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Karl is ‘fitting’ into life in West Cork

September 13th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Karl says that for many people September is the new January and a good time to make positive lifestyle changes. But the approach must be balanced and sustainable – otherwise it simply won’t last. (Photo: Paul Sherwood)

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Operation Transformation advisor Karl Henry has recently moved from Dublin to Clonakilty, where he’s rediscovered his love of surfing and is working on his next wellness collection for Dunnes Stores

OPERATION Transformation trainer Karl Henry has recently moved to West Cork with his family where he’s enjoying the lifestyle the area has to offer.

Karl, who turned 40 on his last birthday, said it was a case of trying out ‘the theory that things are more chilled out in West Cork than they are in Dublin!’

The wellness expert is no stranger to West Cork as his wife Jean is a native of Clonakilty, and his parents owned a spectacular cliff-top house in the area until recently.

The dad-of-two said they were motivated to move from the capital in search of a better work/life balance.

‘It’s been a very busy couple of years workwise, we’ve been flat out. I hit 40 and we said if we don’t do it now we’ll never do it. We had a gap where we thought it might actually work so we said we’d give it a go,’ he said.

He rang an estate agent friend and within two-and-a -half weeks, their Dublin home had gone sale agreed.

However, he admits they ‘did struggle’ a bit when it came to finding a house here, where the market is just as competitive as it is in the capital.

‘We were looking at two houses around May and we figured it would be one or the other. Just like in Dublin, the market is limited here and this was our last push before things dried up a bit over the summer.

‘It was tough, there was one other person bidding on the house that we bought, the whole country is going through it,’ he said.

Their new home is outside Clonakilty and they fell in love with everything about it: the home, the location and the all-important sea view.

‘It was built around 15 or 16 years ago and it’s in great condition, we’re very lucky. We want to put in an air-to-water system and solar panels, but that’s all for the time being.’

Karl, who works with around 30 personal training clients a week, said being based in West Cork won’t have any impact on his work, as he was ahead of the pandemic trend, when it came to working online. ‘Some of my corporate work is also virtual and anything else is just a train trip to Dublin,’ he said.

Jean is a GP and she has joined a practice in the area. ‘All her family and friends are here and she’s very happy,’ Karl said.

‘The pace is just a bit slower here. Even though work is just as busy, it’s the pace outside work that’s a bit slower, and it’s a lovely part of the world. You only realise when you come down how fabulous it is.’

He has started surfing again, has joined the local running club, and plans to join the cycling club.

Depending on what he’s working towards, he trains around five times a week, and says he’s just like everyone else when it comes to having to watch and maintain his weight.

He played rugby in school and said he was around two stone heavier than he is now, when he started college and before he got into running.

For Karl, though, it’s less about the weight on the scales and more about the bigger picture – which is being healthy for life.

And to achieve that you have to find movement you enjoy, and track it.

September, he said, is like the new January and people will look at things to get back on track.

‘Unfortunately, though, we’ll be hit with lots of messages, including before and after pics that are doctored. So making the right call is about asking yourself: ‘Can I do this for life? Does this work long term?’ and if it doesn’t, don’t do it, life is just far too short.

‘You have to look at something that’s balanced, a way of living, not a diet or a restrictive plan. If it is restrictive just save your money, don’t buy it.’

He has partnered with Pharmaton and said: ‘I’m a huge advocate for multivitamins as a supplement to any fitness journey. Exercising and eating well is half the battle, but if your body isn’t getting the proper vitamins it needs then you have a much bigger problem. Vitamins are an essential part of living well and with Pharmaton, a single capsule gives you everything you need to get that extra boost in life.’

Karl with his fellow Operation Transformation advisors. The show came in for some criticism last season, but Karl said as far as he knows, it will be back on screens in January.

For no particular reason he didn’t see RTÉs programme on former Operation Transformation advisor Dr Eva Orsmond and her wellness ‘hotel’ in Portugal.

She’s known for her strict eating plans – would that be his approach?

‘It wouldn’t be my approach, but her heart is in the right place, she wants to help people, she realises there’s an issue in the country with obesity and she’s right about that.

‘Everyone to their own. I think anyone who chases their dream like that, it’s admirable.’

He said, as far as he knows, Operation Transformation will be back on our screens in January

The long-running series came in for some criticism last season and was accused by some people of sanctioning diet culture.

Karl said everyone is entitled to their opinion. ‘It may not be the right opinion, but they’re entitled to it.

‘The reality is high weight, high body fat means a high risk of long- term health issues and my role in the show, and generally, is to help people live healthier and live better and give them the tools to do that.

‘As a country, we’re getting heavier and carrying more bad fat than we should.

‘We need to move more, pull back to basics in terms of food, cook more, prep more, eat real foods more and find exercise that we enjoy,’ he said.

Karl enjoys a large Instagram following, including many who tune in for his infamous weekly fridge organisation sessions!

He promises the approach will transform how you eat – and save you money on the weekly shop and reduce your waste.

‘We go through 95% of that fridge every week, because we know what’s there. It looks healthy, vibrant, all the things you aspire to be – if your fridge is a mess, chances are there are loads of other areas in your life that are a mess too,’ he said.

Karl has recently launched a wellness collection for Dunnes Stores, including a smart scales which has been a particular hit.

‘The dream was always do something like that.

‘Anything to get people well, that’s my underlying goal, to improve people’s health and wellness,’ he said, adding that the range will soon be expanded.

Right now, though, he’s as busy as ever with a waiting list of around seven to eight months for personal training clients.

Has he any plans to open a base in West Cork?

‘You’d never know. We may have boot camps in the future but initially the plan is to settle us into the rhythm of life here. We’re still in the honeymoon phase – but life is good so far!’

KARL’S TOP TIPS

• HOW TO GET MOTIVATED

Find your ‘why.’ Get a pen and paper, spend some time figuring this out – why you want to make changes and get healthy. The ‘why’ needs to be stronger than all the excuses you’ll come up with and it needs to be stronger than all the bad days, challenges, the rain and wind that will come your way.

• HOW TO GET STARTED

Find movement you enjoy. Life’s too short to do something you don’t enjoy so find exercise that’s fun. If it’s not fun, forget it, because it’s never going to last in the long term. Walking, where you’re slightly out of breath and challenging the body, is the best exercise on the planet. There’s nothing it won’t improve. But it doesn’t matter what you do, once you’re doing something.  Every step you take is one step more than you’d take if you were sitting on the couch, that’s the easiest way to think about it.

• HOW TO KEEP GOING

Have patience. There’s an Instagram and societal perception of wanting to lose weight tomorrow, or wanting to lose a stone in three weeks. Nonsense! It doesn’t work like that. Real health takes time, and it takes hard work. The  goal is to be healthy for life so we’re not going to fix it in four weeks. Once people realise that it’s not a quick fix, that it’s a lifestyle approach, it’s almost like a switch, they can think about it differently.

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