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Derby grandad’s three stone weight loss transformation

today28 August 2022 2

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A Derby grandad’s three stone weight loss and massively transformed lifestyle will stand him in good stead to run this year’s London Marathon at the age of 60. Dave Sullivan, from Alvaston, has “not felt this fit for around 30 years” and says running has been the key to him slimming down from more than 16 stone to less than 14 stone.

Four years ago, the road haulage trailer salesman set himself the goal of running a marathon at the age of 60. Having reached the milestone birthday in January, he and his newly-wed wife, Sharon, signed up to take on the 26.2-mile course through the streets of the capital on Sunday, October 2.

But it has not been a straightforward weight loss journey for the self-confessed ‘crisp-o-holic’. Dave, who is dad to Luke and step-dad to Gemma, said: “I knew I was overweight and had an unhealthy lifestyle, with bad eating habits.

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“I’ve always been relatively active, my significant weakness is crisps, I’m a self confessed crisp-o-holic. But when I’m fully focussed I can omit unhealthy foods, eat well and drink lots of water. It’s a relatively simple philosophy of putting less calories in to my body, and enhancing that by burning more calories with exercise.”

Sharon and Dave, who are also grandparents to Charlie, eight, Bella, six, Amelie, five, and Madison, who’s nearly one, started running around four years ago. The couple took on the Leicester 10k, with very little training, to raise around £1,700 for Cystic fibrosis, as Luke and Kylie’s daughter Amelie was born with the condition.



Dave Sullivan and his wife Sharon, pictured, will be running the London Marathon for Starlight Children's Foundation in October
Dave Sullivan and his wife Sharon will be running the London Marathon for Starlight Children’s Foundation in October

Dave, who now goes running four times per week, added: “A year later, we then joined a small local running group called the ‘Runner Beans’ and we ran around the perimeter of Elvaston Castle (circa 3km). We can still be seen running around the castle as it’s part of our current running/training schedule.

“We gradually increased distances and last year we completed two half marathons, Cheltenham and Derby, raising around £1,800 for Dementia UK. Now we’re following a beginner’s twenty week ‘how to run a marathon’ plan.

“Our longest run so far is 26km/16.2 miles. We are now just over five weeks away from the London Marathon and our training should see us build up to our longest training run of around 22 miles in three weeks time before.

“If I’d been told five years ago that I’d be doing this, I would never have believed it, I don’t consider myself a natural runner, far from it. I’m not quick, my Derby half marathon time was just under 2hrs 13mins and our target is to complete the London Marathon sub-five hours, but I will do this.”



Regularly running around Elvaston Castle has helped Dave Sullivan, pictured, slim down to less than 14 stone
Regularly running around Elvaston Castle has helped Dave Sullivan slim down to less than 14 stone

His weight had previously dropped below 13 stone, but he says he’s currently just under 14 stone having put some muscle weight on. Dave’s weight loss has not been a short-term change – he first started his journey 10 years ago when he enlisted the help of Jody Bunting.

The fitness guru, who was a regular on Channel 4 TV’s The Big Breakfast in the early 2000s, has been supporting Dave since 2012, when he won ‘Derby’s Biggest Loser’ after losing just over two stone during the competition.

Detailing how much of an impact Hatton-resident Jody has had on his weight loss journey, Dave said: “Jody educated, encouraged and motivated me to see better ways to eat well, without any fad/fashionable diet, eating good food, not necessarily less food.

“I have oscillated with my weight over recent years, but if I see the scales saying things I don’t want to see, I step back into the eating routines that I’ve learnt from Jody and return to good habits to bring things back in control.

“Whenever I’ve lost some weight I always feel so much better in myself, my heart rate lowers and I am far less tired/lethargic and have enthusiasm and energy to do more things. I have worked with Jody a few times and dropped 16lbs (more than one stone) in six weeks earlier this year and I’ve kept that off since.

“Running every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday is certainly helping me keep the weight off, although it’s likely that fat is being replaced with muscle at present, so I might not weigh much less, but I certainly feel that I’m slimmer and in better shape.”

Jody was also influential in helping Dave and Sharon get a place in the London Marathon after being rejected in the original ballot. The fitness guru, who runs free “Slim Brother” courses around Derby, explained: “I’ve never really been into running regularly but Dave actually inspired me to go along to ParkRun and I, with many of my other slimmers, attend weekly.



Alvaston grandad-of-four Dave Sullivan is pictured following his three stone weight loss with fitness guru Jody Bunting
Alvaston grandad-of-four Dave Sullivan is pictured following his three stone weight loss with fitness guru Jody Bunting

“Dave was looking for a new challenge when he got to his goal weight of 13 stone, and I suggested running the London Marathon as I had done it back in 2005 myself. He applied for the public ballot place, and sadly didn’t get in, so I contacted the charity I ran for, the Starlight Children’s Foundation, who grants wishes for seriously ill children, and they accepted him on the grounds he would commit to raising £2,500 for the cause.

“When registering at the prep event in London, his new wife Sharon went along to support him and ended up signing up herself to run, so they could train and run together. So their target is now £5,000 and they have raised £1,700 already.

“Dave has been offering to do odd-jobs for people in exchange for any sponsorship money for his charity. We still have five weeks left to go and I am hoping we can raise the money through various local events.”

The final word from Dave goes to her wife Sharon, who he says has been crucial to his weight loss, offering her constant support. He added: “Very supportive, we have both reduced weight and definitely increased our fitness levels. We both enjoy running and motivate each other, it would be so much harder training alone for such a huge challenge.”

Anyone who would like to sponsor Dave and Sharon for the London Marathon can do so via the Just Giving page here.

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