A much slimmer David took part in a 10-kilometre race. / SUR

'I used to weigh 273 kilos and I lost 100 in one year'

David Pajarón, from Malaga, has turned his life around with an Instagram account to spur him on and thousands of supportive followers

SUSANA ZAMORA

It was a trip to Amsterdam with friends that opened his eyes. After exploring the city on foot for a day, his body had had enough. That was the first cry for help. He didn't need any more warning. "I started to feel really bad and was so tired the next day that I couldn't move. I had to stay in the apartment, instead of going out and having fun," says David Pajarón.

That was six years ago. Now, he says he feels like a different person. That day marked a turning point in the life of this 34-year-old from Malaga. His weight had been increasing beyond the red lines for some time, but he had never realised that he had become morbidly obese.

David says he was always a chubby child, but was lucky enough to be surrounded by "good people" who never criticised him for the way he looked. He had a very happy childhood, although he does admit that it could have been better still if he had not had to miss out on some experiences because of his weight. "When you are morbidly obese, you get used to having to ask for help in finding a comfortable seat on a plane, and you know you can't go on certain fairground rides or even something as basic as running after your nieces and nephews," he says.

So, when David returned to Malaga from Amsterdam, he decided to change his way of eating and change his life. At the same time, he opened an Instagram account and used it as a type of diary, to remind himself what he wanted to achieve.

"It meant that if I forgot, or felt like giving up, I had somewhere to go," he says. But the response he received was unexpected. He received a huge amount of affection and support from his almost 9,000 followers. "I can count the number of negative comments on one hand," he says, and is proud that other users have followed his example.

His positive messages and down-to-earth, friendly personality have turned him, unintentionally, into a type of coach: "Fight to become who you want to be, or accept who you are," he says occasionally. He recounts his everyday life, such as in the early days when it took him 45 minutes to prepare his breakfast: "It used to be so easy to grab a vanilla milkshake and a sugary bun," he said. On that day he made pancakes with avocado and salmon, a smoothie of spinach, tomatoes, carrot, melon and chia seeds, and a herbal tea. Very different indeed to his previous life.

At one time David Pajarón weighed 273 kilos, although in 2015 when he decided to change his life he weighed exactly 223. At first, he had to use two scales to weigh himself, because they only went up to 180 kilos. However, in 14 months he managed to lose 100 kilos. "It was absolutely crazy!" he says. He did it "naturally, and on my own", although he admits that it is easier with guidance from an expert, whether a nutritionist, endocrinologist or personal trainer. "My key to losing weight has been to be honest with myself, recognise that I had an eating problem and that I was overweight because I lived a sedentary life and had an unhealthy diet. But without my family and friends I would never have succeeded," he says.

Realising that any change to his diet would also help his health and physical condition, he stopped eating sugar, flour and fried foods, and walked six kilometres a day. When he started to exercise it took him over 15 minutes to do one kilometre, but in four months it was down to nine minutes. A year later he ran a 10-kilometre race and then took up crossfit.

He now weighs 122 kilos and has the help of a nutritionist in Madrid. He eats four times a day, two big meals and two small ones such as fruit and nuts. What has been hardest for him so far? "The same as for everyone, giving up my favourite foods. I love eating," he says, with a smile.