Student wins year-long weight-loss contest to become Sunderland’s ‘biggest loser’

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Meet Sunderland’s Biggest Loser – Emma Dougherty has shed almost five stone to win a year-long weight loss contest.

Last May, Fitness 2000 gym in Roker launched the competition in a bid to help Sunderland shape up.

Fitness 2000's biggest looser Emma Dougherty receives her �1000 prize from owner Les Ojugbana and personnal trainer Faye Okunnu

Fitness 2000's biggest looser Emma Dougherty receives her �1000 prize from owner Les Ojugbana and personnal trainer Faye Okunnu

Ten finalists were given a year’s free gym membership and personal training to help kick-start a healthier lifestyle.

Emma, 22, from Grindon spent 12 months working with personal trainer Faye Okunnu, and has reaped the benefits of their hard work.

She has gone from 21st 12lbs to 17st 3lbs, dropped from a 24 to 16/18 and lost 52.8 inches across her body.

“It’s changed my whole life, not just in my approach to fitness, but my whole outlook on life,” she said.

It wasn’t about the money for me, I wanted to succeed 100 per cent, it was never an option to drop out.

Emma

The childhood studies student has won £1,000 from gym owner Les Ojugbana, another year’s free membership, a photo shoot with David Lawson Photography and a hair makeover with Jen Deighton Hairdressers, Fulwell, for the shoot.

Emma said: “I entered this to win, not to sound big-headed. It wasn’t about the money for me, I wanted to succeed 100 per cent, it was never an option to drop out.”

Prior to the contest, Emma was borderline diabetic, but her doctor has now given her a clean bill of health.

“Faye has also been key to this,” said Emma. “She has been there for me 24 hours a day and I could text her or ring her if ever I was struggling. I couldn’t have done this without her.

Fitness 2000's biggest looser Emma Dougherty receives her �1000 prize from owner Les Ojugbana and personnal trainer Faye Okunnu

Fitness 2000's biggest looser Emma Dougherty receives her �1000 prize from owner Les Ojugbana and personnal trainer Faye Okunnu

“I’d tried personal training before, but I just couldn’t afford it. Having the funding there has really helped. I’m addicted to the gym now. I’d really like to thank Les and Faye.”

Emma, who works as a nanny and teaching assistant, has also made changes to her diet to complement her exercise routine.

“I could only do a diet for a few weeks,” she said. “Instead, I’ve been doing things like clean eating and watching my measurements of protein and carbohydrates. I actually eat more now, but it’s the right stuff.”

Faye, who has herself lost five stone, said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Emma. Sometimes you get people who give up because they don’t like you pushing them, but Emma really wanted it.

“We gradually built her fitness levels up and then brought in interval training with the IBX Bodyrox workouts. Then we combined everything. We would switch it up each week so her body didn’t get used to it.”

Les set up the competition in response to ITV’s Weight Loss Ward, filmed in Sunderland Royal Hospital, and Wearside being ranked sixth from the top of the UK’s 150 most inactive places to live.

“Emma is a different person, not just in her appearance but in her personality, she’s so much more vibrant,” said the businessman. “She’s a perfect example that anybody can do it, anyone can find the time in their day to exercise if they want it badly enough. You don’t have to resort to surgery.

“Derek Carr from the contest has also been great, his fitness levels and breathing has really improved. It’s great to see the difference in them.”