A man who shed 14-stone feels “awful” about his body due to loose skin which makes him look like he has “melted”.
Josh Smyth started his weight loss journey after he and a friend went to Amsterdam and realised they were the fattest people there.
In the four years since, the 26-year-old has managed to cut his weight down from 26 stone to just over 12 stone.
Although the weight loss initially gave him a huge boost in confidence, he is now haunted by the loose skin he has been left with.
Josh told The Mirror: “When I look at my legs it looks like a 70-year-old man. And when I’m in bed with my partner it looks like I’ve melted into the bed because of the loose skin on my back.
“I will now look at my body and think why the f**k did I do this to myself, why did I lose the weight?
“Part of me thinks I was big and I was happy. I look back and think it must be the loose skin that is making me feel unhappy.
“It makes me feel unattractive. I can’t take my T-shirt off if I go to the beach.
“I still can’t get changed in front of people I don’t know. I worry that they will think ‘what happened to his skin, why does it look like that?’”
Josh’s struggle with food began when he started comfort eating after the death of his beloved grandfather in 2009.
The Costa Coffee manager, from Whitchurch, Shropshire, said: “My dad died in 2000 and my grandad passed away in 2009.
“I think 2009 really kicked off my eating habits. My grandad was such a big person in my life. I was always quite slim when I was younger.
“I was about 15 or 16 when he died and weighed around 11 or 12 stone. But over the duration of the next couple of years I went up to 15 stone and from there I skyrocketed.”
Josh used to guzzle a couple of one-litre bottles of Coca-Cola every day and eat a 16-inch pizza with chips most days.
He finally decided to make a change when he went to Amsterdam in August 2017 and realised he was fatter than anyone else there.
“I was on holiday with a friend and we were both quite large, I was 24-and-a-half stone and she was 18 stone,” he said.
“We looked around and we were the fattest people there, it was a case of ‘oh my God we need to do something about this.”
The pair pledged to lose some weight before returning to Amsterdam in the New Year.
When they came home they started going for walks every night and stopped ordering takeaway meals.
By the time they went back to Amsterdam, Josh had lost four-and-a-half stone.
“I never anticipated to lose as much as I did. After coming back it was a case of ‘let’s carry this on’. I started counting my calories and went from 2,800 calories a day to 1,400,” he said.
“Initially the weight loss made me feel amazing. But as time has gone on it’s made me feel awful about myself.
“Although I’m partially happy with my weight it’s become a bit of an obsession.”
Josh was diagnosed with body dysmorphia and borderline anorexia due to this “obsession”.
He added: “I was really self-conscious about how people saw me. It got to the point that I wouldn’t eat for a week or a couple of days or I’d try and starve myself as much as possible.”
Fortunately, Josh has stopped starving himself and now enjoys a healthy diet, although he is still plagued by his loose skin.
In 2019, he spent all of his mortgage savings on a £10,000 tummy tuck in Turkey to get rid of his “saggy” stomach skin.
Although he was happy with the results, he has now become obsessed with how his other body parts look.
He has set up a GoFundMe to raise £20,000 to get the loose skin on his back and thighs removed privately after being told he cannot have the surgery on the NHS.
Josh said: “It’s something they won’t do on the NHS as it’s classed as a cosmetic procedure even though it plays with my mind and affects my mental health on a daily basis.
“I feel like it’s very unfair as they have allowed people to have nose and breast reductions on the NHS but they won’t help someone who has helped themselves.
“I’ve saved the NHS money by not having a gastric band. I never asked them for anything and I thought they might be able to help me after losing all this weight.
“I’ve paid into the system and haven’t used the NHS for anything else. I know there’s people dying and in greater need but I see it as I also have feelings and a life to live, why should I have to be unhappy in a body that really wasn’t for me?”
Josh started a GoFundMe page after being told it would cost him £26,500 to have the procedures in the UK.
Although he could save money by going overseas, he wants to have the surgery in the UK as the risks are higher than his previous tummy tuck operation, which he had in Turkey.