Thomas McIntyre, 43, from Larne, Northern Ireland, cut a huge figure at six foot tall, weighing more than 31 stone and had a waist measuring 74 inches.
But Mr McIntyre, a fresh food manager at Dunnes Stores, was named Slimming World Man of the Year 2013 yesterday after losing 17 stone 8lb, dropping to 13 stone 6lb and a 34-inch waist.
"I was the typical jolly fat bloke, always making fun of myself before anyone else had the chance to do it," he explained.
"Deep down, though, I'd reached the point where I thought about my mortality all the time and the more I worried, the more I ate, to comfort myself I suppose. It was a vicious cycle.
"The first and the hardest step is admitting to yourself that you need to do something about it.
"Now I'm living life. I'm no longer 'existing'."
Mr McIntyre had been overweight for more than two decades since giving up playing football in his early twenties without quitting the junk food his active lifestyle had previously allowed him to indulge in.
In the run-up to his wedding five years ago he became so worried about his increasing weight that he secretly purchased a bigger back-up suit – an 8XL.
"My weight felt like a huge burden when I married my wife Claire," he said.
"She's always loved me for me but getting a suit was difficult and I felt awful wearing it.
"Getting stuck in a turnstile when I went to Partick Thistle's ground wasn't much fun either. After that I had to go in through the disabled gate every time I went to a football game," he said.
Mr McIntyre's weight also left him on medication for a range of health concerns including high blood pressure, breathing problems and fluid retention.
He started Slimming World in February last year, losing 10.5lb in his first week. As the weight started to come off, Mr McIntyre felt confident enough to begin exercising.
He now runs three times a week as well as taking his dog on long walks. Mr McIntyre and his wife Claire now want to have children and hope that his weight loss and improved wellbeing will make that possible.
"We'd love to start a family, and the great thing about it is if I am blessed I'll be able to be a good dad.
"I'll be able to be the dad that can take them camping, can go out and play football, can ride a bike.
"Now I can be the dad that my father was to me, which would be the greatest gift I could give because it's a great gift that was given to me."
He added: "I can fit through the turnstiles when I go to the football now so there's no embarrassment there. In fact, that's the only downside to my weight loss because I have to queue with everyone else."