A ‘Likely’ example

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

John ‘Tiny’ Likely has lost 86 pounds, and says anyone can accomplish their goals this New Year with the right attitude.

John ‘Tiny’ Likely has lost 86 pounds, and says anyone can accomplish their goals this New Year with the right attitude.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

Those are the words of encouragement John “Tiny” Likely has for anyone considering a weight-loss goal as a New Year’s Resolution.

Star-News readers first met Likely in the fall, not long after he started his weight loss program. On August 8, the first day he and supports found scales on which he could weigh, he topped out at 473 pounds, and he had already lost a shirt size then.

At his last weigh-in, on Dec. 19, he was down 86 pounds. That’s an average of 4.52 pounds per week for 19 weeks.

“By the end of the month, I hope to be at 100 pounds of weight loss,” he said. “My overall goal was to lose 300 pounds.”

Likely weighed more than 500 pounds when he started working at Zaxby’s. At the time, owners Scott and Troy Brown hired him for his attitude, knowing that he’d have a hard time keeping up in the kitchen.

But with encouragement from his co-workers and what he calls the “Zaxby’s fitness challenge,” his life is very different now. Approximately 1,000 people are following his story on social media.

In the beginning, he could only work four-hour shifts. Now, he starts his day in the gym, works eight-hour shifts, and is delighted that he can run side-by-side with the crew all day long.

When he first started working out, he could barely walk a mile on the treadmill. Now, he warms up for 1.5 miles on the treadmill, works out with weights, then cools down on the treadmill with another 1.5 miles.

“When I max-out to see how far I can go, I’m right at 3.5 miles, and I’m getting that within an hour. The changes in me are so different. It’s a great feeling, being healthy.”

There have been several milestones along the five-month journey. He no longer wears a size 8XL shirt, but is in a 3XL, with a 2XL in shooting distance.

“Now, I can actually buy clothes at Walmart, without having to go to a specialty store,” he said.

Sitting in a booth makes him feel good, too.

“Before, I could only sit at a table,” he said. “Now I feel like normal people.”

His diet is now largely good protein. He limits carbs, and tries to make those healthy carbs. When he slips, he said, he feels sluggish. He is still devoted to Zaxby’s zalads, and would love to become a spokesperson for the restaurant.

Being surrounded by good food during the holiday also was a challenge.

“It’s mind over matter,” he said. “I know what’s important. I’ve had cakes and fried chicken, and look where it got me.”

He has, in those months, had the opportunity to help others begin a weight loss journey. There are two people he has taken directly under his wing.

“One guy weighed 520 pounds,” he said. “I met him at Pic -N-Sav. His mind was exactly where he needed to be. Said he wanted to live.”

Likely went with him for his first weigh-in. He stays in touch, and is pleased that the man has lost 20 pounds this month.

“Another girl goes to the gym with me,” he said. “She started at 357 pounds. Started slower, because her health wasn’t where it needed to be, but she’s lost 15 pounds.

“These people say I inspire them, but they inspire me,” he said.

“It’s so inspirational that people are looking at me as motivation,” he said. “I never expected that. I love being able to help people.”

To those who have chosen losing weight as a New Year’s Resolution, he reiterates, “You can do it.”

He’d love to help, and encourages people to contact him in person or on social media.

“A lot of people come up with crazy resolutions, and it’s almost impossible to stick to it,” he said. “You’ve gotta go one day at a time. You’re not going to lose 100 pounds in one day. Plan a schedule to work out. You’ve got to get on a fitness schedule. It’s mind over matter, one day at a time.”

His goal for 2014 to is to another 100 pounds.

“I lost 100 pounds being active and doing what I need to do,” he said. “I want to lose another 100 pounds.”

While that sounds lofty, he needs to average about two pounds a week, or half of what he’s averaged in the past 19 weeks.

“It’s a continuous process. A journey,” Likely said. “Every day you wake up, you know what you gotta do.

“To be able to breathe and know I’m not limited? It’s amazing. I can’t wait until I get y’all guys’ size.

“Life is so different now,” Likely said. “I can’t wait for the next six months and the next six months after that.”