Thomas Hynes.

‘It could easily happen to you’

HEALTH OT leader advises men and women in their 40s to look after themselves

A medical scare prompted Granard man Thomas Hynes to make several changes in his lifestyle. Currently appearing on our TV screens every Wednesday evening on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, Thomas tells Michael Keaveny about the experience...

Having suffered a heart attack four and a half years ago at the age of 46 years, Granard man Thomas Hynes made several changes to improve his health. However, these resolutions didn’t last and it was only when his dry cleaning business was forced to close during the pandemic that the reality of his health situation hit him and he decided to get serious.

“I didn’t take it seriously for two years but, in reality, I had a near miss. I was very lucky. I did my cardiac rehab in Mullingar General Hospital and got all the tools to lead a healthier life but they just filtered away as the year went by," he recalls.

Concern for his family made Thomas want to improve his lifestyle.

“Some of my eating habits were starting to affect my son and, in my own head, I decided I needed to make a change,” reveals Thomas.

To get extra help to meet his health goals, the Longford man turned to Operation Transformation, something he had been considering for a while and was delighted to be selected as a team leader for the show.

“The way Operation Transformation is set up is really good. The whole show is there to help you, from the leaders to the producers and the whole production team. A lot of the same production team have been working for 16 years ago since Gerry Ryan was presenting it so they have a lot of experience in it.

The experts are really good at giving you any information that you want. All you have to do is ask someone.

"If I have a question about food, I can ask the dietician Sophie Pratt. If I’m not feeling the best mentally, I can ask psychologist, Dr Eddie Murphy, for help or, if I need help with the exercises, I can go to Carl Henry. It's a great process,” enthuses Thomas.

While the show can get very personal, he believes it is necessary to help others as well as himself.

“It’s the process you've got to go through if you want to be a leader. Ultimately you are a leader and you are somebody who has to lead the country and lead people in certain categories and my category is cardiovascular disease for middle-aged men.

"I was a 46-year-old man and I thought I was invincible and that I was never going to have a heart attack. I just want to get that message to men and women that, if you’re in your mid-40s and you start to slide a little bit, then it could easily happen to you.”

For Thomas being healthy means looking at a number of factors, not just his weight, which is something he feels is only one factor in leading a healthy lifestyle.

“For me weight is down the pecking order in terms of factors. There are a lot of other factors I'd like to see coming down other than weight. I'm very focused on my cholesterol and visceral fat and other numbers rather than just my weight. If you exercise and try to have a healthy diet, your weight will look after itself," he feels.

Thomas is also most thankful for the support of his wife Eileen and son Harry on his journey.

"It’s a family effort. The three of us, we sort of bounce off each other. I think it would be difficult if you were trying to go through the process on your own. Harry's finding some of the foods challenging as any one would but he's trying everything. My wife is good at eating good food and I was half decent at exercise in terms of walking the dog or coaching teams so we work well together."

After his dry cleaning business shut down, Thomas opened his own wood-fired pizza company in Granard called Pizza Depot. Eating healthily and making pizzas aren't something that naturally go hand in hand but Thomas says it’s something he will have to work on.

“We’re launching a healthy pizza soon. It’s difficult to eat well in this job because you tend to do a lot of testing as well. So I’d be hoping to cut down to a slice to make sure everything's good, but it is certainly going to be a challenge going forward. But I've met all the challenges that have been put in front of me. It’s another one that I'm going to work on because this is my livelihood.”

Operation Transformation airs Wednesdays at 9:30pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.