How did it feel when you were told you were the biggest contestant ever?
“Someone has got to be the biggest, but I was the heaviest this year by quite some distance. There can’t be many people heavier than me in this country, which is pretty devastating.”
You haven’t always been big; tell us how you got to 32 stone?
“Ten years ago I was working really hard in the gym, I’d been on a diet, run the Great North Run twice and got down to 14st 10lb. But over the next four years I went up to 21st and then from that time to about 2008 I went up to 32st.”
Why was that?
“There wasn’t one massive event that caused me to put on weight. I had a business at the time and I just took my eye off the ball. I know that sounds ridiculous to put seven stone on, but that is literally what happened. I was desk-based, running my own plumbing business, working 12-hour days and eating the wrong stuff at the wrong time of day.”
Did you try to diet?
“I tried LighterLife and lost six stone and then put 12 back on! I’ve tried all the different diets – Slimming World and Weight Watchers and then all the crazy ones like the Atkins, cabbage soup, grapefruit – I’ve done them all!”
How did your partner Joanne react when you reached 32 stone?
“She got very upset. To be honest I’m amazed she has stuck by me. In the couple of years leading up to going on the show it was really causing a problem in the relationship – there was something between us – and it was my belly, basically! She just wanted me to be happy and healthy and live a long life.”
How did you find the first few workout sessions?
“I thought the first work out would be, ‘this is how this machine works, this is what this does, now go and have your breakfast.’ But no such luck!”
Does the training get easier as the weeks go by?
“It has become more enjoyable and I am able to do a lot more. I feel super fit, even after two weeks I felt so much better. Obviously I’m not Usain Bolt yet, but I feel so much healthier!”
How do you keep motivated?
“My main drive is Joanne and my mum and dad. I just want them to be proud and to not have to worry about me being overweight.”
Can you imagine what it would feel like to win?
“Wow. To be up there would be absolutely awesome because I think I am an underdog, with having so much to lose and being older and so unfit. To be up amongst the top people would be indescribable.”