PORTLY pub landlord David Ripo lost two stone and embarked on a healthy new lifestyle – as the only way to survive a TV challenge in searing heat and alligator and snake-infested waters.

Viewers will see later this month how the 56-year-old licensee fared in the Texas Water Safari challenge section of Channel 5’s Go Hard or Go Home show.

Mr Ripo joined two other unhealthy Essex landlords to spend two days negotiating winding river rapids in 40 degree heat in what has been described as the world’s toughest canoe race.

To prepare for it, the Billericay landlord cut back on his drinking and late-night snacking in favour of a 12-week fitness binge, including almostdaily gym sessions.

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As a result, Mr Ripo, who runs the Crown pub and the Orbe restaurant, both in Billericay High Street, the Barge Inn, at Battlesbridge and the Woodmans Arms in Rayleigh Road, Thundersley, lost nearly two stone.

He said: “The sheer excitement of not fully knowing what the challenge was going to be really appealed.

“I knew I needed to lose weight, but I needed a reason to do it. I knew what I had to do was really serious and if I didn’t get fit, I just wasn’t going to be able to do it.

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“I didn’t want to look a complete idiot on national television.

“The adrenaline was pumping from before the event started until long after it stopped. I honestly could have carried on even longer.”

The 5ft 9ins tall landlord now tips the scales at 15st 3lbs and is determined to continue his lifestyle overhaul and lose even more weight.

Mr Ripo and fellow licensees Emma Stubbings, from Chelmsford, and Nick May, from Harwich, only learned exactly what they would be expected to do days before they flew out to Texas last summer.

Go Hard or Go Home presenter and transatlantic sailor Hannah White helped the trio to prepare for the race.

She said: “My dream with this project was to give people the opportunity to experience the incredible, life-defining moments I’ve been lucky enough to have when competing.

“Setting yourself a goal, working towards it, and eventually achieving that goal is a feeling I wanted everyone in the show to experience.

“So much is possible if you work hard, believe in yourself and never give up.”