An Arbroath student who lost almost five stone, transforming his mental and physical health, is on a mission to help others.
Kenzie Dunne says daily aggression and name-calling from school bullies made his life a misery and battered his self-esteem.
And, although he says he’s “still a work in progress”, his 30kg weight loss, exercise regime and new-found confidence have changed his outlook. Here he:
- Tells us how lockdown changed ‘a lifetime’ of bullying
- Shares a video showing how he transformed his health
- Gives a message to others wanting to lose weight or change their lives
“I’ve been bullied all my life because I was obese from a young age,” Kenzie, 16, says.
“Then when the first lockdown happened and I was away from school I decided to flip all the negatives from that lifetime of bullying – and do something positive.
“I was 20 stone.
“I’m really grateful the lockdown happened because it was a turning point for me.
“I didn’t have to face the bullies or have the same negatives each day bringing me down.
“I was coming home crying and reflecting on bad things that happened, so depressed, when I was at Arbroath High.
“It was really bad but thank goodness I was able to get through it and I want to inspire others to know they can too.
Being free from the worries about what would happen each day at school, Kenzie set himself the goal of running every day.
“There are so many young people out there with weight problems or with low self-esteem and it all comes down to your mind,” he says.
“If you really want something and dedicate yourself to doing it, then motivation follows and it becomes almost an addiction.
“I built it up from walking and then running three miles in the morning, three at lunchtime and three in the evening.
“I was so focussed on changing things that I wouldn’t even think about reasons not to go for a run, I just got up and did it and each time that motivated me more.
“Thinking of the bullies motivated me – those guys who said ‘you’re fat’, or whatever, that fuelled me in a positive way. And I lost 30kg.
“I adjusted my diet too. Now I have oats in the morning, omelette with avocado or similar at lunchtime and for tea chicken and veg or eggs.
“There are loads of things I can do now that I couldn’t before, such as just walking 100 yards walking up the stairs, without gassing out. It’s crazy!”
As he started seeing and feeling the difference, Kenzie’s confidence soared. And an inflammatory condition Hidradenitis suppurativa he suffered from also cleared.
“When I used to go on holiday or even down to the shops people would stare at me or my family. It was such a bad time,” he says.
‘Please be strong’
“My mum Aille and step-father Joe have really supported me. It wasn’t easy and I literally had to go to a place I’ve never been before mentally.
“I had to find out who I was and what I was made of. I had to feel uncomfortable to finally experience change. I’m sharing this video to show the before and after.”
It’s a message he wants to share to help others.
“I’m still a work in progress but if I can inspire even one person to try to change and better themselves, that would be amazing.
“To anyone out there struggling with life please be strong, search deep within to find out and face that adversity straight on. Only then change will come.
“And if anyone wants to get in touch with me for help contact me on Instagram @OfficialKenzie.”
Kenzie’s mum Aille couldn’t be more proud: “Kenzie was so badly bullied he turned to food for comfort and it became a compulsion.
“What he has done is amazing. Now he’s at college studying Uniformed Services and he has worked so hard to turn his life around. We are so very proud of him.”