PAUL Palmer is half the man he used to be – well, a third to be precise, after shedding an incredible 12 stone in less than a year.

The dad of three said he has been given his life back since adopting a daily regime of healthy eating and exercise to drop from 36 stone to a little over 23 stone in nine months.

He visited his doctor in March after months of gorging on fatty foods since losing his job as a debt collector left him with a catalogue of health problems.

The original plan was for him to attend his local Slimming World group to shed enough weight to qualify for a gastric band operation, but after losing 12 pounds in his first week he opted to stick with the programme to avoid going under the knife.

“My health really deteriorated,” said Paul, 37, who lives in Tiverton.

“I was depressed, I had back pain and high blood pressure, and I just thought ‘enough is enough’.

“My young kids wanted to go out and run around but I was in a right state – I just couldn’t do it, so I knew something had to give.”

Nowadays, Paul can be found in either the gym, the swimming pool or the squash court almost every day of the week, and he has swapped the burgers and chocolates for stir fries and salads. He is also planning his wedding to fiancée Emma and has set his sights on launching his own Slimming World group in the New Year. “My life has changed beyond recognition,” he said.

“The group I’m with are absolutely fantastic. We really are like one big family. “As a man I was a nervous wreck the day I first walked in, but within minutes they made me feel so welcome.

“They’ve given me my life back – I can now enjoy spending time with my family.”