cycle of change | 

Operation Transformation’s Dr Sumi says, ‘January is NOT the time to start your health kick’

‘Make it a day that suits you’

Dr Sumi Dunne

Kathryn Thomas and the team from Operation Transformation

Karl Henry from Operation Transformation

Esther McCarthySunday World

Top TV doctor Sumi Dunne has a word for advice for those making New Year’s resolutions - don’t!

While the GP is a big advocate for and supporter of holistic and healthy life changes, she believes that the New Year is not the time to take them on.

A better approach, she thinks, is to plan what changes you want to make in your life and how to have the best chance of achieving them.

“Number one, don't make it January the first,” she says. “Make it a day that suits you, make it a day that you've got all of the other supports in place to say: ‘You know what? If I'm going to make change, the change is going to be successful, and it's going to be supported’.

“A date as to say January 1st can be overwhelming. With that overwhelming aspect, it sometimes may not lead to the outcome that people want, which is keeping it going.

“But leaning into it and saying: ‘By the end of January, or certainly by the time spring comes, I want to be walking every day. Or I want to be thinking about can I get better quality sleep’.

“All of those little things will then enhance any other journey that you choose to take around health, around exercise and around wellbeing. I don't get caught with January the first as a date. Moving forward and thinking about it almost in a cycle of change, that is really important.”

Sumi returned to our screens this week with a new series of Operation Transformation. The show has been a big ratings hit for RTÉ as is inspires audiences to live a longer and happier life.

She hints that there may be changes in store as the show undergoes some revamps.

“You can expect a lot of positivity, a great journey on wellness and health, supporting communities - and lots more new great challenges from Karl (Henry).

“We're very much looking at health indicators to include fat and inches, hydration, blood pressure, metabolic age, which always gets people very interested.

“My particular area of expertise, general health, the health indicators that look at you overall be it your cholesterol, your blood sugar levels, how do you sleep, your heart rate, the impact on your cardiovascular health, the impact on your overall health moving forward.”

Kathryn Thomas and the team from Operation Transformation

As well as a huge focus on mental well-being, she says that the show will cover new aspects such as upper and lower body strength and balancing. “There will be an indicator around weight but less emphasis on that, because we are so much aware that that journey to wellness doesn't include just a number on a scale.”

Sumi balances her TV expertise with GP work in Portarlington and is also a lecturer in a Dublin medical school. “That's how my working week is constructed together with being a very proud mother of four, which seems to be the fullest time job of all.”

As a medical trainee based in the UK, she first met her Irish hubby Matt and moved to Ireland seven years later to raise their family.

“We met up a mountain in Kathmandu and his first words to me were howya,” she laughs.

“We laughed and we laughed and I just remember that this is probably one of the most funniest people that I've ever met.”

Karl Henry from Operation Transformation

Even then, she didn’t think it was anything more than a holiday romance, but the couple stayed in touch and grew closer. “We then engaged in a long distance relationship through my training years for seven years,” she says, adding that moving to Ireland became the natural next step.

“It was very much, I guess, logistics. Matt is involved in business. So that was very much the main reason for the move that I had been considering as so many doctors do at some point look at different countries to go and practice in.

“I was already looking to come to experience to work in health in a different healthcare service, different healthcare country, close enough to my parents who were then living in the UK. It worked easier that way.”

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