Sign up, stick with it and you can really change your life...

As hospice event organisers begin to recruit fundraising fat-fighters for their annual Biggest Loser challenge, they couldn’t find a bigger fan than Maxine Smith.

But she’s certainly not as big as she used to be, having slimmed down from a size 22 to a size 14 after enthusiastically adopting a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Personal trainer Jack Babington and Biggest Loser success story Maxine Smith.

Personal trainer Jack Babington and Biggest Loser success story Maxine Smith.

“I’d tried every diet going with zero success but since I took part in the Biggest Loser challenge my weight and life has been utterly transformed,” says Maxine, from Hemel Hempstead.

“I knew that because the challenge was for charity I’d definitely stick to it, so it really motivated me to sign up!”

As the Northchurch-based Hospice Of St Francis launches its search to find 20 supporters to take part in the 2014 event, which starts at the beginning of January, Maxine reflected on her own experience.

“I was absolutely terrified to start with and didn’t know what to expect but, as soon as I met my Sportspace personal trainer, I knew we’d get along fine and he’d help me achieve my weight loss goal,” she said.

“He was so brilliant at motivating me and I’m now hooked, continuing to see him once a week as well as doing the occasional run and attending various exercise classes at Sportspace, including pilates.

“The nutritional plan from Alyson Carter at Nutrition 4 Life has also been excellent. I’ve followed her plan to the letter and it’s made such a difference to my approach to eating – and my weight!”

“During the challenge I lost 14 per cent of my body weight but now, six months after I started the programme, I’ve lost close to four stone and my shape has changed dramatically.

“I’ve gone from a size 22 to 14 and, with my new look figure and fitter lifestyle

“I’ve attempted all sorts of new challenges.

“I’ve recently taken up horse riding again which I’ve not done since I was a child, and with my renewed confidence I have started a university degree in social work.

“I’m also considering signing up for the Hospice’s Strictly Learn Dancing next January as long as I can find a willing dance partner!

“The challenge was brilliant for meeting like-minded people and quite a few of us still gather at Sportspace every Wednesday for a weekly weigh in.”

Trainer Jack Babington, 23, said: “I started Maxine off with a very gentle gym routine in one of Sportspace’s quieter gyms to get her used to the equipment but she soon became more confident and it was a joy to see her fitness levels increasing.

“Being involved in the Biggest Loser was so rewarding and I really enjoyed being able to make such a visible and positive difference to someone’s life.

“It really is a fantastic way to get started in terms of getting fit and losing weight and I’d urge others to sign up now!”

The 2014 challenge will kick off on January 8 and last for 12 weeks.

Those who sign up will benefit from free Sportspace membership – including free access to the gym, pool and classes plus 12 free personal training sessions, group training and weekly weigh-ins, worth more than £700 – as well as a personalised nutritional programme.

All participants are asked to raise £500 in sponsorship for the Hospice of St Francis.

Anyone interested in taking part should visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/biggestloser, call 01442 869550 or email fundraising@stfrancis.org.uk. Entries must be received by December 12.