'WITHIN 4 WEEKS ALMOST ALL MY EXCESS WEIGHT CAME OFF. I WOULD SAY IT WAS A GOOD STONE AND A HALF.'
Ant McPartlin might seem self-assured in front of the cameras, but he admits, 'when I feel a little bit bigger, I don't feel very confident. And you are reminded of that insecurity on a weekly basis when you do a live television series'.
So before the first Pop Idol series hit the screens (and long before Gareth Gates and Will Young became household names), Ant and his best friend Dec signed up for the Bodydoctor Fitness Programme. 'I never really trained properly before,' he says. 'I went to the gym and was fairly active. I could run around a bit, but my strength wasn't great. I wanted to be fitter and feel better.'
Ant adds: 'I wanted to tone up, but I didn't want to get loads of muscles. I just wanted to be confident when my shirt came off!' For six weeks he stuck rigidly to the programme, adopting the nutrition plan as well. 'You find what food suits you,' he says. 'I used to get lethargic after carbohydrates, so I now eat much more protein. I just don't feel as stuffed and bloated afterwards.' The first real session was 'a massive uphill struggle and six weeks seemed a lifetime ahead' but within four weeks 'almost all my excess weight came off. I would say it was a good stone and a half. I was getting into old jeans and I had to buy myself new shirts. The size went down from a large to a medium.' There was another unexpected benefit. 'I used to have a bad back, and I found the ab-flow really hurt my lower back at first. So we wouldn't do a lot, but then we added a little bit more,' says Ant. 'It turned out that I had no real stomach strength and my back was being forced to compensate. Now my stomach is stronger and I have no back troubles. I didn't think that I would get anything like that out of the programme.'
Ant, who describes his lifestyle as 'hectic,' says he has learned to incorporate the fitness programme into his schedule. 'I am much more aware of my fitness levels,' he says. 'You go to the gym and you feel better, but when you stop going you start feeling run down.You hear of all those ridiculous diets, like only eat green food for six days, but, at the end of the day, you have got to exercise. It is the easiest and simplest way to lose weight and get fit.'
'PEOPLE TOLD ME I HAD LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT, AND MY EYES WERE MORE SPARKLY. I JUST LOOKED FRESH. I WAS SLEEPING BETTER.'
Dec Donnelly was delighted by the reaction of his tailor when he went along for a suit fitting. 'I had lost 3 inches off my waist. My tailor said, "My God, what has happened?" I told him that I'd been to the Bodydoctor. I was getting into jeans I hadn't worn for years.'
Dec's waist was not the only visible difference. 'People told me I had lost a lot of weight, and my eyes were more sparkly. I just looked fresh. I was sleeping better,' he says. Even the football team he played with every weekend noticed a change. 'I used to be exhausted during the last 10 to 15 minutes, but now I could have kept going for another half an hour,' Dec explains. 'I was getting forward much more, and getting into the box.'
Like so many people, Dec used to promise himself every New Year that he would get fit. 'Every January I would go in and run for half an hour on a treadmill because that seemed a popular thing to do, then I'd lift some weights and do a few sit ups. The Bodydoctor Fitness Programme actually taught me how to exercise.' He adds: 'I think David thought we were a bit soft. I was not hugely obese, but I was squidgy and a bit soft. I knew that I wanted toned muscles, because I had heard that phrase on the telly. With the Bodydoctor, I actually burned fat and toned muscle. I don't know how I did it, but it certainly happened.' Dec is such a fan that he has encouraged both brothers and his girlfriend to have a go.
Dec stuck rigidly to the nutrition plan for the first six weeks 'although I still partook of alcohol,' but he has since adapted it. 'I don't drink as much beer as I used to. I drink more wine, and I kind of stay off bread,' he explains. 'You have to be able to have a life as well. But this programme has taught me how to exercise. It is the best thing, fitness-wise, that I have ever done.'