Two years ago, Kyle Williams was a 16-year-old who stood 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds. "People picked on me so much with fat jokes I became a quiet type," he says.
After slimming down from a size 50 to a 36-inch waist, the 18-year-old weighs 192 pounds.
Heavy since he was 6, Kyle had spent most of his time at home, watching TV, playing video games and eating. Then he decided to do something about it. "I was disappointed in how I looked," he explains. "I knew I couldn't get friends because I wasn't attractive."
So Kyle started frequenting the Christian Street YMCA in South Philadelphia, a half-mile from his house. Under the tutelage of a Y trainer, he started burning calories on cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills and stair climbers. Several months later he started lifting weights, too.
Working out five or six days a week is hard, he concedes. "But if I got lazy and stopped, I knew I'd have to start all over again, and I kept picturing myself and how thin I would be in two years."
When cousins began noticing his weight loss several months later, "It motivated me to continue working my hardest to lose as much weight and stay as healthy as I could."
Except on rare occasions, once-favorite foods such as pizza and Philadelphia cheesesteaks also have become history. Likewise chips and candy.
Kyle's mother, who bought him his Y membership, stopped buying such foods so he wouldn't be tempted. Fruit - bananas, apples, plums, peaches - became his snack food. And instead of greasy takeout food, Kyle and his mom now prefer home-cooked meals such as skinless chicken and vegetables.
His advice to other overweight youths: "If kids pick on you constantly, turn that memory to your advantage. If you try hard and work your best at it, you can do anything."