As Easter approaches, many will be thinking of spending quality time with their family, which may involve enjoying rich food and chocolate eggs.
But for our Fit Factor finalists, the usual tempting treats that surround us at this time of year will be completely off limits as they continue in their bid to drop the pounds.
This week was the participants’ four-week weigh-in and the results so far have been outstanding. Collectively the group have lost more than 10st, which is a huge achievement in such a short space of time.
Our biggest “loser” so far is Port of Tyne worker Craig Barbour, from Newcastle Quayside, who has shed just under 2st.
The 27-year-old said: “I am feeling brilliant and I am enjoying doing the Fit Factor. I like going to the gym and doing the training. I never thought that I would be able to push myself as much as I am.
“I’m definitely seeing a difference in my clothes as I am having to tighten my belts and my shirts are a little looser than before.
“I thought I would lose quite a lot of weight but it has shocked me how much I’ve lost in four weeks. I will keep pushing harder and harder and I’m looking forward to every minute of it. We all get on well together in the Fit Factor team and everyone eggs each other on.
“I’m 100% motivated to keep going and when the programme finishes I am not going back to how I was before.”
Craig is originally from Liverpool and said he has not told his friends from his home city that he is losing weight. He is set to be an usher at a wedding next month and is looking forward to showing off his surprise svelte new look.
It is the men of the group who are currently topping the weight loss chart as Carl Martin, 32, has lost a total of 27lbs. Ashley Cuniff, 30, is not too far behind as he has lost 26lbs in just four weeks.
Ashley’s partner Claire Fleming has also dropped 9lbs as she too has been following the same strict “cavemen diet” as our Fit Factor team, which means no carbohydrate or processed foods.
The fire service engineer, of South Shields, said: “It’s going really well and I’m surprised how much weight I’ve lost. I don’t miss much of the food that I used to eat and my body is beginning to tone up.
“I look forward to training every week and I feel more motivated than ever. The diet we’ve been given to follow is good and I’m determined to lose as much weight as possible.
“Claire has also lost 9lbs by eating the same food and this makes it easier for me as it means I don’t have to cook two separate meals.
“Since I’ve started losing the weight I have so much more energy, which is brilliant.”
Yet it is not just the men who are doing well as the women have also lost a significant amount. In the last two weeks alone Lisa Embleton has dropped 11lbs, Gemma Robson has lost 8lbs and Carol Sijakovic 6lbs.
Carol, of North Shields, has her house covered in Easter eggs that she has bought for her nine grandchildren. However, she hasn’t been tempted to break her diet. The 51-year-old has lost almost a stone in a month and has dropped two dress sizes, going from a clothes size 20 to a 16.
She said: “The weight loss has given me such a boost of confidence and my fitness levels have increased, whereas before I couldn’t even run for a bus.
“I have good willpower and although I was missing bread and cheese at the beginning of Fit Factor, it doesn’t bother me now. The house is full of Easter eggs but I’ve not been tempted to have any.”
Bride-to-be Lisa Embleton, 35, of Kingston Park, Newcastle, is delighted with her total weight loss of 19lbs as she moves in the right direction to fit into her wedding dress, which she has deliberately bought a few sizes too small.
The NVQ assessor said: “I’m really happy with the amount of weight that I’ve lost as it’s more than I thought I would have dropped.
“The whole group has done really well and we are all so supportive and encouraging of each other. It is a good feeling to have lost the weight and when you start to see the difference it is very encouraging.”
Fit Factor trainer David Fairlamb is pleased with his team’s progress and can see significant changes in the participants’ body shapes and fitness levels.
He said: “A combined weight loss of 10st 3lbs in just four weeks is dramatic.
“I am so pleased their hard work and sheer focus has not only led to this weight loss but also boosted their confidence and self-esteem, giving them all a much happier outlook on life.
“I can’t wait to see the changes after 12 weeks. Their dedication deserves these results.
“This is not just about weight loss and physical strength, it’s also about day-to-day living and being happier. If you look good, you feel good.
“If you are overweight and feeling low, do something about it. The finalists have changed their lives after four weeks never mind 12, you can do the same.
It’s about making choices and staying committed.”
For three months the team are taking part in an intensive fitness and healthy-eating programme that will transform their lives.
It is the third year that The Journal has run Fit Factor, but this time there is a twist as we have two reserves who can replace any finalist not giving 100% dedication.
The Fit Factor winner will scoop the top prize of a weekend at luxury spa, Stobo Castle in the Scottish borders.