About Jody Bunting
I am a gay father-of-one, who was born on 27th January 1978 in Burton-upon-Trent, East Staffordshire, and grew up in the village of Hatton, South Derbyshire. I have a naturally happy and positive attitude which gravitated me to work in the wellbeing industry. I am a award winning registered exercise professional and was inspired to study holistic health and nutrition with the CHEK Institute (USA) in 2008, after a life changing visit to the poor North African villages of Upper Egypt, where I found the people there to be happy and healthy.
2006: My Egyptian friend Hamid and me by the river Nile in Nagada, Luxor.
I've always loved food from as long as I can remember. I used to call into my grannies house on the way to school and tell her I hadn't had anything to eat so she gave me a second breakfast. At school I was always waiting for second helpings of the dinners and all the dinner ladies loved my little chubby cheeks, so they used to give me third helpings too. I used to rush home from school as my parents both used to work at the local chocolate factory Nestle, so there was always lots of chocolate and sweets stuffed in the kitchen cupboards at home, and I would gorge on it whenever no one was looking. I remember having so many sugar coated Smarties chocolates in my mouth that the colouring would seep out the sides of my mouth. My weight started to grow with my age, when I was 5 years-year-old, I weighed 5-stone, when I was 10, I weighed 10-stone.
1981: Me, my mum Aline & Sister Tara.
My mum was always worried about my weight, she asked the school to grill my food instead of frying it, but it didn't help as I was still eating too much behind her back. In 1991 my mum took me along to the Sure-Weigh slimming club with Vanessa in Etwall, Derbyshire, when I was 13-years-old, weighing 19-stone. I wasn't interested in changing for a few years, then in my last year of school - 1993 - I was sick of being teased for being fat and I decided I had to take action before entering the big wide world.
I lost 8-stone in a year in (thanks to being motivated by TV's Gladiators). One thing that really helped me was the slimming club recommending exercise sessions. I attended my first fitness class (Step Aerobics) and I loved the music and fitness fun so much, I knew from that moment I wanted to teach fitness classes myself.
1994: My weight loss featured in my local newspaper, the Derby Evening Telegraph. "Whirlwind" was my made up Gladiators name.
The following photo is of my family when I was 16-years old, taken for Take-a-Break magazine when my weight loss featured in it.
1994: My sister, Mum, me and Dad Ron
I started teaching fitness classes unqualified in 1994, I was aged 16-years-old. I led sessions for my large family in the local school hall. I began official training as an instructor on my 18th Birthday and soon qualified to become the UK's youngest class leader. We had a fun group and regularly held charity specials open to the local community.
1996: L-R back, My mum, auntie Angela, auntie Kath, cousin Jayne, auntie Janet. L-R front, auntie Yvonne, family friend Julie, auntie Pauline, me and cousin Sharron.
Also at this time I started studying at the High Peak Catering College in Buxton to learn how to be a chef (the careers advisor at school suggested this for all the fat kids I think).
I was no longer teased for being fat, now for being a bit gay. It didn't really bother me as I was so happy just being slim.
Becoming a chef was a recipe for disaster for a food lover like me. I was still teaching one fitness class a week, but as I learned how to make the most delicious cakes and pastries, plus went on to get a sedentary job in a National Rail Enquires call centre, I piled on the pounds and weighed 31-stone in 1999 when I was 21-years-old.
A typical day of eating...
Breakfast - None.
Lunch - 2 Breaded chicken portions, plate full of curly fries and a tin of baked beans. Half of a whole chocolate gateaux. 2-Pints of orange juice and lemonade.
Snacks - Crisps, sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks from the vending machine at work.
Dinner - 4 Meaty sandwiches or a large Kabab, and a few hot chocolates.
Midnight snacks - McDonalds on the way home from work - A Big Mac, 2 Cheeseburgers, 20 Chicken Nuggets, an Apple Pie and a McFlurry Ice Cream.
2000: In goal whilst on holiday in Wales.
I was officially "morbidly obese" but my larger-than-life personality kept me positive and I continued to teach my fitness classes. The fact I was so big and taught fitness, gained me much notoriety and I starred on ITV's daytime talk show "Trisha" - with my then girlfriend Raelene, who I had met at college - in an episode called "Is fat sexy?."
2000: Mirror Newspaper.
One of my favourite press pieces of all time was revealing my body (tastefully I believe!) for the gay magazine Attitude. They were running a campaign on body image and I was "the fat bi-sexual one" and the piece really inspired many readers to be more confident (as the fan letters I received said anyway).
1999: Attitude Magazine.
My girlfriend accidentally became pregnant in 1999 and I was totally freaked out as I didn't think I was ready to be a father. My family brought me round to the idea, however we then sadly lost the baby boy. We were both so upset and we started trying again as soon as possible as we so wanted to be parents.
In summer 2000 my daughter Phoebe was born and it was the greatest moment of my life.
September 2000: My daughter and me
Almost a year after the birth the pressures of a new baby became too much, we were working opposite shifts at the same call centre and sadly my then fiancé and I separated.
My new daughter did gave me inspiration to want to live a long, happy and more active life, plus the split had given me the motivation I needed to take action.
At this time I was also under financial pressure after over spending when I was a student, plus constantly wasting most of my full time wage on food. I went bankrupt and started a fresh with a much more simple life.
I moved in with a friend, ate 1,200 calories of food per day and attended several exercise classes per day, plus swam, cycled and walked as much as possible.
A typical day of eating... (NB. I no longer advise this diet for weight loss!)
Breakfast - 2 Poached eggs on 2 wholemeal dry toast, with ketchup, or 2-Weetabix with skimmed milk and artificial sweetener
Lunch - Pasta with a tomato sauce
Dinner - Jacket potato with tuna and low-fat mayo
Snacks - Diet coke, sugar free jelly and an apple
I also started teaching some new fitness classes in 2001 for the local council in Derby, they were exclusively for overweight people. They became hugely popular and this gave me another reason to start being a role model for others.
2001: Derby Evening Telegraph announced the new classes
The vast press coverage of these classes landed me a job on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, teaching my very own weekly diet and fitness slot "Lose it with Jody."
2001: Daily Record Newspaper
Getting up at 4am to go into hair and makeup wasn't much fun, but once with my dance team (who were all tiny to make me look bigger I think!) we were bringing so much energy to the show. The weekly slots soon increased and I ended up being on the show almost every day doing everything from dancing for pop group Atomic Kitten whilst dressed as cat, to taste testing 100 Chocolate Eggs at Easter, dressed as a bunny.
2001: Channel 4's The Big Breakfast with my dance team
I got to work with many celebrities during this time and it was so much fun. The main presenters of the show were Richard Bacon and Amanda Byram, plus we had many guest presenters, including Vanessa Feltz, Chris Moyles and many more.
The highlight for me had to be starring as the "fitness fairy" in 3 TV Christmas Pantomimes along side pop groups Westlife, Steps and 5ive.
2001: The Channel 4 Christmas Panto
After this wonderful year on TV - filmed live in London - I went on to join Derby's breakfast crew at RAM FM radio station for several years from 2002. I also became the face of Fitness First Health Club's new national weight loss clubs and went on a full UK tour in 2003.
2002: Broadcasting live outside Sainsbury's Derby
I ran the London Marathon in 2004 in aid of the Starlight Children's Foundation and regularly "warmed up" charity events, such as Cancer Research UK's Race for Life around the area.
2004: Burton Mail
My biggest ever fitness sessions were warming up 5,000 students at a junior Olympics event in Burton, and relaxing 50,000 at a Donnington Park music festival before Gareth Gates from Pop Idol came on stage.
Above top: 2004: Shobnall Sports Centre, Burton
Above below: 2001 vs. 2004 - 19 stone loss
3-years after restarting my diet and exercise mission, I got to my goal weight of 12-stone in 2004. Business wise at this stage I had lost my USP (unique selling point), the fact I was a big fitness instructor, but I didn't mind as I was enjoying just being "normal." I went on to teach fitness full time in health clubs (everything from BodyPump to pole dancing!) and I won the IFS UK Group Exercise Manager of the year 2005 thanks to my work with the local community.
2005: Burton Mail Newspaper
After my 19-stone weight loss I was left with a considerable amount of loose skin. In 2004 I was extremely lucky to have on the NHS a tummy and butt tuck. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life, however having the 9 lbs of skin removed - in the 8 hour operation - was well worth it, I had a "flat tummy" for the first time in my life.
2005: Post tummy tock
Reflecting now on the surgery, it's not realistic to have my body "perfect" so I wouldn't have any cosmetic surgery again, as where do I stop? There is always things I would not be happy with. The real stage of happiness for me is when I accepted myself as I am (plus all procedures have side effects, mine is now having a builders bottom half way up my back!).
2005: new! Magazine
I have been fortunate enough to work for some of the UK's biggest names in wellness; Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Clubs, Nuffield Health, Sport England, the National Obesity Forum and the NHS, plus the global leader of wellness, WW (Weight Watchers).
2005: Me and Rosemary Conley in Bretby
In 2006 I wanted a new challenge and I found a job teaching fitness in Egypt. I instantly fell in love with the country and stayed there on and off for 10 years. My roles moved on to Entertainments Manager, then Customer Services and Marketing Management, and I got to work in some of the most luxurious resorts on the Red Sea.
2006: Teaching water aerobics at InterContinental Soma Bay, Hurghada
The people of Egypt were so friendly and taught me so many lessons in life (plus taught me some Arabic language).
The biggest lesson I think I learnt was to do with generosity and being less materialistic. I was humbled when I witnessed so many Egyptians give their time, anything they had and literally their last penny if they had a friend or family member in need. The belief in the greater good was remarkable.
Also "tipping" for service made sense to me for the first time, the high level of genuine service received made you want to thank them personally with a gratuity. I returned to the UK much more appreciative of the privileged life we have here and not to take it for granted.
I still found it hard to maintain my weight, and this is why I started to study holistic health and look for long term lifestyle solutions, rather than just diets. I had witnessed in Egypt communities with no obesity, no cancer or any other ill health, and it seemed to be all down to their natural eating patterns (mainly home grown/reared and some locally produced foods), regular movement and a content mindset.
The relationship with my daughter at home became difficult and I took my ex to court in 2008 to try and get regular contact. Although I "won" the case, the process was very unpleasant for my daughter and it ended up driving Phoebe further away. From this experience I learned another vital life lesson, that nothing can be forced and everything has to naturally fall into place. I discovered the "Law of Attraction" and I knew in the future we would be close again.
2008: Burton Mail
In 2008 me and a friend combined our love for reality TV shows like "The X Factor" with losing weight and launched free community weight loss courses, sponsored by various health clubs.
2008: With Natasha Gant running The Fat Factor
"The Fat Factor" helped several hundred people across the country and featured on BBC 1's The One Show. We then decided to get rid of the word "fat" and called it "Health Idol."
2008: The Surrey Review Newspaper
I then relaunched it locally in 2009 "Derby's Biggest Loser" and the series featured on BBC Radio Derby. This then evolved into my business from 2010 "Slim Brother" which has gone on to support hundreds of slimmers in Derby, Burton and online.
2009: With 2 of my slimmers, Bev and Tracy
In 2009 I abseiled down the Derby Cathedral with 3 of my brave slimmers, in aid of the Derby Mountain Rescue Team. It was terrifying, and that was just climbing the 189 steps to the top!
2009: Abseiling down Derby Cathedral
In my search for an authentic holistic life, I explored different religions and in 2009 I attend the Church's Alpha Course and went on to be "confirmed" as a Church-of-England Christian and baptised in 2010 as a Coptic Christian in Egypt. I am far from being a "perfect Christian" (and am not sure I want to be one) but I do now live a more meaningful and sincere lifestyle. For a number of years I changed my name to a more Christian name, Spendlove, which is my mothers family name, however my family didn't use it so I no longer use it publicly.
2009: Getting Confirmed at Derby Cathedral with the Bishop
My relationship with my dad Ron has never been smooth. He did so much for me as I grew up and taught me so many practical things I am now thankful for. We just didn't have much in common when I became an adult and he's the first one to admit this. I had counselling to try and help me overcome this issue, however the conclusion was to occasionally keep in touch with him and move on with my own life.
The relationship with my only sibling Tara also became distant after my sister married my friend from Egypt. We were always so connected before, so I know some time in the future this will continue.
I've always been very close to my mum Aline and still to this day she is a big part of my life. She is the most supportive, accepting and generous person I know.
In 2010 I moved back to Egypt, this time to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, I was teaching fitness again but was soon promoted to work in a hotel management team, an office based position.
By 2014 most of my bad eating habits had crept back in and as I was content in a relationship, I would always be eating or drinking out at restaurants or bars.
A typical day of eating in the all-inclusive hotel I was living in...
Breakfast - 3 fried eggs on 2 white toast with butter and ketchup, yogurt and honey, and sometimes a few hot croissants too
Lunch - Fish and chips, or pizza, followed by a few cakes
Snacks - Freshly made sugared doughnuts and Nutella pancakes
Dinner - Egyptian Street Food "Koshary" (rice, pasta, chickpeas, lentils and onions with a tomato sauce) followed by a traditional Egyptian Bread Pudding dessert called "Om Ali"
Snacks - Chocolate, sweets and crisps, plus cakes from the hotel kitchen's 24-hour bakery
Drinks - 2-litres of full sugar fizzy drinks, 8 lattee coffees and a few cocktails or beers
2015: On a Red Sea boat trip at 26-stone
Whilst working in Sharm I presented the stage and online show "Sharm's Got Talent" by the Savoy Hotels Group for 9 series. It was one of the most enjoyable projects I've ever worked on.
2014: Filming Sharm's Got Talent in Soho Square
Also in Sharm I created an alter-ego character "Pink Gaga" for a charity fitness event and "she" became hugely popular, going on to host events for International brand nightclubs Pacha and Hard Rock Cafe, plus making the papers back here in the UK.
2015: Burton Mail
2015 saw the downturn in tourism to the Middle East, so I focused on my work in the UK and also improving my health as I was diagnosed with Diabetes type 2 after suffering with some skin issues. Diabetes does run in my family, however I don't blame my genes, I think it's more to do with the fact I adore cakes just like my mum and grannie. I was determined to reverse the disease by improving my health.
During 2015 I took a trip to Agadir in Morocco and discovered - similarly to Egypt - the original "Amazig" people were healthy due to their simple diets, here Couscous and Tagine.
2016: Nassim & Shadia featured in my taste testing video
In 2016 I was invited to the Prince's Trust anniversary garden party at Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles said to me on seeing my white suit "what an extraordinary suit."
2016: Burton Mail
In 2017 I restarted teaching fitness full time and this really benefited my health, I started to lose weight quickly by calorie counting. I then went on to work for Weight Watchers running their slimming clubs.
My sexuality has always puzzled me. As a teenager I thought I was gay, then I must have been "bi" as went on to fall in love with a girl. I have had some really amazing boyfriends, each time I fall in love it seems to be deeper and stronger than the last, so I am really looking forward to the next!
In 2018 I publicly supported Derby Pride after the on and off relationship with my daughter thankfully stabilised (you see prayers do get answered!).
2018: Derby Telegraph
In 2019 I suffered from the short term mental health illness DDD (Depersonalisation-Derealisation Disorder) which was brought on by drinking artificially flavoured wine (Cherry Lambrini). Another great reminder for me how sensitive our bodies are to non-natural food and drink ingredients. I left Weight Watchers and made a vow to myself to again focus on health and more natural weight loss methods.
In 2020 I became the Ambassador for my local area (Burton-upon-Trent) for the Public Health Collaboration charity promoting low-carb lifestyle, until 2022.
2021 saw me land my dream job as an Aldi Supermarket Food Taster. I got to try the Chocolate Easter Egg range and review them in online videos for the store's UK social media channels.
2021: Derby Telegraph
I currently live in my home county of Derbyshire and do my favourite jobs of all, coaching weight loss clients online, plus teach fitness classes at local gyms and in the community. Water aerobics is my favourite class to teach and I love having fun themes in my fitness classes with special music and costumes.
2019: JD Gym Derby - in a Pride special class
I still struggle with my own weight, and its only the regular activity that keep me motivated to making healthy food choices. My personally preferred eating plan - since summer 2018 - includes reducing gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, soy and processed foods. The benefits for me have included reducing tummy bloating, feeling more active and of course reducing body fat.
An example of my current day:
Breakfast: Porridge and rhubarb
Lunch: Mushroom omelette and watercress
Dinner: Salmon and broccoli
Snacks: Salted popcorn, apples and nuts
Drinks: 2-Litres of water
Activity: 10,000 Steps
Sleep: From 10pm
Recently I tried the Keto high-fat diet and Michael Mosley The 800 Fast, I found they gave great results for me and my clients, again more proof a low-carb "clean" diet is the future of optimal health for most.
The goal weight I am heading for is 13 st and 2 lbs, and I will get there again soon!
My current weight (and total loss) via myfitnesspal.com
One fun thing I love to create to achieve my goals is a vision "dream" board. From cars to relationships, so many things on my board have come true (ask Alexa "who is Jody Bunting"). You can view my current Vision Board on > Pinterest.
I love social media and my > YouTube Channels have over 4 million views, including a 1-million views video of me having a colonic irrigation live on Channel 4's "The Salon" TV show.
Daily I enjoy presenting videos on > Facebook Live sharing weight loss tips and new workouts.
From 2022 I launched my own weekly Podcast...
2019: Leading a Weight Watchers meeting in Mickleover, Derby.
My goals for the future are, to marry the love of my life (position still vacant!) and open my own holistic hotel for slimmers.
2020: Leading an online workout!
My top tips for fat loss...
Drink water... Increase your plain water intake to 2-litres or more per day, to help you feel satisfied and improve overall wellbeing.
Focus on nutrients... Eat some local protein, a little healthy fat and fresh seasonal fruit, salad or vegetables with every meal.
Sleep by 10pm... As it helps your food and activity choices for the following day.
Get outdoors... If possible and when you feel ready, go outdoors for a daily 20-minute walk, cycle or swim. Strength training can also be added to increase your metabolism.
Enjoy the journey... 80/20, 80% of the time eat nutritious foods, but also enjoy a weekly "treat day" or a few meals throughout the week of whatever you fancy!
If you are struggling to lose weight then I would love to help you with my online Holistic Lifestyle Coaching, > click here for details at slimbrother.co.uk
IG, SC, TT @JodyBunting
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