Kyle McCarty’s Christmas list two years ago was very short. It contained only one, very expensive gift. And when his mother saw it hanging on the fridge, she began to cry.
The overweight teenager asked for gastric bypass surgery, the same procedure his parents received some years earlier.
“She was like, ‘I know you really want this and we’ll do the best we can,” Mr. McCarty, now 18 years old and enlisted in the Marines Corps, recalled March 5 during an after-school workout session.
That moment began a long process in which, little by little, Mr. McCarty shed nearly half his body weight — some 165 pounds.
At age 16, the Baker County High School student tipped the scales at 340 pounds. He did little outside of school except play video games. It was painful to walk around campus. He was teased by classmates. He needed special chairs because he couldn’t fit into standard seats.
Now, all of that is in the past.
After asking his parents for the gastric bypass, also known as the stomach stapling surgery, they took him to see the same doctor who oversaw their surgeries when they each weighed more than 300 pounds.
The physician prescribed a diet of no more than 1000 calories a day and regular exercise.
“My parents literally, physically pushed me to do exercise,” Mr. McCarty said. “All I used to do, day and night, was play video games. I wouldn’t go outside for days at a time.”
The Macclenny teen soon dropped 15 pounds.
“After that first week, it just kept getting easier and easier,” he said.
Mr. McCarty went to see his doctor again. He’d lost 50 pounds at that point and the doctor refused to move ahead with the surgery. “He said you’re too young, we can’t give this to you,” Mr. McCarty recalled.
More time passed and the youth kept feeling better and better, physically and emotionally. Last September, he walked into a military recruiting office and enlisted in the Marines.
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