A MAN was told he was going to die if he didn’t lose weight...so he shed a whopping 23-stone in just 18 months!

James Mason, 29, was informed by doctors in 2011 that he would be dead within five years if he didn’t change his lifestyle.

At the time he weighed 39 stone and would regularly binge on greasy, fried food and meals out while working as a second-hand car salesman.

By the time James was 27 he was wearing XXXXXXXXL clothes and trousers with a 58-inch waist.

His health was very poor. He was suffering with breathing trouble, swollen legs and other physical problems which led doctors to give him the stark diagnosis.

So James, 29, of Main Road, Hockley, decided to change his life and found Thai training camp Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket on the internet.

He booked a flight and moved out to the training camp where he knuckled down to a healthy diet and exercise.

He said: “When I was at school I was captain of the basketball team, l played rugby too.

“When I went to work I got lazy. My weight just crept up on me over the years, I didn’t want to admit to myself that I needed to change my life.

“One day I went to the hospital and they said ‘you have got five years to live’. I went on the internet and found Thai training camp Tiger Muay Thai and then just upped and left.

“Now I am training people all over the world.”

James, who has kept a blog of his time in Thailand, is now back in the UK for Christmas and told how his family and friends hardly recognised him at first.

The last year and a half hasn’t been easy and as well as the battle with his weight, he also caught a flesh-eating bug, necrotizing fasciitis, and could have lost his leg.

He said: “It was a struggle to walk 400 metres to begin with and now I am running 10km every morning. It changed my life. I am training four or five times a day.

“People don’t recognise me now, mum and dad recognised me at the airport but had to take a second glance. Some friends here have walked straight past me.

“I was badly ill in August 2011, I was out of action for three months and had three operations to cut both my legs open and cut the infection out.”

James, who went to Greensward Academy in Greensward Lane, Hockley, is determined to keep his healthy lifestyle going and has organised a 750-mile bike ride from Phuket to Bangkok in January to raise money for disabled children in the country.

He added: “It is going to be tough, but it is nice to give back.”

To find out more about James’ story, or to sponsor his bike ride, go to www.weightlossthailand.com.