AFTER 12 weeks of gruelling workouts and lots of sweat and tears, our eight Fit Factor challengers have shed more than 30 stone between them. And today winner Daniel Henderson tells how the process has “given me a big chunk of my life back”.
Just 12 weeks ago the 37-year-old dad-of-two from Windy Nook, Gateshead, tipped the scales at almost 18 stone but, after ditching the takeaways for a healthy diet and exercising three to four times a week, he’s shed four stone to reach 13st 10lb.Related content
“It’s absolutely amazing. I’m over the moon,” said 6ft Daniel. “Twelve weeks ago I was just lounging around at 18 stone and now I’m back training.
“I never ever thought I would get back to that position, so to do it in 12 weeks is just incredible.
“I’ve got five-year-old twins and they can take the energy out of you, so being able to run around is great. I’ve always tried my best with them but having the extra energy is fantastic.”
Daniel’s prize is a two-week holiday to Dubai, courtesy of Emirates and Hilton, plus a six-month gym membership at the Livingwell Health and Leisure Club at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead.
“I’ve never been to Dubai,” he said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity. It’s somewhere I would have loved to go but I probably couldn’t have afforded it, to be honest.”
Daniel’s wife Julie, 37, a travel agent and dance teacher, says her husband has come full circle and is more like the man she first met at college 19 years ago.
“I’m thrilled for Daniel because I know how hard he’s worked,” she said. “When we used to go out he was embarrassed about the fact that he’d put weight on. But today he whipped his top off to change in the car park when three months ago he would have crouched down behind the door.”
Daniel’s fellow Fit Factor contestants were full of praise for Daniel. Steve Mountain, 32, from Redcar said: “I can’t think of anyone in this process who’s more worthy of winning. I’m so happy for him. He’s not only improved his own life but he’s improved everyone else’s in the way he’s helped us. He’ll hang back with people to help them or run to the end and come back to help you.”
Emma Roberts, 22, from South Shields said: “Dan deserves to win it. He worked really hard. He was my gym partner, so I’ve seen how much he put into it. He always helped me and I think he has done really well.”
Jacqui Fahey, 37, from West Denton added: “Dan is an ambassador for Fit Factor. Everything we were doing he gave 110%. He gave it his all every time. You could just see the athlete in him.”
In his youth Daniel was a real fitness fanatic, coming 72nd in the Great North Run when he was 19. However, he piled on the pounds after breaking his leg playing five-a-side football and couldn’t walk properly for 18 months.
“That’s when I let myself get out of shape,” he admits. “I stopped playing football and running. I’d always eaten a lot, but because I was doing so much exercise I used to burn it all off.”
Losing both his parents by the time he was 31 affected his state of mind too, and he would often grab chips and takeaways on the hoof due to his shifts as a police officer.
Now Daniel is much happier with his body shape and looking forward to being best man at his brother Keith’s wedding in two weeks’ time. He also wants to lose another half a stone. “When I’ve got no top on you can really start to see the definition coming through – but I want a six pack now,” he added. As well as looking so much better, Daniel has also transformed his health. At the start of Fit Factor his metabolic age was a shocking 52. Now it’s 28. He’s also significantly reduced his risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease as his visceral fat rating, which measures fat around the vital organs, has plummeted from a dangerous 15 to a low-risk 6.
Daniel will be doing the Great North 10K and Great North Run with the rest of the Active 8, and will carry on running with Saltwell Harriers, playing squash and working up a sweat at David Fairlamb’s beach bootcamps.
“It’s certainly not finished,” he said. “I’m going to get better than I am now. I’m completely focused. This has been the kick start that I need. What I would say to anyone at home wanting to do this is just do it.
“Everyone makes excuses saying, ‘I’m going to start on Monday’ but just do it there and then straightaway and in a week, or two weeks, you’ll see the difference. In 12 weeks, you’ll get fantastic results.”
Trainer and mentor David Fairlamb said: “I couldn’t have worked with a better eight people. To be honest, I could justify any one of them winning this, but what I’ve got to look at is how they have been through the process and what sort of ambassador for the Great North Fitness Revolution and the Fit Factor they are.
“For anyone sitting at home thinking they don’t know how to start, just follow these guys and your life can be turned round literally in 12 weeks.”