Alabama Man's Life-Changing Weight Loss Began At A Fast Food Restaurant

| by Nik Bonopartis
John "Tiny" Likely.John "Tiny" Likely.

He used to weigh a quarter of a ton. Now he shows off his bulging biceps.

For 33-year-old John "Tiny" Likely, life has changed dramatically since he shed more than half his body weight of 500 pounds, and it's all thanks to the staff at a fast food restaurant.

In late 2013, the owner of a Zaxby's in Andalusia, Alabama, hired Likely as a fry cook, according to Likely says he couldn't keep up, couldn't fit into the Zaxby's uniform, and couldn't even stand at his station for more than 10 minutes at a time.

“During the day I could just see how he struggled,” Scott Brown, owner of the Andalusia Zaxby's, told ABC News.” “It made me hurt to watch him work, and I just thought, ‘You know we really need to do something.’”

Brown got Likely a gym membership, then-manager Klint Short became Likely's physical trainer, and co-worker O.T. Green became the in-house nutritionist, passing along things he'd learned as a football player and in his high school anatomy class.

Not only did Likely's co-workers help him work out and choose healthy meals, they also helped him remain vigilant, keeping Likely away from the fried food on days he was struggling. As of December, he weighs 239 pounds, but has more to lose.

Now Likely is a local celebrity: He has appeared on "Good Morning America," he's turned heads with his dramatic weight loss, and he's even got a fan club through Facebook and his own website, On the site, he keeps a blog in which he writes about everything from healthy homemade smoothies to maintaining commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

"I barely could walk, I barely could breathe, life was a nightmare. I weighed more than 500 pounds and I found comfort and savior in a fast food restaurant," Likely wrote on his website. "I managed to eat better so I could keep up with my team at work and by making small changes I was beginning to see big results."

In the meantime, Likely has become a motivator, telling people that if he could dramatically change his life with weight loss, anyone can do it with determination. He also preaches the benefits of healthy food, like salads, fruits, eggs and grilled chicken.

During his "Good Morning America" appearance in July,  Likely received props from Chris Powell -- the personal trainer behind ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" -- for inspiring others. But he also made sure he shared the credit with his fast food friends who got him started on the healthy path.

“Everybody who chipped on the journey -- my Team Tiny family, my Andalusia 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.”

Sources:, ABC News, TeamTiny81 / Photo source John Likely via: