Thanks to the help of a young friend, former Lakeview Elementary School teacher Jamie Lee is on a mission to get down to his fighting weight.
Lee left Lakeview in 2008 when his middle child's health issues took precedence. "Our son Ethan was born without the left side of his heart," he said. "He was missing eight or nine weeks of school each year and I needed to stay home."
Although the decision gave Lee more quality time with his son, staying home allowed him to be more inactive and eat junk food. "I was always a bigger guy. I probably weighed about 300 pounds then, but over the next couple years I gained about 200 pounds. It was a lot of stress eating and sitting around the house," he explained.
The son of a family friend stepped in last year to help Lee make a needed change. "These friends are more like family. Zack (Garringer) who was 14-years-old at the time said to me, 'I care about you. We have to get this weight off you or else you aren't going to be here.'"
Garringer, now 15, aspires to go to college to be an athletic trainer. "I've never seen a kid this focused," Lee said. "He said he wanted to train me, so that's what we started."
Garringer, who plays football, wrestles and runs track at Mt. Juliet Middle School, said that exercise was not just good for the body. "I believe it is good emotionally, mentally and physically," he said.
Seven months into the weight-loss plan Garringer made for him, Lee has already lost 108 pounds. Their first goal is to get Lee back down to 300 - which he said he will reach in the next few months. Lee's overall goal is to hit the 200-pound mark.
"We work out about an hour each day, doing different things - squats, lifting weights - it rotates each day," he said. On days that Garringer cannot workout with Lee, he sends a text detailing a workout routine.
Lee currently eats 1,500 to 2,000 calories daily, in a health plan modeled after the Weight Watchers point system.
Lee added that not only his weight loss has made this a better year. His son Ethan received a heart transplant in 2014.
Readers can follow Lee's journey on Garringer's recently created Twitter account @zpgbody.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.