"I WOULD get out of breath on the stairs and never run unless I was being chased," pensioner Frank Saunders said, sporting his new slim frame.
"When you are carrying that sort of weight you can't even drop the tray down on an aeroplane because your stomach gets in the way.
"Two of my sons lived in Switzerland, but any walking that involved uphill was very uncomfortable."
Struggling to find clothes that fit, Mr Saunders knew something had to change and did it in a dramatic way.
But it was only when his wife, Gill Saunders, asked him to carry a sack of potatoes to the garage, he truly realised how much weight he had lost – around a quarter of his body weight.
The 65-year-old of the Clements Park Estate in Warley said: "I told her the potato sack was flipping heavy and she laughed.
"She said to me, 'You had been carrying that around with you all the time'."
In total, the father of three has lost nearly four and a half stone. He used to weigh 16st 11lb.
It was only through a warning and referral from his GP surgery – as his weight affected his breathing condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – that made him drop the pounds.
Back then the nurse gave him vouchers for 12 free weeks of membership at the Brentwood Slimming World group from October 2009 and he never looked back.
It took him just over a year to achieve his ideal weight of 12st 7lb and he has stuck to it ever since, allowing him to attend the classes for free as long as he keeps his weight down.
Mr Saunders is now to be honoured with a diamond member gold badge, handed to those who keep to within their target weight for a year or more.
Mr Saunders, who is the general manager at the Trinity Church in Coxtie Green Road, Pilgrims Hatch, said: "People ask why I still go, surely I don't want to lose any more weight, but it is being part of the group that keeps you on track.
"Now I can run up and down the stairs, I'm active in work and cycle across to work from Warley without a problem.
"It has taken years off me. It has changed my life."
For more information about the group call Slimming World consultant for Brentwood and Ongar, Tracy Stringer on 07584 676670.