A NEILSTON man is celebrating a new lease of life after shedding more than five stone in less than a year.

Paul Johnstone, of Glen Avenue, dropped almost 80lbs after a health scare, with the help of Weight Watchers.

The civil servant weighed 16st 4lbs and was approaching his 48th birthday in 2017 when he began to get chest pains and shortness of breath.

Diagnosed with angina, he underwent surgery to have a stent fitted and was advised to lose weight.

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After six months of trying various exercise regimes and failing to shift any flab, he was given an NHS referral to Weight Watchers, joining the meet-ups at the Bank Cafe guided by award-winning coach Phyllis Templeton.

Paul said: “I was always heavy, I’ve never been a slim Jim, but over the last 10 years I just kept getting bigger.

“I had been unhappy with my size but I’d never done anything about it. The health scare was the impetus to turn my life around but it took Weight Watchers to make it a reality.”

The married father-of-three had gotten exercise walking his dogs but had developed some bad eating habits.

He said: “Weight Watchers gave me the impetus to stick to a plan and really go for it. I didn’t do any more exercise than I’d previously done but they focused my mind on eating healthily and got me to drop the bad habits – the chocolate bars, crisps, snacks.

“And portion control was really important. Whatever’s on your plate, if there’s twice as much as you need, it’s not good for you.”

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It wasn’t long before Paul’s discipline, combined with the group’s encouragement, paid off and he began to see the results, dropping 79lbs in nine months.

And, after shaving his beard off for charity, he’s now almost unrecognisable.

Paul said: “It took my family a long time to get used to me. I must admit that I sometimes look in the mirror and don’t recognise the man looking back.

“More importantly, I feel absolutely fantastic. I played rugby for most of my life but retired five years ago. Now I’m hoping to be back at it this season.

“I’ve been to a few pre-season training sessions and it was difficult but I couldn’t have done half of it before. When I’m walking the dogs, I can cover the same distance in a lot less time, so I’m taking them further and getting more exercise.

“I’ve bought a whole new wardrobe as well, twice over. I went from being an 18.5-inch collar to a 14.5-inch slim fit. My waist size has gone from 38-40 to 30-32. I haven’t had a 30-inch waist since I was in my early teens.”

Asked if he had advice for anyone else looking to slim down, Paul said:

“If they live in the Barrhead or Neilston area, my advice would be to go to Phyllis’s Weight Watchers class.

“It’s not work, it’s a great laugh, but you learn things at the same time and it keeps you motivated.”