Man, 25, who lost 7st after best friend took own life ‘wanted to make him proud’
A man who weighed 20 stone at his heaviest revealed how he shed 100 pounds in less than a year after the tragic death of his best friend.
Luke Ash, 25, forced himself out of a deep depression after his closest pal, Ryan James, took his own life at the age of 23 in August 2019.
The devastating news threw Luke’s life into chaos and he admitted he “just didn’t care anymore” and would eat anything.
Describing himself as a “big lad” even before the tragedy, Luke says he started to pile on the pounds even more as his mental health spiralled downhill.
The pair had just got back from a summer holiday in Barcelona together when he got a phone call dealing the heartbreaking blow.
“We’d been best friends since we’d met in Year 8 in school,” said Luke, from Blaengarw, Bridgend.
“It was just such a huge shock. We had gone on holiday to Barcelona in May of that year and it was a time of real happiness as his brother had recently got married.
“That August, we had planned to go to see a Wales v England international in Cardiff, so he was still making plans.
“It just didn’t feel real. The process of going through losing someone like that is hard at anytime but being under those circumstances just made it even worse.”
Luke says his instinct was to turn to food as a way of coping through the grief.
“I don’t really drink or anything so food has always been my thing,” he said.
“Food was my crutch. To be honest with you I just didn’t care at the time. I didn’t notice or pay any attention to what I was doing or what I was eating.”
This state of mind lasted several months following Ryan James’ passing, but something changed in Luke’s world when coronavirus started spreading across the world in 2020.
He admitted that the pandemic was “a catalyst” for losing weight because of the numerous reports that obesity was a risk factor.
Luke started counting calories and did intermittent fasting that would see him not consume any food for 18 hours a day.
“I still ate things I liked because I still wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth, but I would buy low calorie things. I set myself a daily limit of 2,500 calories whereas before that I would be eating 4,000 calories plus every day,” he said.
Since he started his diet in May 2020, Luke has lost 100 pounds in 10 months – that’s just over seven stone.
His appearance has been transformed as he now weighs 13st 7lbs, and still wants to lose more and get down to around the 12st mark.
Despite admitting he will go back to eating breakfast in the mornings again as he continues his diet he vows he “certainly won’t go back to eating and snacking late at night”.
For the first time in years, Luke said he can enjoy the simple things in life – having more energy, going for walks, going for runs and sleeping better.
“Ryan is always on my mind,” admitted Luke.
“I have been on diets before and lost a bit of weight and he would always congratulate me and say I looked good. He would always encourage me to do well so I definitely wanted to make him proud.
“I want to work in mental health in the future and hopefully I’ve shown others that you can do something positive in such difficult times.
“If one person can get motivated to lose weight or make changes in their life because I’ve shown it can be done then that’s great. Sometimes people just need that little push.”