A former limousine driver who weighed 448 pounds has lost a third of his body weight after he got so fat that he was told he might die and could no longer fit behind the wheel of his car.
Tom Firshing, from Elmont, New York, used to eat three fast food meals a day which he would consume in his car because he was terrified restaurant chairs would break under his weight.
After reaching 448 pounds, the 46-year-old could no longer work, used a walker and a cane and ordered takeaways from his room.
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Addicted: Tom Firshing, 46, pictured when he was 448 pounds, used to eat unhealthy fast food four to five times a day
Restrictive: Tom, pictured recently, had to give up his job as a limousine driver because he could no longer fit his body behind the wheel
Immobile: When Tom, pictured in his old clothes, got too fat to work he stayed in his room and ordered take-aways
Medical attention: Tom, pictured left at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event before his weight loss, said his legs ‘turned black’ and his mother forced him to go to the doctor
For lunch alone, Tom would eat two McDonald’s Big Mac meals, 20 chicken nuggets, and two chocolate cookies. He would later have six to eight donuts and coffee.
He would then eat the same calorific combination of foods again for dinner – setting him back up to $ 60 per day.
Tom also smoked three packets of cigarettes a day.
‘I used to drive limousines and cabs and had breakfast lunch and dinner in drive-thrus four or five times a day. I was eating just to eat and all without having to move.
‘You name it, I would order it- for lunch I would have two Big Mac meals and 20 chicken nuggets then a couple orders of chocolate cookies for dessert then I bought six to eight donuts and a coffee before having the same for dinner.’
After his legs ‘turned black’ his mother forced him to go to the doctor who told him he needed urgent weight loss surgery or warned him he could be dead by the end of the year.
Instead, Tom vowed to lose the weight by himself and started training at an Ultimate Fighting Championship gym.
Tom’s dramatic weight loss started after meeting UFC athlete Chris Cope in the surgery who took him to the gym where he now trains for two hours a day doing weightlifting and cardio.
Potentially fatal: The doctor told Tom, pictured during his weightloss, that without urgent weight loss surgery he would die
Determined: Instead of undergoing surgery, Tom, pictured with his trainer, decided to lose weight through diet and exercise
Progress: Tom, pictured with his trainer, now weighs 269 pounds and has lost 44 inches from his waist
Reaction: Tom, pictured recently, suffered set-backs when he first started exercising when he suffered three mini heart attacks
But his recovery was not without set-backs – when he first started exercising he had three mini heart attacks.
He said: ‘Chris Cope found me in the doctor’s office and brought me into the UFC gym then I met [trainer] Warren Kelly who I now consider my brother.
‘We’ve been through a lot together every day has been and still is a battle.’
He is now working as a sales manager for the gym and is studying to become a personal trainer to help others to lose weight.
He compared his change of lifestyle and career to being reborn.
He said: ‘It’s like being born again, I’m doing things for the first time like going out to a regular restaurant and not having to worry about whether the chairs will hold me. It’s a completely different lifestyle I’m now living.’
He added: ‘I’m now becoming a personal trainer so no more sitting in the car all day long.
‘I couldn’t sit in a regular car seat but driving is a pleasure for me now the steering wheel isn’t buried into my chest.’
New life: Tom, pictured far right exercising, is now working as a sales manager for his gym
Career-change: Tom, pictured lifting weights, is studying to become a personal trainer to help others to lose weight
Impact: Tom, pictured boxing, has had surgery twice to remove excess skin
Results: After three years of healthier living, Tom, pictured far right, who is six-foot-tall, currently weighs 269 pounds and hopes to drop a further 56 pounds
After three years of healthier living, Tom, who is six-foot-tall, currently weighs 269 pounds and hopes to drop a further 56 pounds.
He has lost 44 inches from his waist and had surgery twice to remove excess skin.
Tom has cut out fast-food completely, only eats red meat once a month and follows a diet of fruit shakes for breakfast, a meal bar for lunch and chicken breast or fish with quinoa for dinner.
‘I don’t live to eat anymore, I only eat to live. I don’t have time to be bothered with a wife or kids at 45 I’ve got to start over. Every day for me is a blessing,’ he said.
He said his eating spiraled out of control when he was 30 and he weighed just over 280 pounds.
He added: ‘Food became my comfort, my father was an alcoholic and drug addict which killed him.
‘The doctor said I better go to the hospital because he’s not going to make it they gave me no chance of survival but I guess it wasn’t my time to go.’
He paid tribute to his mother who he described as his ‘rock’, adding: ‘Her and my sister have been my support system.’