Holidays for Stephen and James Joell-Ireland used to be all about the food.
A relaxing break in the sunshine gave them the perfect excuse to indulge even more than normal.
But after appearing on Sky’s Fat Families at the end of last year, the couple say they have changed their ways – for good.
A holiday to Tunisia saw them exercising every day, whether it was swimming in the hotel pool, or doing weight work in the gym.
And next month Stephen plans to launch an iPhone app to help other people replicate their success. Called Ditch The Fat, it will include tips and advice on how to lose weight, personal insights from Stephen and James about their journey and guidance from the personal trainer who helped them on the show.
‘It’s been a battle but we know that we can do it and if we can inspire other people to do it too that will be great,’ says Stephen.
‘On holiday before it would have been eat, eat, eat but we were swimming, we were on the exercise bikes and even lifting weights.
‘We just want to tell other people that it’s achievable.’
The couple, from Portsea, are delighted they’ve kept up the good work since appearing on the show.
By the time the programme aired they had each lost three-and-a-half stones. In the first three months of this year they’ve gone on to lose even more – Stephen has now lost six stones 13 pounds and James has shed seven stones one pound.
This time last year, Stephen tipped the scales at almost 30 stones. He’s still got another four stones to lose before he will reach his goal of 15 stones and once that’s happened he’s planning to do a skydive.
‘Losing weight is so difficult,’ adds Stephen, who turns 27 tomorrow.
‘The first few weeks you are climbing a hill, it’s like you are battling Mount Everest, but you’ve got to have the right mind set.
‘We enjoy food but we know what’s right and what’s wrong now and we understand how to burn it off.’
When they applied to appear on Fat Families they were both fed up with being overweight but didn’t know how to turn their lives around. They were stuck in an unhealthy rut of eating massive portions of junk food and doing no exercise. With the help of presenter, Steve Miller, they’ve put a stop to their excessive eating. It’s fresh food, smaller portions and regular exercise all the way now.
‘We were worried in the lead-up to the show but when it aired we were amazed by how supportive people were,’ adds Stephen.
‘The following day we were out in town and people stopped us and said hello and well done. The response back from people has been enormous and we still get stopped in the street. It was a brilliant experience.’