By Rafaela Kuznec @RafaelaKuznec

At 16 YEARS OLD, Thomas Towns, 20, from California, was approaching 400lbs and was so repulsed by his appearance he wouldn’t even look at his reflection in the mirror

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Videographer / director: Jason Arambulo

Producer: Rafaela Kuznec, Ruby Coote  

Editor: Beth Angus


Thomas told Barcroft TV: “I never looked in the mirror, never looked at photos, I just have no memory of who I was or what I look liked for 16 years of my life.”

Speaking of the causes that led him to obesity, Thomas said: “I lost my father when I was 10, and I believe that was something that started that snowball down a hill effect: it caused depression, anxiety, which then caused the overeating and the stress eating and really just kind of kept on getting worse and worse over the years.”

When Thomas hit his heaviest – 360 lbs at 16 years old - his weight started affecting his social life: “I didn't have very much friends and my home life wasn't exactly the best.

“So I'd say that depression that came with the feeling of being cut off from everyone else was another huge factor.

“Not just the numbers on the scale, but the depression, the anxiety, the lack of friends, just the loneliness, of being cut off from everyone.”

He continued: “Obesity affected my health physically, mentally, emotionally.

“I now have loose skin, stretch marks, a lot of scars from how I was before.

“I still have mental scars as well from the bullying, from the overweight, from not being able to fit in with everyone, as well as the depression and anxiety.

“I can deal with the physical scars, I think the biggest is the emotional and mental damage that it's done.”

His life turned around when Thomas saw a nutritionist who taught him how to eat well.

He also started working out and as a result, has lost 160lbs in two years.

“Losing the weight not only taught me how much I can do, but it showed me that the limits that I may think that I have, are only there until you break them,” Thomas said.

Speaking of his healthy regime now, Thomas explained: “Mainly I stick to the whole foods, I try and buy things fresh as possible, nothing processed, nothing in a box.

“And my workout regime is really built around my schedule, I work out every single morning, except for Saturday's – consistency is the biggest key with weight loss.”

Thomas said that he balances his social life with a healthy diet and exercise regime.

He said: “I have my cheat days, I have my rest days, I make sure that hang out with my friends, I'm not going to choose the gym over going out with somebody.”

Thomas said that keeping up with a healthy lifestyle has given him the confidence he lacked before.

“I believe I'm in the best state that I've ever been, both physically and mentally and emotionally, through cognitive therapy, through exercise.

“My dietician helps me with that; my friends helped me with that.

“Now, I have a lot more confidence than I've ever had,” – he said and admitted that he is still on his journey to self-love.

“I think making sure that you're always happy no matter what is number one.

“I've progressed with my social skills, I've progressed with my anxiety - learning how to control that.

“I think we all have negative thoughts and we all tend to put ourselves down, but you can learn to be proactive, and you can learn how to react to those thoughts and how to control them.”

Thomas added: “I'm not the healthiest person, I'm not the best, the smartest, wisest person, but I believe, going through the transformation that I did, it taught me a lot about what I'm capable of and how to control things when they come up, and how to be able to handle heavy situations and still progress through life.”

The 20-year-old says that he can finally look at his reflection in the mirror and be proud of what he has achieved so far.

“I couldn't even make eye contact with myself at first. 

“I had to really build that confidence up and be able to see who I am, and then I also had to teach myself how to smile again as well.

“Now, I see myself, I see the person that I saw before underneath the mask I guess.

“I can definitely look at myself in the mirror and understand that that's who I am.”

He concluded: “No matter what you weigh, it really depends on if you're happy at where you're at, and of course, health is a big factor as well.

“It’s just something I think you should do for your loved ones and the people who care about you, to take care of yourself as much as you can and to stick around as long as you can.”