Abuse from strangers in the street and a horrifying attack prompted South Shore man Jason Richardson to realise he had to take action.
The 41-year-old had been 10st overweight for years and says his confidence was at rock bottom when he decided to sign up for something which changed his life.
He joined Slimming World and has not looked back since.
It has helped him so much, he is now taking on sessions as a consultant himself to help others in the same way.
Jason, from South Shore, said: “I was married to an American lady and I got a job in IT and led a very sedentary lifestyle – I spent 10 years being 10 stone overweight.
“I got divorced and I was just living on convenience foods, pizzas, take-aways.
“I had been bullied at school and then I was bullied as an adult – I would get people shouting abuse at me in the street because of my size. I had no confidence.
“One day I was walking home from work, when some men in a van shouted abuse at me and I retaliated.
“They got out of the van and just attacked me.
“That pushed me into action really and I knew I had to do something. I saw a poster for Slimming World in the window of the hairdresser’s that I lived above.
“Then I saw a Slimming World leaflet blowing in the wind too in the street. I felt it was almost like a sign, so I decided to go to my first meeting.
“I went along and saw my sister there who I hadn’t seen for two years – so it just felt like fate.”
Jason found the group so supportive and the Slimming World programme so easy to follow, he soon started shedding the pounds and has so far lost 9st 5lbs since joining in September 2011, when he tipped the scales at 23st.
“When I was first weighed at my first meeting, I couldn’t even look at it. But my group leader, Angy Smith, who has been wonderful, said to me ‘you’ll never see that weight again’. And she was right.
“It’s literally changed my life. I have so much more confidence, more energy, and I never feel hungry or deprived.
“My waist was 46ins and now it’s 34ins.
“I used to just buy clothes when I went to visit my brother in the US, he lives in Texas, and go to the XXXL section in WalMart.
“I hadn’t been to see him for two years and when I went to see him this time, I saw some of my clothes from before and they were huge!
“It really has helped me so much and I feel so passionate about it, I want to help other people too.”
Jason’s Slimming World sessions will be held on Thursday nights, at 7pm, at Highfield Humanities College, South Shore, starting this Thursday.
He added: “It’s an amazing venue, and I also hope to promote the school connection.
“Slimming World does offer a scheme called Free 2Go, where parents can bring their 11 to 15-year-olds with them for free to help them learn how to make healthy swaps.
“As I was bullied at school and as obesity, including in children, is a growing issue, I feel really strongly about trying to help youngsters.”