By Lynsey Dreaper
When it comes to losing weight many of us prefer to remain under the radar and battle away quietly, almost hoping that nobody notices. This is not the case for Dunshaughlin's Tony Flynn who has not only publicised his long-time issue with weight, he's doing something about it and taking nineteen other people along for the ride.
Tony has set up Dunshaughlin Weight Loss Challenge with the sole objective that he and the nineteen other participants take three months out of their lives to change their lifestyle, their eating habits, exercise routine and attitude to food and make a change for once and for all that will see them lose weight and continue a new, healthier way of living far beyond the challenge.
In difference to many weight loss challenges, the roots of this idea delve deeper than personal achievement. Each of the participants is seeking sponsorship and all of the proceeds will go to the Make a Wish foundation.
This is a charity that is very close to Tony's heart and, speaking with him, it is obvious that he has huge emotional ties to the work of the foundation. "My sister Alice-Anne was lead volunteer for Make a Wish in Cork at one stage," Tony explains, "she had a number of wishes that I hadn't any hand in but which I lived alongside her to an extent. One wish that really struck a nerve with our family was a wish for a little boy called Ethan. Ethan was ten years old and was suffering from an extremely rare form of cancer. His wish was to be king for a day. He didn't want to be whisked off to Disneyland or to go to Florida to swim with dolphins, he just wanted to be king for a day. Alice-Anne got together such amazing volunteers and a hotel set up a room completely in Medieval style. A limo picked Ethan and his family up from his house and brought him to the hotel, all of his friends were there, he sat on a throne, his teachers were there and Alice-Anne had arranged for actors in full medieval costume to make the whole event more real. It was an amazing day, sadly Ethan passed away four weeks later but the Make a Wish foundation did more for that boy than you can imagine."
This is what spurred Tony into taking action, making a difference to his own life and the lives of the nineteen people who have decided to accompany him on this journey.
The objective of the challenge is to lose weight and, in keeping with the charitable theme, helping hands have come from all over the town. Peak Fitness have offered all twenty participants three fitness classes a week for the full three months, and intend on increasing the number of classes as the challenge progresses.
The main trainer is Oli Kirwan, alongside Lena Smith and Nicola Corcoran. Mary C Hutton is the physio for the group and Grace O'Malley is the nutritional advisor. All of these people have offered their time and expertise free of charge.
Bizzy BE's Coffee House in Dunshaughlin has offered all participants a 20% discount for the three months and is putting together a special Dunshaughlin Weight Loss Challenge menu to support the teams.
There are four teams in total: the green team is headed by Tony Flynn, captain of the red team is Naoise Hartigan, the yellow team captain is Steve 'Tyson' Williams and Leo Forde leads the blue team.
Some participants have several stone to lose, others have in the region of one and a half stone to shift. The thinking behind the will to lose weight lies in wanting to make a change. Tony's theory is if you want to find out about weight loss ask the heaviest man in the village, not the slimmest. Tony has tried everything and could write a book on weight loss at this point. He's determined now to make a permanent change which means changing his relationship with food, describing overeating as one of the hardest addictions to kick. This change will come in the way of support amongst the participants, a camaraderie and understanding that only they can provide one another.
A number of talks will take place over the three months, with WBF Feather Weight World Champion Patrick Hyland speaking to the group recently, an expert in weight management thanks to his athletic career. His fiancée also spoke about the importance of support from family and friends. Tony has many more treats up his sleeve including a race named after the challenge to take place in Fairyhouse on February 2nd and Ted Walsh, Fairyhouse sales and marketing executive and brother of jockey Ruby Walsh, is also a participant.
Tony is also adamant that there will be an element of tough love to the challenge and, while there will be unending support from all sides, he points out that no one is going to lose the weight for them, it's up to each person to dig deep and make this effort count.
The end of the challenge will see the leading man and the leading lady being awarded for having lost the most weight, which is calculated on a percentage basis, not in stones and pounds.
Sponsorship for the Dunshaughlin Weight Loss Challenge is going straight to an extremely worthy cause and every penny counts. The Facebook page has attracted almost 600 likes in an incredibly short time and donations can be made to each participant individually or to the overall fund by looking for Dunshaughlin Weight Loss Challenge page through the event link on www.mycharity.ie and check the Facebook page for further links. Tony can be contacted on (086) 7779667 and at DWLC2013@gmail.com