Liam Smith, of Normanton, was a sporty teenager who let his weight balloon after starting university.
But after dropping from 19st to 13st and losing 10 inches from his waist when he joined his local Slimming World group, Liam has been named the organisation's Mr Sleek 2017 - and has even been inspired to open his own Slimming World club.
Liam, a support worker who grew up in Bridlington, has seen his life transformed after his drastic weight loss, and he is now training to be a sports coach after taking up activities he had previously been unable to take part in.
He and his mum Donna started going to Slimming World classes in Normanton together to inspire each other to shed the pounds.
“When I was at school my whole life revolved around sport. I played badminton for East Yorkshire at county level, was in a football team every weekend and was studying PE at A Level. I chose to study theatre at university and left sport behind though, and that’s when I began to gain weight.”
Within a few years Liam went from being an athletic, 10st teenager to an unhealthy 19st. His confidence fell, he found it difficult to find clothes to fit him and hated seeing photos of himself so much that he often ‘untagged’ himself on social media sites.
It was back in May, after celebrating his birthday weekend with friends and having to buy an XXL shirt for the special occasion, that Liam decided to make a change.
“I’m originally from Bridlington and my old friends had come to visit. We had a really unhealthy weekend – McDonald’s breakfasts, takeaways, lots of alcohol – and the moment they went home I knew I had to do something about my size. Luckily my mum was joining Slimming World the following week so I made her promise to take me along.”
He and Donna, who has also lost two stone, joined Kirsty Spencer's Slimming World group at Normanton Junior Academy, despite Liam's fear that there would be few men there.
“I was so nervous that first night because it didn’t feel like something many men in their mid-20s do, but everyone was so welcoming and before long I considered them friends. I was excited too though because I knew people said Slimming World worked so I was eager to crack on.
“I’d only ever tried losing weight by eating healthily and exercising on my own before and I’d never managed to keep it up longer than a few weeks. This time I really enjoyed the support I got and feeling like I was inspiring other people, too. Our group’s like one big family.”
Liam previously relied on convenience foods, including ready meals and microwavable burgers, and takeaways. Now, he has learned how to cook homemade versions of his favourite burgers and curries.
“Eating for me used to be about comfort food and laziness, I enjoy cooking now and regularly cook for my best friend who I live with too – he’s lost two stone just by eating the same meals as me.”
Liam’s also become more active along the way, joining a local football team and getting back into badminton, as well as joining a gym, walking and cycling. His ambition now is to train to become a football coach so one day he can coach his two-year-old brother Charlie in a team, and he’d also love to try skydiving and bungee jumping – activities he’d previously been too heavy to attempt.
By November - just six months after walking through the doors of Slimming World - Liam reached his target weight. His family – mum, stepdad Paul and sister Bethany – have also lost a combined weight of five stone between them.
“I’m much more confident and I love sharing pictures on social media now. Since seeing what I’ve been able to achieve lots of people I know have started slimming too. I feel so passionate about it that I’ve decided to open my own Slimming World group to help more people lose weight like I have.”
Liam’s Slimming World group opens at St Joseph’s Church Hall, Castleford from Wednesday January 18 and will be held at 7pm every Wednesday.
Liam's old diet:-
Breakfast: McDonald’s breakfast
Lunch: Pre-packed sandwich
Dinner: Takeaway curry or ready meal
Snacks and treats: Microwave burgers, chocolate, crisps, sausage rolls, beer.
Liam's new diet:-
Breakfast: Big plate of grilled lean bacon (visible fat removed), mushrooms and tomatoes, scrambled eggs and baked beans, with wholemeal toast
Lunch: Chicken salad or homemade omelette
Dinner: Homemade lamb kofte curry with potato wedges (baked in the oven in low calorie cooking spray) and vegetables
Snacks: Fresh fruit and fat-free yogurts
Treats: Sauces with meals like tomato ketchup and mayonnaise and a beer