Sunday 19 November 2017

'I had no control over the situation' - Inspirational Irish teen turns life around after unflattering photo is shared online

Jennifer McShane

An inspirational teenager from Dublin has turned his life around after he was cyber-bullied last year.

Conor Doyle (18) spoke on RTE Radio One today about his struggle to lose weight and change his life for better after he was a victim of cyber-bullying.

Conor, who originally weighed around 17 stone, had been struggling with weight issues ever since he was young.

The teenager decided to turn his life around after an embarrassing photo of him was posted online last year.

Conor explained that he had posed for a photo with friends in a nightclub and, unknown to him, a stranger found the picture, cropped it and uploaded it to an embarrassing nightclub themed Facebook page.

"I was really humiliated," he told Marian Finucane on RTE radio today.

"The picture was suddenly seen by hundreds of people. I had all my friends text me asking me about the photo.

"It also acted as an invitation or window for people that I might have cut out of my life for previous mean comments, to come back in."

However, the brave young teenager turned what was a horrible situation into a positive one.

"I had no control over the situation, the picture was put out there for everyone to see," he said.

"I told myself that I was never going to be put in that situation again, and I wanted to do something about my weight."

Doyle turned to the W82Go programme, based in Temple Street, to beat the bullies, lose the weight and change his life for the better.

“I met with the whole team of people who all looked at my health from different aspects, and for my journey in particular they gave me an app to use as a treatment programme to monitor my progress. I used it for a year, and finished the program when I was 18. Thank God I did. Temple Street really opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to make a change," he said.

He said a large part of his success was doing something simple, such as leaving his wallet at home.

"My big habit was snacking," he continued. "So I just decided to leave my wallet at home and that stopped me buying sweets. It might seem like an extreme reaction but it really helped me."

He attributed healthy eating and sports as the reasons he could keep the weight at bay.

Conor has shed an amazing 3 1/2 stone so far, and is now offering to help other teenagers who may be struggling with their weight.

"It's never that easy to disregard mean comments, I was lucky to surround myself with really supportive people and I think that’s key. I would say to people to use their bad experiences to turn it into a positive, even though it's a difficult thing to do."

"The first step to losing weight is to admit to yourself that you have a weight problem. I had to take a good hard look at myself and admit that I had a problem," he said.

The teenager's life has turned around and improved dramatically as a result. He said the weight loss had allowed him to “do two things he never thought possible.”

“Among other things, I recently received an offer to study law at Oxford. It's something I never would have applied to do when I had the weight on, because my confidence was that low, but since lost the weight my confidence has gone up and I said to myself ‘this is something I might be able to do,’ and it seems to have paid off.”

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