FORMER The Only Way Is Essex star James Argent has been spotted looking unrecognisable as he stepped out on his 34th birthday.
The reality TV favourite was photographed as he headed to his local newsagents to buy a copy of The Sun on Sunday – showing off his trim figure.
Arg, 34, lost a whopping 11 stone this year after undergoing life-saving gastric bypass surgery to help him shed the extra pounds.
The results of his weight loss were clear to see as he stepped out on his special day, keeping it casual in black jeans and a beige jumper.
He completed his look with black trainers and a silver watch and covered up with a grey coat, while his brunette tresses flowed in the wind.
James was all smiles as he exited the newsagents, waving enthusiastically to fans across the street as he headed out for a birthday breakfast.
He was joined by his parents – Martin and Patricia – for the special meal before heading back home to be with the rest of his family.
Smiling on the steps of his home, James posted a picture to Instagram as he thanked fans for their “love and support” over the past year.
He penned: “I want to thank everyone for their love and. I continuously get stopped in the street by people saying, ‘Keep going Arg’ and ‘You’ve got this’.
“I’ve been through a hell of a lot but I’m so lucky to have so many people behind me & that believe in me. I’ve got lots to be proud of.”
Arg noted that he was particularly proud of “his weight loss” before joking he now had his sights on finding “the love of his life” in 2022.
Last month Arg exclusively told The Sun how he feared he was eating himself to death after bingeing on fast food, fizzy drinks and snacks left him tipping the scales at almost 27st.
He proudly revealed he has reached his target weight of 15st 7lb after shedding almost 11st.
Arg, who began piling on the pounds in lockdown after kicking his cocaine and booze addiction, says doctors told him he was “on death row” — but it took his mum Patricia breaking down in tears in his bedroom for him to finally seek help.
He told us: “Bingeing made me tired and lethargic so I’d make plans every day to meet friends, do a job or achieve something.
“But after I binged, I was so exhausted I’d end up just staying in bed and not leaving the house. Then one afternoon my mum found me in bed and started crying.
“She said, ‘I don’t recognise my son any more.’ That was a big wake-up call.
“Also, I reached the heaviest I’ve ever been in the height of the pandemic and doctors said I was dicing with death because I’ve got bad asthma and was morbidly obese, which was the worst possible combination if I was to catch Covid.
“I could have been a goner, so I just knew I had to do something.”
Arg, who in April had a major stomach op to limit his food consumption, said his eating disorder spiralled out of control after beating his substance addictions, which saw him suffer two near-fatal overdoses.
‘COMFORT-EATING TO ESCAPE FEELINGS’
After a successful spell in rehab in Thailand at the beginning of 2020, he replaced the drink and drugs with junk food.
He told us: “I was in a good place. I had a healthy balance of food and exercise, a good routine and I was three months clean and sober.
“Then as soon as I came home we went into lockdown, so all of the plans I had to stay active with boxing and swimming and staying busy with work were thrown up in the air.
“I was living alone and even though I wasn’t doing drink or drugs, which I was extremely proud of, I was comfort-eating out of boredom and to escape feelings, and it got out of control.”
The £10,000 gastric op — which Arg paid for himself — was carried out by the Transform Hospital Group at the private Burcot Hall Hospital near Birmingham.
Because of the huge reduction in stomach size, Arg can only eat tiny portions of food, which has led to his dramatic weight loss.