Most of my memories of my brother Mark involve food. As a kid he was always eating. Whether it was three slices of birthday cake at a family party, piling crisps on top of his pizza at dinner or helping himself to chocolates from the fridge he kept in his bedroom.

I was astounded at the amount he could pack away, but we treated it as a joke. Popular and with a wicked sense of humour, Mark never seemed unhappy. It’s only recently Mark has admitted to overwhelming feelings of sadness about his weight and that he even contemplated suicide.

Looking back, it’s clear Mark lacked confidence in his appearance. He struggled to make eye contact and was uncomfortable eating in front of strangers. On holiday he was never seen without a baggy t-shirt, even when swimming in the pool. He feared the judgement of others and worried girls would reject him.

At 21, Mark lost 8 stone in 10 months on the Atkins diet. I was thrilled with his transformation. Mark had always been attractive in a cute and cuddly way, but now he was undeniably a very handsome chap. Unfortunately, as with most diets, Mark’s new regime was unhealthy and unsustainable. Eating nothing but protein and fat for months had made Mark lethargic and irritable and, when he finally started eating normally, his body couldn’t cope. The weight crept back on.

At 28, Mark hit rock bottom. He lost his job, split with his long-term girlfriend and moved back in with our parents. His weight ballooned to 23 stone – an all-time high.

Mark had always found comfort in food, but this time he knew the answers wouldn’t be found in the fridge. It was time for a fresh start. Through sensible eating and regular exercise, Mark shifted 8 stone over two years. He cut out his favourite high fat foods, ate a healthy balanced diet and, crucially, learned to eat only when hungry. He learned new exercises by watching YouTube videos and put together his own HIIT circuits to do in the garden. When he’d lost some weight and gained confidence, Mark joined a gym.

Mark knew it wasn’t just his body that needed work, but his mind too. He took various courses to build his confidence and eventually qualified as a life coach. He needed to address the reasons why he was overeating and learn to deal with negative feelings.

Finally, fit, healthy and at peace, Mark wanted to help others achieve what he had done. In 2014, he took his personal trainer qualification.

These days, Mark is almost unrecognisable from the chubby insecure lad he once was. He runs his own successful personal training business, has a lovely new girlfriend and speaks to others with assurance. He does weight training five times per week and follows a healthy high protein diet. Last month he competed in the prestigious Miami Pro bodybuilding pageant and looked absolutely amazing.

Mark’s journey to good health and wellbeing hasn’t been an easy one, but he had the strength of mind to confront his demons in search of the happy life he deserves. My brother’s favourite quote comes from Winston Churchill; ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ It’s apt because success is never linear. It comes through persistence and commitment – the will to rise above difficulties and attain your goals. I am exceptionally proud of what Mark has achieved. He is living proof that our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.