Knoxville man used to weigh 555 pounds, now an inspiration to ot

Knoxville man used to weigh 555 pounds, now an inspiration to others and needs your help

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"There isn't life at 555 pounds. I mean, if I'm going to be honest, I was a shut-in," said Stephen. "There isn't life at 555 pounds. I mean, if I'm going to be honest, I was a shut-in," said Stephen.
Stephen can easily step with both feet into one leg of his old boxers. Stephen can easily step with both feet into one leg of his old boxers.
Stephen weighed 555 pounds not that long ago and is now literally half the guy he used to be. Stephen weighed 555 pounds not that long ago and is now literally half the guy he used to be.
By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's an amazing story.

A Knoxville man who weighed 555 pounds not that long ago is now literally half the guy he used to be.

When we asked him what 555 pounds feels like, this was Stephen's response: "There isn't life at 555 pounds. I mean, if I'm going to be honest, I was a shut-in."

His size 6XL shirt was tight at the time. It can swallow him now.

And he can easily step with both feet into one leg of his old boxers.

Stephen marvels, "How's that? Wow, this is what I would wear, underwear-wise."

Stephen was out of control. He shared something with us he has never admitted, at least not publicly.

"I've never told this to anybody. I would go to Taco Bell and I would order 5 or 6 dollars worth of Taco Bell which isn't a whole lot of food but then I would drive to Wendy's and order the rest of my dinner. So I would get a value meal at two different places and eat that."

Stephen had Type 2 diabetes, was on morphine for back pain, had severe obstructive sleep apnea, and suffered from depression.

"My doctor looked at me and he said, 'Look, you're not going to be around for more than a year if  you don't do something.'"

Gastric bypass surgery on April 1st, 2013 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center helped Stephen start dropping massive amounts of weight.

Tuesday, Stephen embraces a healthy lifestyle with regular workouts at Planet Fitness. He has also taken part in some 5k races and has made a dramatic change in his diet.

But 60 pounds of extra skin is getting in the way of his daily life, and causes painful infections.

Stephen points to sagging skin on his upper arms, stomach, upper legs and back.

"There's no nice way of saying it," he explains. "(Skin) literally just flying and hitting you."

While insurance covered his gastric bypass, it won't pay for surgical removal of the extra skin.

Stephen has started a gofundme page to raise the $25,000 for three separate operations his doctor says he will need.

He's thankful that donations are already starting to come in, and says he'll pay it forward by continuing to share his story.

"If one, one lesson I can teach anyone about anything, about weight loss, inspire someone, then the whole journey's been worth it to me because I had given up on life essentially."

If you'd like to help Stephen, here is a link to his gofundme at http://www.gofundme.com/9lw8pg.

Follow Stephen on his journey through his blog at  http://www.findinglean.com/2014/07/03/the-struggle-is-real/
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