Losing two stone (13kgs) while taking part on Operation Transformation has been life-changing for Stephanie Bowden, but the show has been equally important in helping her overcome serious panic attacks.

The mum-of-two was once so stressed about her breathing and heart rate she had to call an ambulance.

Stephanie (31), from Clondalkin, Dublin, saw her weight go up to 19st3lbs (122kgs) after giving up soccer training since she had the first of her two kids four years ago.

But thanks to taking part for the past seven weeks on the hit RTÉ show she has now dwindled in weight to 17st4lbs (110kgs) and was looking forward to the season finale on Wednesday.

She monitors her heart rate with a watch and has suffered panic attacks due to concerns for her health.

​ “They would come on at any time, you can’t predict them. Things like going on a family walk would trigger them. I desperately wanted to get back doing what I love doing, which is exercises, but I had this constraint which was the fear.

“On a particular occasion, I was panicking and I couldn’t get control of my breathing, and totally panicked. It went on for about an hour, and I called an ambulance because I actually thought I was about to get a heart attack.”

She now hopes to continue her path to greater fitness in both mind and body.

“My goal now is to crush the anxiety, especially during the 5km I’m doing this weekend,” she stresses. “My goal is to do 5ks, 10ks, and mini-marathons and my goal is to run them without stopping, that’s what I’m focusing on.”

She is delighted to have done the show and to have met a new set of friends with the other leaders.

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