From sweating and puffing going upstairs to climbing Slieve Donard twice in one week, student teacher Caolan Byrne is a changed young man.
Caolan, who lives in Craigavon, is almost six stone lighter than he was this time last year and his waist size has dropped from 50 inches to a trim 36.
The 21-year-old, who is studying secondary school teaching at Queen’s, is honest about the root of his problems – “laziness and eating rubbish”.
He said: “I was really thin as a young child but at the end of P7 I started to put on weight. By the time I was 11 I weighed between 11 and 12 stone and when I was 15 I was between 16 and 17 stone.
“Apart from liking volleyball, I wasn’t a sporty person and once I got home from school I just used to eat.
“I was never bullied about my weight and nobody ever said the word ‘fat’ to me so I just kept doing what I was doing. My diet was terrible. I ate loads of take-aways.”
At Lismore Comprehensive School, Caolan wore a size 50 inch blazer and by the time he was at university his weight peaked at 21 stone 13lb.
But the turning point came in a simple invitation last August. Said Caolan: “I was working part-time in Homebase and a girl I had got friendly with asked if I wanted to start walking around the lakes.”
In the first week, he lost over one stone simply by eating healthily, cutting out fizzy drinks and walking.
The healthy regime fell by the wayside when he returned to university, but in February he got back on track, losing more weight before joining the Rugby Club branch of Slimming World in May, which he loves.
He said: “I feel brilliant. When I went back to uni after the summer, my friends couldn’t believe the change.
“I work in Asda in Portadown at the weekends and have been made a service host which means a lot of running around. Before, I couldn’t have walked around the store and now I’m like a whippet!”
Caolan is also a leader with Craigavon Christian Youth and has recently returned from a camping trip where he was able to take part in the more energetic activities rather than sitting on the sidelines. And he hasn’t finished his transformation yet, aiming to slim down even more from his present weight of 16st 4lb to 13 stone.
With research showing that four out of five students gain weight when they go to university, Slimming World is offering students the chance to join for free during October.