It has only been weeks since our Fit Factor team started their weight loss journey and already they are reaping the rewards of their hard work.
At the first weigh-in since the competition got under way the finalists were told that they had collectively lost more than five stone - a fantastic achievement in only two weeks.
Craig Barbour, 27, who is the heaviest of the Fit Factor finalists, started the competition at 23st 7lbs, and has lost a staggering 17lbs.
The Port of Tyne assistant operations manager, of Newcastle Quayside, said: “My weight loss was a lot more than I expected and it absolutely made me realise hard work and eating right is key.
“It’s given me a lot of motivation. I just want to break the weight loss this week and every week.
“I have enjoyed every session and really enjoy the sledge-pulling with weights on.
“I feel massively fitter but the training sessions are still tough because I want to push myself harder every time. The diet is going really well. I am not craving anything, really. I have fancied a beer when I have been out, but I’ve been happy to drink water.”
Each week the group follow an intensive diet and fitness regime aimed at turning their lives around in just three months, giving them the help and assistance they need to maintain weight loss in the long term.
In the first few weeks every finalist has knuckled down and done their best to take on board the advice they have been given by Fit Factor trainer David Fairlamb.
Ashley Cuniff, 30, of South Shields, is keen to shed weight for his wedding later this year. His starting weight was 20st 10lbs, and so far he has lost 13lbs. His partner Claire Fleming has even lost weight as she too has been following a healthy diet.
The fire service engineer said: “The weight loss for the whole group is fantastic, and it has made me realise that a little bit of hard work and eating the correct food pays off massively.
“The weight I’ve lost in two weeks is way above my expectations.
“I’m more determined to reach my target weight now and the last two weeks have proved it’s possible.
“This week’s training sessions I found a little easier than last week’s sessions. I enjoyed the running with the sledge on my back, and I really like the watt bike. I don’t think other Fit Factor finalist Carl will be asking about chin-ups again, after David got us to try to do some.
“I’ve found the diet very good and easy to follow. My fiancée is also doing the diet with me and Claire lost 5lbs in her first week. The whole group are giving each other plenty of cooking tips too. I’m not getting food cravings at the moment but I’m drinking plenty of water and I’ve always got some fruit on hand.”
Losing a significant amount of weight is not an easy task, but our first Fit Factor couple Gemma Robson and Carl Martin, from Gateshead, have each other for support and encouragement.
The pair have vowed to slim down for the sake of their health and their children. Already Gemma has dropped 10.5lbs and Carl has lost 14lbs.
Mother-of-two Gemma, whose starting weight was 15st 10lbs, said: “I’m elated with my weight loss. I really tried hard. I stuck to the food and pushed myself during training.
“The results have made me more determined. I’m feeling more energetic, my skin is brighter and I’m sleeping better. I’m definitely in it for the long haul!
“I’m really enjoying the training. The sessions are pushing us, but we feel good after them.”
Surveyor Carl, 32, has admitted that in the past his downfall was eating takeaways but all that has changed with the introduction of a healthier diet containing lots of fruit and vegetables.
The 32-year-old, whose starting weight was 18st 11lbs, said he is already feeling the health benefits of his new lifestyle.
“My weight loss is more than I could have imagined at the start of the two weeks and I am extremely happy,” he explained.
“People are starting to notice the changes. My energy levels are feeling much higher. The methods of losing weight have been so simple and obvious, I can’t believe I have not managed to do this before. I am now really determined.
“I don’t think the training sessions are getting easier but, I feel I can push myself more each session. I really want to get the most from this experience so I will try to push myself as much as possible.
“I am having small cravings about eating anything I can’t have. I know this is only in my mind and there is no way I would act on them.”
Lisa Embleton has double the reason to slim down as she wants to lose weight for her wedding in September and also be the right weight to qualify for fertility treatment.
Having lost 8lbs in two weeks, the 35-year-old, of Kingston Park, Newcastle, is happy her weight is reducing, but she would liked to have lost even more.
The NVQ assessor said: “I am happy with the weight loss but feel it could have been more, yet understand about muscles development so I am not disheartened.
“I feel very determined and can’t wait to be at Newcastle Rugby Club in my wedding dress in September.
“I can do more each training session and feel the benefit of the exercise, but it is still hard.
“I am OK with the diet - I have been to the cinema and had grapes instead of chocolate and so far no food cravings.”
On Monday the Fit Factor team were put through their paces during a tough training session as they spent time doing cardio work on equipment such as rowing machines and exercise bikes. One exercise that many found difficult involved running or walking while pulling a sledge behind them.
Carol Sijakovic, 51, from North Shields, started Fit Factor weighing in at 16st 5lbs, and is now half a stone lighter.
The grandmother-of-nine said: “Pulling the sledge was a killer, it was really hard work. But my weight is moving in the right direction and I am happy with the amount that I’ve lost so far. I think I’m becoming a bit addictive to the exercise as I look forward to the training sessions and I won’t give up.”
The Journal editor Brian Aitken has this year joined the Fit Factor and will undergo the training sessions and follow the team’s ‘Caveman Diet’, eating plenty of meat, fruit and vegetables but no carbohydrates or processed food.
Brian’s starting weight was 15st 9lbs and the 53-year-old has lost 9lbs in just two weeks.
He said: “If I can do this then anyone can. David told us that 80% of our weight loss would be down to food. I’ve been amazed by the difference the Caveman Diet it makes. I feel better, stronger and more alert. And I don’t need the alarm clock to get me up in the mornings.
“I would encourage everyone to log on to the Fit Factor on our website and see how they can take some simple steps to a healthier lifestyle.”
Fit Factor trainer David Fairlamb said “When you stick consistently to a healthy clean diet and combine it with specific exercise it works.”