Born to run | 

How the new year is shaping up to be Kathryn Thomas’ best yet with her two girls

‘It has added or given that extra sparkle to my life if you like’

Kathryn with the four Operation Transformation experts


With Ellie and Padraig on her wedding day

Kathryn with Padraig and daughters Ellie and Grace

Denise SmithSunday World

Kathryn Thomas knows she has trouble on her hands, and it comes in the form of her cherubic one-year-old daughter, Grace.

“She is starting to blow kisses to everyone now. I swear, I was opening the door this morning to Joseph the DPD driver and she was literally jumping out of my arms to give him kisses, I have created a monster,” laughs the adoring TV presenter and entrepreneur.

“Myself and Joseph are on a first name basis by the way,” she winks, “sure we kept each other sane during lockdown.”

Bounding back onto our small screens this year to helm the 16th series of Operation Transformation, the 43-year-old powerhouse is radiating positivity and good vibrations for the year ahead.

Not least because she is relishing every last second of motherhood. Having previously opened up about her own fertility struggles and the arduous IVF journey she embarked upon alongside her husband, Padraig McLoughlin, becoming a mother has been the star’s most rewarding and fulfilling chapter in her life to date.


“It has given me a purpose, I have always been that person that believes life is for living and not to take things too seriously and I instill that attitude into the girls,” beams the broadcaster at the very mention of her daughters, 4-year-old Ellie and baby Grace.

“It has added or given that extra sparkle to my life if you like.”

Dressed in ski socks and a wooly hat while she finds a quiet spot at the back of her garden to take a call from Magazine + life may not be picture perfect, but it’s perfect for the family of four.

“Instagram is not real life and if you could see the state of me and the house, but everyone knows that. I might look put together on TV but I am rocking ski socks and a wooly hat now.

“My time management is also a bit shocking. I could say I am one place and then be somewhere else entirely. I have friends that have lists and that are very regimented. I was a little unorganised and with the kids sometimes you are better off being a bit loose because nothing ever goes to plan.”

Kathryn with the four Operation Transformation experts

Gushing about her gorgeous girls she adds:

“Ellie is very caring and considerate and there is no jealousy, but I know that is all coming down the tracks.

“Grace is a real bruiser, it’s her way or the highway and she is very sure of what she wants and what she doesn’t want.”

Admitting that she wants time to stand still to capture every last moment of the girls’ childhood, the Barretstown ambassador reflects on the bittersweet realisation that she’ll never be in the throes of nappies and night feeds again.

“My sister is pregnant which is the most amazing news, she is due her first baby soon. She moved back from the States and I was packing up all the newborn bits and I said to Padraig, ‘will we go again?’ and he said, ‘do you want a divorce?’, she cackles.

“We are so lucky and so blessed. I know I will never have those newborn cuddles again, they are behind us but what is ahead of us is so exciting.

“Ellie is at a beautiful age and she is asking all the questions and trying to make sense of her environment and the world around her.

“Her cat Archie went to heaven recently and we were trying to navigate that and it is just so rewarding seeing them grow up but then selfishly I am still glad that I still have a little baby.

“The responsibility that comes with being a parent and educating them and keeping them safe is the most rewarding job.”

The Pure Results Bootcamp founder is now even more conscious of her and health and well-being since starting her own family.

“I am in my 40s now and my husband is in his 50, thankfully both my parents are alive and fit but sickness has visited our life and our friends and our social circle, and that is only going to continue the older we get.

Kathryn with Padraig and daughters Ellie and Grace

"That is why for me, promoting health and wellness is so important. Not just physical but mental health too. If I don’t get outside it’s not good, I am just not as happy a person if I don’t get my run.”

Living and breathing the ethos of RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, it’s little wonder that the mum-of-two is returning for her 12th series.

“You know we did a survey last year and 72 per cent of people that watched the show last year made one positive change in their life if not two, so whether that was using the recipes or taking up the ad break challenge or getting out for a walk.

“It is a phenomenal show and a very important programme. On average, 373,000 people watched the show last year, that’s a 32.5 per cent audience share. In Ireland, there is no show that can testify to having the viewership, you’d be hard pressed anywhere in Europe or even the world to have ratings like that going into season 16.”

Despite the overhwhelming success of the RTÉ juggernaut, there can be no denying the level of vitriol and hate that was levelled at the series in recent years. Many critics called the series out-dated and slammed the producers for promoting disordered eating and encouraging fat-phobia.

Magazine + couldn’t help but ask how this impacted the TV presenter on a personal level.

“I would be lying if I said it didn’t (hurt) but I very much take the attitude like the rest of the team that we need to keep making the programme we are making and we know the support we have.

“I don’t go answering anything on social media. I don’t put any credence into the negativity that comes online because I don’t think it is healthy.

“A lot of the criticism was coming from people that hadn’t watched the show in the last couple of years and they were making assumptions about the show from seven to ten years ago.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but can I stand over the show we make and am I proud of it? Yes, I can and yes, I am.

“It has changed and it has evolved. It was quite weight-centric when Gerry Ryan was presenting the show 16 years ago but the last 5 years it has evolved so much.We take a very holistic view on health overall.

“I think people don’t realise that we have experts who are professionals in their field. We have a multi-disciplinary team of a general practitioner, clinical Phycologist, dietician and a personal trainer.

“It isn’t just about weight either. Last year we created education and awareness around menopause with Kathleen because it can stop women in their tracks and be so devastating.

“Someone else was giving up smoking and other people were dealing with sleep apnoea - the show is education in itself.”

The show has also given the broadcaster the opportunity to work and raise a family.

“Grace came in October of last year and then I was back to work in December for OT. She was like my travel buddy and she was so mobile she came with me everywhere.

All they do is eat, poo and sleep.

With Ellie and Padraig on her wedding day

“We set up a voice recording studio in my walk-in wardrobe. I’d have Steve who I work with at the other end of a Zoom and she’d have to be fed and I’d just stop recording and put her on the boob and Steve was just like ‘I’ve literally seen it all.’

“I think Covid has been a good leveller it’s not unusual to see people in their jammies or unusual to see the dirty dishes in the background and now not unusal to be setting up a studio in your wardrobe. If you said that 5 years I would have thought you were cracked.

“I was very clear if I was going to go back to work I needed all the flexibility or else it wouldn’t work.

“Some people would stop me and say ‘you are back already’ but it wasn’t like returning to a 9 – 5 job.

“I was doing a two and a half days work and I was able to bring my childminder to set. There’s definitely something different about this show, they are family.”

Today's Headlines

More Irish Showbiz

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos