Derry man sheds over 20 STONE to turn life around
Patrick Coyle has saved his own life by shedding over 20 stone.
The Derry man feared he’d never survive to see his 30th birthday after his weight ballooned.
Now he wants to take the final step by getting surgery to remove the skin which was stretched by his 37 stone frame.
He’s been touched by the public support for his fundraising efforts and has vowed to repay the kindness by reaching out to anyone struggling with weight loss.
Patrick was urged to set up his GoFundMe appeal by pals who wanted to help him reach his £5,000 target for the procedure in Poland.
After years of obesity he’s been left with folds of skin on his stomach and chest which can only be removed by surgery.
The 32-year-old says he feels like a different person after shedding over half his body weight.
And it’s still the little things that remind him of how far he’s come.
“It’s the small achievements that make me happy, like not having to ask for a seatbelt extension on a plane,” says Patrick.
“That always bothered me, it made me feel embarrassed and it’s one of the things that still stick with me.”
Patrick says he was always chubby, partly because of childhood asthma which left him out of breath after exercise, and simply because he ate too much.
“I ate too much of everything, and if I liked something I’d eat more of it. If I went to McDonald’s I wouldn’t have one burger, I’d have two.
“I also had sedentary jobs, sitting at a desk and I just wasn’t active enough.”
By the time he got to his mid-twenties he’d reached around 37 stone and didn’t need a doctor to tell him his health was suffering.
He regularly went to concerts and music festivals until he realised he couldn’t stand for long periods, and often took days to recover from any exertion.
“I knew I wasn’t well. Just from walking up stairs my heart felt like it would burst out of my chest.
“I did have a pretty decent social life, going out at the weekends. But I hated having to wear the big clothes, and then it got to the point where I was so uncomfortable standing,” he says.
“I didn’t know if I would live to see 30.”
Patrick’s friends and family shared his concerns but nothing made any difference until he decided for himself to make a lifestyle change.
“You could say to anyone that they’ve got to do something, but nothing changes until it clicks in your own head.
“It’s not until that light bulb moment – it’s like an alcoholic who has a moment of clarity,” says Patrick.
It was a change of job which helped motivate him, when working two days a week freed up time to hit the gym.
He took the simplest approach to his weight loss – eat less and do more.
He credits Karen Logue and Johnny Heywood, who worked at the time in his local gym with helping during the hard work, and they have continued to support him with a fundraiser last week.
“At my heaviest I think I was about 37 stone. My scales only went up to 35 stone – after that they just flashed up an error message.
“At the gym there was no judgment. I started in January 2011 and by the time I was able to go on the treadmill I could feel it shaking beneath me. I was afraid I’d break it.”
Within a year Patrick had lost 21 stone and felt like he’d started a brand new life, but his excess skin was the final impediment.
He asked several times if it could be removed on the NHS but when that led nowhere he decided to go for a private operation, which he’s scheduled for April.
Patrick was saving the money himself until friends made clear that they wanted to help him.
“I’m a private person and I didn’t want to broadcast it. But people were saying to me ‘we know your story’ and they wanted to support me.
“I’m still at the gym every day because I want to go over with as much excess skin as possible.”
Patrick, a tutor with Rutldege Recruitment and Training, says he’s been touched by the public backing, and happy to help people who are battling with obesity.
“I still have a big appetite and I still love food. I haven’t cut any food groups out and if I want a burger and chips and I can have it, just not every day.
“I think we all have an emotional attachment to food and there are times when we all reach for it as a comfort.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of people who want to lose weight and I’m helping a guy at the moment. I want to give back to anyone who’s in the same situation I was – I know how lonely it can feel.”
He believes the surgery will be the final step in his journey to a new life and has thanked the people who have supported him so far.
“It doesn’t feel like it was my life. It feels like I was someone else,” he says.
To donate to Patrick go to GoFundMe.com/patrickcoylefund.