Tom’s got a second chance after losing weight
At his heaviest 19-year-old Tom Johnston, from Belfast, felt so low that he was forced to drop out of his sixth-form studies. Now, since losing 14st 5lbs*, he’s gone back to college and says he feels like his life has begun again.
“I broke my leg when I was 15 and needed a wheelchair to get around – that’s when my weight problems started. I suffered from anxiety and low mood and my weight was a big contributor to that. I couldn’t enjoy things like my friends did and I was scared to go out because I worried what people might think or say about me because of my size.”
“I tried losing weight by eating healthily but found it difficult to stick to anything. My mum and sister had joined a Slimming World group and been losing weight successfully. In all honesty, I worried their group would be like an episode of the Golden Girls – I thought I’d be the only guy and wouldn’t fit in – so I didn’t really want to go with them. Then one day I realised how sick I was of looking in the mirror and seeing someone who I wasn’t happy with, so I bit the bullet.
Before I went through the doors I felt as if I was walking into a lion’s den, but I can honestly say the people in the group are some of the nicest I have ever met in my life and every week we have great craic. It was the best thing I ever did.
“Now I eat a much wider variety of foods, including my favourite homemade chilli con carne or curry and rice. I also joined a gym, started riding a bike and enjoy talking my dog, Ollie, on long walks.
“The group really motivated me and, as I lost weight, my mental wellbeing started to get better. I had the confidence to go back to college and I’ve just finished my AS exams. For years I didn’t like to think about the future because I worried I’d be overweight and unhappy for the rest of my life. Now I’d like to go to university and I know I’ll be able to get a better job because I’m in a better place.
“I’m comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life so I feel like I’ve got a chance to start again and I want to grab every opportunity – even those things other people might take for granted like riding a bike or just going out with my friends – with both hands.”
Tom’s Slimming World Consultant Ashleigh Shaw adds...
“I’ve watched Tom’s life change dramatically over the past 14 months and there have been so many firsts for him – he’s joined a gym, started riding a bike, been out clubbing and started his studies again. He’s a young man with a very bright future now and I feel honoured to have played a part in his journey.”
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.