655 days ago
Hygiene supervisor Darren Williams shed four stone in seven months to prepare for his successful ascent of Yorkshire's three peaks in July.
Darren, who works for Sodexo at the Coca-Cola European Partners Ltd site in Wakefield, underwent a massive lifestyle change to prepare for the 24-mile, 5,200ft challenge in aid of Alzheimers Research UK.
While he was motivated by his own father's battle with Alzheimers, Darren was initially spurred on by the no-nonsense encouragement of his friend and general services manager at Wakefield, Craig Dunderdale.
“He's a very skilled mountain climber and he challenged me to lose some weight so I could join him on the Three Peaks Challenge,” said Darren, who won the Cleaning Supervisor of the Year Award at Sodexo's Service Excellence Awards in May. “So from 1 January, I cut out all alcohol and went on a big lifestyle change regarding eating and exercise.
“The change was unbelievable but I enjoyed so much of it. I could go out every day of the week and walk five or six miles after work. It's great being out there and not sat on the settee watching the TV.”
Darren weighed himself daily to stay on-track with his weight loss goals, and supplemented his daily walking regime with light jogging and a healthier diet. Gone were the greasy takeaways, chips, and bread; all replaced with healthier alternatives inspired by a Slimming World book.
“I'll have a jacket potato and if I do have chips it's done the Slimming World way and I cook them in an oven,” he said. “I eat plenty of meat but I cut all the fat off and I eat a lot of salad that I never used to before.
“Six months ago, if I had a salad everything would be drowned in salad cream, but now I don't use it and I get more taste out of my food than I did before.”
In order to achieve the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, Darren, pictured right, had to scale the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in under 12 hours. Torrential rain helped spur Darren, Craig and friend Darren Pearson to maintain a fast pace, and resulted in the trio completing the challenge in ten hours and 46 minutes – quicker than most of the army cadets taking part on the same day.
“When you hear that it's such a buzz. I'm 49 and I wish I'd have done this twenty years ago,” Darren admits.
He strongly feels that his improved health and fitness has given him a new lease of life. “If somebody said to me in November last year, 'Do you want to go for a 10 mile walk?' I would have started laughing. But now I find myself walking at least 10 miles almost every weekend and seeing different places. I'm really enjoying it.”
“I'm just below seventeen stone and hoping to get to sixteen stone and that'll be my final target.”
Darren is currently on course to raise over £1,000 for Alzheimers Research.
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