‘I wasn’t fat but I thought I was a whale’ – Student (20) shares his battle with eating disorders

A DCU student who suffered with eating disorders as a teenager has told how TikTok and the gym have changed his life for the better.

his mental health month, James Doyle (20) who also goes by the nickname ‘Protein Bor’, explained that he had a lot of eating disorders and never felt comfortable in his own skin.

James is a part of Spunout’s ‘BeReal With How You Feel’ mental health campaign.

He told the Independent.ie: “The gym really did save me. I was posting content showing off how good the gym is and now I’m doing it to inspire lads to go to the gym because I think it’s the best thing in the world. Now there’s so many young Irish lads following me. I remember being 14 or 15 years old and restricting what I was eating, counting calories on MyFitnessPal, and taking progress pictures.

“I wasn’t fat at all, but I thought I was a whale. I like to help people understand that it’s perfectly fine to be who you are and that I found comfort in the gym.”

James is currently in his final year of communication studies in Dublin and last year, he was just an average lad from Mullingar. But over the summer, he had the idea of ​​creating a TikTok to pass the time, but little did he expect to return to college as a worldwide social media star in September.

“I started (TikTok) about the 18th of April or so because I was just out of college for the semester. I just said if I make a bo***x out of myself, grand because I don’t have to put up with anyone for about three or four months. I said if I was going to do it, I was going to do it properly so basically, I uploaded like crazy.” James said.

“I was working a full-time job, I was working on a building site, 10-to-12-hour days. Then I was going home in the evening, going to the gym, and then making TikToks.

“I started reviewing the protein bars, I was doing them for about three or four weeks and then I got 100,000 views on my Mars bar video. I was over the moon; it was the most I ever got. Then I got about 65,000 to 70,000 followers and that’s when it hit. I woke up the next morning and I was on 100,000 followers and for over the next five days I reached 240,000. I was getting international recognition.”

James said that his new way of life can be exhausting but he believes that he is mentally trained for it.

He added: “The worst thing is being stared at no matter where I go, it’s such a weird sensation, I don’t mind it; I’m well used to it at this stage. I’d be walking with my mates, and I remember one saying: ‘James, I hate walking with you’.

“Thankfully, I’m in the gym so mentally I’m trained very well. I can kind of power through stuff.

“I’d be on O’Connell Street, and I’d hear people say ‘Protein bor’. It’s mental but it’s really cool when lads come up for photos, it’s nearly heart-warming.

“I remember going to a Minecraft convention when I was about 12 and I waited two or three hours to see this guy who Minecrafted on YouTube. He was my inspiration back in the day. Now there’s children that age coming up to me for photos, it’s mad.

“But I do get fairly exhausted. Last year I was looking homeless coming into my lectures, but nowadays I can’t. There’d be videos of me standing around DCU on TikTok saying ‘Protein Bor is on campus, but I go to college here. I have to dress at least half presentable.”

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