This time last year, Stephen Orr was tipping the scales at 25 stone and feared he would not live to see 50.
One astonishing year later, Stephen is half the man he was and looking forward to a life transformed.
Stephen was eating all the wrong things and not even aching joints or being asked to get off a ride in a Florida theme park because he was too big for the safety harness could stop him.
However, last January signalled a health scare that led him to take stock and slim down. Now, 10 stone lighter, he has turned his life around.
“I feel amazing,” said Stephen. “I’m no longer resigned to my fate of an expanding waistline and an early grave. It really has been a fantastic year.”
Even though he knew it was bad for him, Stephen, from Erskine, Renfrewshire, spent years eating unhealthily.
“No matter the shame I experienced because of my weight, I just wouldn’t stop eating,” said the 46-year-old.
“There have been many times I really should have tried to change but didn’t.
“Like when I was unable to button 40-inch-waist jeans I bought specifically from a large man’s store in the States because I no longer could pretend to fit into 38s, or when a crowded lift would buzz because the weight limit was exceeded and all the silent eyes burn into the back of my head.
“Or having to replace the computer chair with an alarming regularity because I kept breaking them, being told by my wife I was too heavy to use the treadmill at home because I exceeded the 20st weight limit…there have been many, many things, but none that could break me out of that cycle.
“As morbid as everything sounds, it wasn’t until I actually came face to face with the prospect that it could kill me that I vowed to change my ways.”
On January 9, 2019, Stephen’s health took a turn for the worse.
Having been diagnosed with high blood pressure by his GP, Stephen was on a whole host of drugs – but the combination caused an irregular heartbeat.
“Seeing electrodes attached to my heart scared the life out of me,” he said. “As I sat there, I could finally see the damage I had caused myself. I had to have a really long, hard look at my life choices.”
Shortly after discharge, Stephen consulted his doctor who referred him to WeightWatchers. And it was the best thing that could have happened. The electrical engineer swapped sausage suppers, fast foods, cakes and anything covered in chocolate for fruit veg and healthy home cooking – and has so far managed to shed 10 stone.
“I feel much younger and invigorated,” he said. “Now I have a new lease of life and so much more confidence.
“I choose the stairs over the lift, park on a higher floor in a multistorey car park so I have to take the stairs and get off the bus a stop earlier and walk the rest.
“Before WW everything hurt – my knees, joints, back, neck, and ankles. All my joints would give out under my weight. Now I wake up feeling refreshed and well slept. It’s not just the health benefits. My attitude to food has changed. I eat well, and I eat good food. Food we prepare and cook ourselves is a million times better and fulfilling than anything I could pop in the microwave.
“I used to wear a size 40in trousers, and 3XL in a top, but now I wear a size 32in trouser and XL top.
“At the end of the day, eating well and staying active are massive parts of the solution, but you have to be in the right mindset.
“If you keep the end-goal firmly in sight, you can achieve it.”
Stephen’s positive attitude and significant weight loss has inspired family and friends to sign up to Weight Watchers, too.
His wife Dawn has lost 3st 11lb and friend Andrew just celebrated his 50lb weight-loss milestone.
“I’m in the final stretch of my new wellness journey, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings,” said Stephen. “But life would have been so much different if I hadn’t found the willpower to start today.
“Don’t leave it ’til tomorrow or next week, do it today – and it could be a year that changes your life.
“I’m only 46 and a year ago was ready for the scrap-heap – but now I’m looking forward to a bright, happy and healthy future.”