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Young man loses 136 pounds in 18 months

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DESOTO, Kan. -- About one in seven college-aged adults in Kansas are not just overweight. They're obese. That's according to the new State of Obesity report. Eighteen months ago, a young DeSoto man was in that group, but not anymore.

Zach Stephens was a big child who loved fast food and hated exercise.

"I would always bawl and cry about going out for walks," Stephens said.

Football changed Stephens. He got in shape. But when a knee injury ended his junior college career, his weight ballooned to 355 pounds. Early last year, after surviving a car crash, Stephens had some heavy thoughts about obesity.

"My weight is a way of me losing my own life," he said.

His mother, Becky Stephens, said, "I think the real eye awakener was seeing his grandmother take her insulin and that scared him. He said I don't want to be like that."

Stephens started moving and hasn't stopped. Pound after pound dropped as he ran or lifted weights for an hour to 90 minutes every day. His gym, Great Life Fitness, is just a mile from his house.

"You don't have to go to a fancy gym. You can go somewhere that's right in your vicinity," he said.

The 22-year-old has more meals than before. He eats six a day, but they're small.

"That does keep me full throughout the entire day," he said.

In just 18 months, Stephens has lost 136 pounds. He's dropped from 355 pounds down to 219.

It's an amazing change on the outside, but he says what's happened inside will keep him going.

"I don't feel anxiety. I don't feel stress. I feel like I can go out and conquer anything now," Stephens said.

His mother says he's happy.

"He feels good about himself," she said.

Stephens has done it all while still going to college. He's studying to be a physical therapy assistant.

Stephens says there will be no going back. He says his passion now for running will help him keep the weight off. He'll run in a 10K this weekend in memory of his grandmother who died of diabetes complications this summer.

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