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WE have reached the halfway point of our Fit Factor competition and our finalists are as determined as ever to reach their target weight.

For the last six weeks, the lifechanging competition has seen the team engrossed in an intensive fitness and healthy eating programme. On Monday, trainer David Fairlamb carried out the latest weigh-in and collectively the team has lost a total of 13st 5lbs - the weight of Fit Factor trainer David.

Each challenger has shed between half a stone and a stone in the last two weeks, with all of them having dropped a number of clothes sizes since the competition began in March.

David said: "With the obesity timebomb which is sweeping the country we are once again proving that lives can be totally turned around in a matter of weeks.

"Anyone can sit and eat, that's easy. There is a multi-billion pound diet industry and in reality it's about consistency with exercise and food. Most people are just lazy and expect things pp y , they are the ones that look for excus and fail.

"I'm so excited about this grou they are 100% focused and dedicat and that's why they are getting resu These results would have been exce tional after 12 weeks, never mind six At the first weigh-in, the sca measured the finalists' metabolic a which is calculated by the amount body fat, lean weight and water leve Every participant had a reading sign icantly higher than their chronologi age.

The Journal editor Brian Aitke From Page 23 metabolic age was 68 when he first started Fit Factor. In just six weeks that has dropped to 50, which is three years below his actual age.

Brian, of Prudhoe, Northumberland, said: "I am doing the Fit Factor for my own self-interest and to help raise awareness about obesity and fitness levels in the North East.

"I feel very privileged to work alongside six people who are showing amazing dedication and commitment, exceeding expectations." Yet again our biggest "loser" on the scales this week was Craig Barbour, despite the 27-year-old having a dif-ficult few days before the weigh-in as he went offtrack.

Craig, who lives at Newcastle Quayside, has shed another 13lbs in a fortnight, taking his total weight loss to nearly three stone.

The Port of Tyne assistant operations manager said: "I'm happy with my weigh-in this week. I had a slight wobble and I wasn't sure that I would have lost as much weight this time.

"I'm back on track and it's made me 100% stronger and I am once again re-focused."

Fellow Fit Factor contestant Carl Martin, 32, a surveyor of Gateshead, looks significantly different since dropping a total of 34lbs.

At the latest weigh-in he was told that he had lost a further 7lbs.

He said: "I'm really pleased with the amount of weight that I've lost in total. I'm really enjoying the Fit Factor and I wish that it was a bit longer." Carl's partner Gemma Robson, 30, a civil servant, has also lost a further 7lbs and the couple are keen not to let their motivation slip at any point.

The mother-of-two said: "Many people at work are noticing my weight loss and my family and friends have been really supportive. Carl and I are making plans for what we will do once the competition has finished to keep our weight loss going."

Grandmother-of-nine Carol Sijakovic, of North Shields, started our Fit Factor competition weighing in at 16st 5lbs, but she now is almost 2st lighter.

For the last couple of training sessions the 51-year-old has battled with painful shin splints in her left leg, but she has continued to do her best during all the exercise sessions.

Carol said: "The only thing I've been kept offis the treadmill, but I've been going hell for leather with the other exercise equipment.

"When I started Fit Factor I really was at my lowest and I needed to lose weight. Taking part in Fit Factor has been great and I have gone from a clothes size 20 to a 16. My confidence is now sky high and the whole thing has been quite life-changing."

Bride-to-be Lisa Embleton, of Kingston Park, Newcastle, has seen a huge change in her fitness levels since losing weight.

"It is amazing how much better I feel," explained the 35-year-old.

WEIGHT LOSS STATISTICS Craig Barbour Starting weight: 23st 7lbs Two-week weight loss: 17lbs Four-week weight loss: 10.5lbs Six-week weight loss: 13lbs Total weight loss: 40.5lbs Gemma Robson Starting weight: 15st 10lbs Two-week weight loss: 10.5lbs Four-week weight loss: 8lbs Six-week weight loss: 7.2lbs Total weight loss: 25.7lbs Carl Martin Starting weight: 18st 11lbs Two-week weight loss: 14lbs Four-week weight loss: 13lbs Six-week weight loss: 7.3 Total weight loss: 34.3lbs Lisa Embleton Starting weight: 20st 11lbs Two-week weight loss: 8lbs Four-week weight loss: 11lbs Six-week weight loss: 7lbs Total weight loss: 26lbs Ashley CuniffStarting weight: 20st 10lbs Two-week weight loss: 13lbs Four-week weight loss: 13lbs Six-week weight loss: 10lbs Total weight loss: 36lbs Carol Sijakovic Starting weight: 16st 5lbs Two-week weight loss: 7lbs Four-week weight loss: 6lbs Six-week weight loss: 7lbs Total weight loss: 20lbs Brian Aitken Starting weight: 15st 9lbs Two-week weight loss: 9lbs Four-week weight loss: 7lbs Six-week weight loss: 5lbs Total weight loss: 21lbs COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG DAY DEVOTED couple Ashley Cuniffand Claire Fleming are set to get married later this year.

The pair have been together nine years and over that time their weight has gradually increased as they became comfortable with one another.

Fire service engineer Ashley, 30, of South Shields, is one of our Fit Factor finalists and fiancee Claire has been with him every step of the way throughout the competition.

Claire has been following his progress so closely that she too has lost a significant amount of weight as the 29-year-old has followed the same 'Caveman Diet', which includes eating plenty of meat and cutting out carbohydrate. To date the installations manager has lost a staggering 16lbs in just six weeks, dropping from a dress size 18 to a 14-16, as she has keenly supported her other half.

Claire said: "After I met Ash I ended up getting comfortable and because I was working 12-hour days I got into bad eating habits. Ash is very family orientated and we'd get together with his family for things like Sunday dinner, which included a mountain of dessert. We would eat out a lot too.

"When I was heavier I felt it affected my confidence, I've always been a bubbly person but I did not feel as confident."

Ashley was keen to take part in Fit Factor and he has been delighted to share his experience with Claire. "I was so proud of Ash making it to Fit Factor as it was something for him to really focus on," explained Claire. "Ash does all the cooking and I was happy to give the change of diet ago. I wanted to support Ash as he has always been there for me when I've done Slimming World."

In just six weeks Ashley has lost more than two stone and he is already reaping the benefits of being fitter and healthier.

He said: "Claire has been doing fantastically well and I am very proud of what she's done. It has been great having Claire's support and as cooking is a hobby of mine I enjoy making the food for us."

The couple are looking forward to their nuptials and are going to Mexico for their honeymoon. Claire said: "It's not been as difficult as I thought it would be to cut out certain foods. It is nice to think that I've lost weight for our wedding. Ash always said we don't want to look back at our wedding photos and be upset. Although, in the long run the weight loss is about being healthy."



Carol <BSijakovic, at the David Fairlamb Gym

Ash and Claire

From left, Lisa Embleton, Gemma <BRobson and Carl Martin, at the David Fairlamb Gym, in North Shields

Ash Cuniff<Band his fiancee Claire Fleming
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 1, 2014
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