyes out. She said her daughter lost a baby at the same time as I did. She said they were not ready to deal with it yet. She said they will miss watching me on the television because they could see how much I have changed.
“It was lovely but it was upsetting too because she was so upset. She said they barely would have spoken about their loss before they saw me on the television. She said they now are starting to talk about it. If me talking about helps one couple it is great,” said Marie.
The mum of Lily Mai and Daisy has also inspired her own community. As part of her training regime Marie started walking five kilometres three nights a week from Knockane GAA Club. And over 100 joined her every night.
“We will keep them going as long as people show up. If only myself and someone else turns up I will do it. It is Mondays and Fridays at 8pm and Wednesdays at 7.30pm.
“It was lashing rain on Monday and Wednesday of last week and there was over 100. For such a small area it is crazy how many are showing up.
“Loads of people have come up to me saying, ‘I have nearly a stone lost’ and ‘I am following the plan’.
“One girl, in particular. is thrilled. She said, ‘Please can you keep the walks going on after the show finishes’. Whoever wants to show up is more than welcome,” said Marie.
She isn’t the only one to have lost weight in the Grace household.
“Fergal has lost over a stone and 2 or 3 lbs. We would never have got a babysitter before – I wouldn’t have bothered going out – where as now we are actually getting one and Fergal comes out running with me.”
Going from blonde to jet black for her transformation was a shock to viewers but not to those who know Marie best.
“Being a hairdresser I’m always changing the colour of my hair,” she said.
But the dramatic make-over meant that she passed individuals who she worked with on the show in the corridors of RTE and they didn’t recognise her! But everybody agrees it suits her down to the ground.
Another big change was stopping smoking.
“I am off them for over eight weeks. It doesn’t bother me at all,” she said.
Marie says applying for Operation Transformation is “definitely one of the best things I have ever done in my life”.
“It really was and if you asked Fergal he would say the same thing. He keep saying to me, ‘Marie you are like a completely different person’.”