500-Pound Man Lost Half His Weight Because of Fast-Food Job

"You can do anything you put your mind to," “Tiny” Likely said.

ByABC News
July 21, 2015, 9:29 AM

— -- John “Tiny” Likely is a fry cook at fast-food chain Zaxby's, but you’d never know it looking at him now.

When the Alabaman took the job just 19 months ago, the 33-year-old was twice his size, weighing a whopping 500 pounds.

“During the day I could just see how he struggled,” Zaxby’s franchisee Scott Brown of Andalusia, Alabama, said on “Good Morning America.” “It made me hurt to watch him work, and I just thought, ‘You know we really need to do something.’”

So Likely’s co-workers at the chain restaurant famous for fried chicken fingers and wings decided it was time to help him make a change. His manager became his surrogate nutritionist and trainer, and Brown set him up with a gym membership. The entire staff cheered him on.

“[My] first thought was negative, [that] he's going to quit in a week,” Likely’s former manager Klint Short said on “GMA.” “But look at him now: 19 months down the road, he's still going. He encourages me; this guy doesn't give up. He's got an amazing attitude.”

Likely overhauled his diet, swapping fried chicken for grilled and always including a "zalad" with his meals, slowly whittling down to half his original weight. Now, even the simple act of putting on a seatbelt has him thankful.

“Guess what, man – 500-pound Tiny couldn't do that,” he said on “GMA.”

His hard work has even rubbed off on his co-worker and friend John Hammac.

“He's already helping me. We helped each other start going to the gym together, start working out, we just helped one another, and I needed him,” Hammac said on “GMA.”

His success has even caught the attention of “Extreme Weight Loss” trainer Chris Powell.

“I’m beyond proud of what you’ve accomplished in just 19 months,” Powell said on “GMA” in a message to Likely. “It’s extraordinary what you were able to do with hard work and sweat and a great support group. Keep up the good work. You’re inspiring me and millions of others.”

Now at 239 pounds, Likely is literally half his size. His recipe for success? A little help from his fast-food family.

“Everybody who chipped on the journey -- my Team Tiny family, my Andalusia [Alabama] family, my blood family -- I thank you,” Likely said. “You all believing in me made me believe in myself. You can do anything you put your mind to. Just because you’re one weight doesn’t mean you going end up that weight.”