Man humiliated into losing weight by Facebook abuse over topless festival picture
Many of the comments branded Paul ‘disgusting’, a ‘fat f***’ and that he was a ‘whale on a day out’.
One social media user even said that he was ‘so fat he should be shot’.
Waiter Paul, from Cork, Ireland, said: “My friend rang me to warn me that a picture of me was being shared online and that it was going to upset me.
“They said I should not look at it but I had a strange compulsion to see it. I was so upset – the comments were awful, really, really upsetting.
“But no matter how bad they were I found myself obsessed with reading them even though they hurt me so much.
“At first I let them really get to me. They made me feel very down and depressed but I decided to do something about it in a positive way for myself.”
Paul completely overhauled his diet, quitting the takeaways, ditching the boozy nights out and heading to the gym at least three times a week.
Between January and August Paul lost four stone, before he joined Slimming World in September and lost another three stone – leaving Paul less than a stone off his target weight of 12 stone.
Paul looks unrecognisable from the 20 stone lad who had visited Future Music Festival in Australia with his friends in March 2014.
Backpacking and staying with friends in Melbourne and Sydney, Paul was enjoying himself at the festival and had climbed on a friend’s shoulders, even pulling his shirt off to enjoy the weather.
Paul said: “I was always known as the fat funny one but I never realised how big I was – until I saw this picture.
“It was a really hot day and I was drinking and having fun and climbed on my friend’s shoulders. Some of my friends took pictures of me but I thought nothing of it.
“However someone else in the crowd must have taken a picture and submitted it to a magazine to laugh at me. It was months later in December when there was a piece published about surviving at festivals, and they used this picture as an example of someone being a ‘human forklift’.
“But it got worse when they put it online and everyone started sharing it.”
So back at home in Cork, Paul set about making a positive change – eventually seeing his waist size drop from 42 inches down to 32.
Paul said: “I had been drinking five nights a week and eating takeaways all the time. I couldn’t fit into jeans anymore and I just said enough is enough after seeing myself in that picture.
“Now I only drink once a fortnight and I make all my own fresh food, no junk food at all. I make my own sauces from scratch rather than buying tins or jars of sauce too.”
Paul is now due to return to Melbourne in January to see the same friends who he visited Future Music Festival with – though now he believes he is returning a different person.
Paul said: “None of my friends can believe the transformation. Those in Australia have seen pictures and are shocked too. I don’t think they will recognise me when I land there – I can’t wait to see their faces as I look like a different person.
“I have always been quite a confident person but now I feel genuinely confident on the inside. When I was big I wouldn’t even go into a bar on my own but I don’t mind now.
“I love shopping for new clothes too. It’s crazy looking at my old clothes and thinking that I used to wear them.”