Software engineer James Mitchell said he had always been overweight and enjoyed tucking into food. Even as a child, he had no interest when he was sent to see experts and found ways to trick them into believing he had lost weight.
He said: “The first week I would go in and fill my pockets with stones, keys, coins, everything. I would get on the scales and they would say I had put weight on. The next week I would take things out of my pockets and lose a bit.
“I wasn’t changing what I was eating. My mum was giving me money for healthy food and I was going to the chippy nearly every day.
“What other people said or did didn’t really matter to me. I was just who I was.”
But something changed in April 2019 and he decided it was finally time to make an effort to slim down.
James, who lives in Standish, said: “In my head I was absolutely fine. In my brain, I was fat and I was happy being like that.
“If I look back now, things weren’t right for a long time. I got problems with my feet being sore. I would go to the hospital and they would say I was carrying a lot of weight and I would just say okay.
“I went on an all-inclusive holiday to Egypt and had a great time. I ate what I wanted, I drank what I wanted, I did what I wanted.
“I came home and thought I would walk the dogs. I thought I would go for the usual walk of one kilometre out and one kilometre back, just a quick one. I got about 500 metres and thought I was going to collapse and die. I was sweating, I was having trouble breathing and I had to go home.”
James went home and decided to throw away all the “rubbish” in his house, such as cakes, biscuits and sweets.
He went to buy healthier food and then started to look online for a diet that would fit into his life and help him to lose weight.
James, who then weighed 29st 13lb, chose the 1:1 diet Cambridge Weight Plan, which involved meal replacement products and support from a consultant.
He said: “A lot of people say they don’t think they could cope on milkshakes, but there are a wide range of products.
“For me, when I was on plan, I would have a milkshake for breakfast, soup for lunch, a savoury meal in the evening and a chocolate bar for pudding.”
It was a far cry from the food he was eating before, which included three takeaways a week, two litres of fizzy pop every day and fish and chips every Friday.
James, 41, was determined to stick to the diet and the weight quickly came off, losing four stone in the first few months.
He also became more active, increasing his daily dog walks to 5km and eventually joining a gym.
James managed to reach his goal weight of 13st 13lb – a loss of 16st – in just 14 months and says he now feels “great”.
“It’s things you don’t even notice,” he said. “I live in a three-storey house and if one of the dogs goes to the top storey, before I would have been out of breath by the time I got there. Now, I can run up the two flights of stairs without being out of breath to chase him back down.
“I can do stuff now that I could never have imagined.”
His weight loss has led to work colleagues he has known for years failing to recognise him and he was shortlisted for a Man of the Year award at Cambridge Weight Plan’s annual convention.
He said: “It was an absolute shock to be honest. I didn’t do it to be shortlisted for Man of the Year.”
James is determined to keep his new figure and is now helping other people to lose weight following the same plan.
He said: “I’m starting to help people who want to lose weight now and have become a consultant.
“I have done it and know how hard it is to do – or not so hard if your mind is in it.”
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