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Belfast teen Tom sheds 14 stone and rediscovers zest for life

Teenager thrilled after winning slimming contest

By Staff Reporter

Published 22/06/2016

Tom Johnston as he is today. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Tom Johnston as he is today. Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Tom Johnston before his weight loss. Photo: Slimming World/PA Wire

He may be half the man he used to be - but Belfast teenager Tom Johnston feels on top of the world.

The 19-year-old from east Belfast has just been named Slimming World's Young Slimmer of the Year after losing 14st 5lbs in just 13 months.

Once topping the scales at 27st and 5lbs, the student has swapped eating chips twice a day, crisps and chocolate bars for salads and home-made meals.

The Belfast Met A-level student impressed judges with how his determination overcame his depression over his obesity.

He was treated like a king at a reception at the Ritz in London yesterday.

"I'm just so happy now," Tom told the Belfast Telegraph. "Even without winning, I would feel happy. The world's my oyster.

"I feel so much better now as a person and I believe that I will be able to keep the weight off."

And while still single, Tom "wouldn't rule out" having a girlfriend in the near future.

Impressed by the weight loss of his sisters Brenda and Claire, who also attend the Braniel Slimming World club, he also decided to give it a try in March 2015.

Tom said: "One day I realised how sick I was of looking in the mirror and seeing someone who I wasn't happy with."

He lost 9lbs in his first week and has gone from 54-inch waist trousers to a trim 36 inches.

Now with £2,000 to spend from winning the competition, the 6ft plus young man can have his pick of the latest fashions.

A larger than average boy growing up, Tom's weight spiralled out of control after he broke his leg playing football at the age of 15.

"I couldn't go on crutches and had to use a wheelchair for quite a long time as it was a difficult break," said Tom.

"My weight really went south at this time as I wasn't doing any exercise but my calorie intake was the same, if not more."

Tom's weight affected his confidence. "I suffered from anxiety and low mood and my weight was a big contributor to that," he said.

"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."

Slimming World consultant Ashleigh Shaw, who runs the Braniel group, says: "I've watched Tom's life change dramatically over the past 15 months. He's a young man with a very bright future now and I feel honoured to have played a part in his journey."

BEFORE MENU

Breakfast: nothing, then a packet of crisps mid-morning

Lunch: breaded chicken goujons and chips

Dinner: BBQ spare ribs, fried rice a nd more chips

Snacks: chocolate bars, crisps

AFTER MENU

Breakfast: All-bran and fruit

Lunch: chicken salad or a ham and mushroom omelette

Dinner: chilli con carne with brown rice

Snacks: fresh fruit, fat-free yoghurt, small bag of crisps

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