A mum who started her fight for fitness to ensure her daughter learns to lead a healthy lifestyle has been hailed a winner.
Laura Daly, 34, applied to take part in the challenge after personal trainer Graham Low teamed up with the Echo to offer people the chance to sign up to his weight loss and exercise programme.
They were then invited to take part in as many of his boot camps as they liked and follow a diet plan for free.
Laura, who is mum to Scarlett, 21 months, and is married to teacher Paul, 34, was one of three who stuck with the plan, and was announced as Graham’s top student.
“I think everybody gets to that state where they want to lose a bit of weight and also a big element of it was having Scarlett. I wanted to be a role model for her and be healthy,” she said.
“The diet was the first thing and I tried really hard, but then Scarlett wasn’t very well, we didn’t get much sleep, and I just ended up having toast and chocolate, but then I got back on it.
I’ve got so much more energy, I feel a lot happier and the exercise makes me feel better.Laura Daly
“I loved the boot camps, they were so much fun and the girls were so nice.
“Graham is great, he pushes you to the limit and he really helped.”
Laura, a supervisor at The Lookout cafe in Seaham Marina, found the programme helped her lose inches while she toned up, with Graham picking her as the top performer because of the difference he could see in the before and after photos he took.
She added: “When I saw the before pictures of myself and then the new ones, I thought ‘woah’.
“I’ve got so much more energy, I feel a lot happier and the exercise makes me feel better. Now I want to stay fit and healthy and feeling better all the time.”
Laura, who now lives in Easington Colliery after growing up on Ford Estate in Sunderland, plans to keep her fitness drive going in the new year with Paul, who is a keen cyclist.
Graham, who runs East Coast Fitness from the business centre in Seaham Marina, said the decision was a close call between Laura and other entrants, Silke Harvey, 44, and Elena Barrios, 30, both from Seaham.
He said: “It was difficult to choose, but Laura’s transformation was clear from the pictures.
“They all put in a lot of effort and tried really hard, and they tried with the diet and did well.”
The food plan involved cutting out processed items, and replacing carbohydrates such as white bread, rice, potatoes and white pasta, biscuits and cakes with sweet potatoes, quinoa, and healthier fats from seeds, nuts and avocados.
Graham added: “For me, the challenge was all about finding people from different backgrounds and different levels and giving them the chance to get fitter.”
Graham, who also runs personal training sessions, runs the boot camps in the marina at 6am on Mondays and Fridays, 6.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a ladies’ plus-16 class from 6pm on Mondays.