Romar Lyle always dreamt of becoming a police officer, but as he started graduate school, he began to worry his weight would get in the way of making his dream come true.

At his heaviest, Lyle weighed more than 400 pounds and got used to the idea of a career in a forensics lab.

He was working as a graduate teaching assistant, but struggled to make friends. One day, his supervisor invited him to try out his gym. He was willing but skeptical.

The run that started Lyle’s journey

“I was just waiting for everyone to laugh at me,” Lyle, now 26, told TODAY.

“The workout was to run 400 meters and they told me to run 100 meters, just go down to the sign and come back. I remember running and a few steps in, I was out of breath. And I was like, ‘Here comes everyone laughing.’ I was so embarrassed.”

But to his surprise, Lyle didn’t hear any laughing. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

“All they were saying was ‘Keep going! I know it’s hard, keep going, you’re doing great!’” Lyle remembered.

As he ran slowly and had difficulty breathing, the coaches started running with him and cheered him on. Taken aback by how supportive everyone, he felt motivated to keep going to the gym.

“It wasn’t about the weight loss,” Lyle said. “It was about having a good time and doing something new and seeing what I could do every single day, whether it was to lift a little heavier or run a little bit further.”

The transformation began

Romar Lyle

Soon, Lyle started feeling different and started to notice how his body was changing.

“I lost all this weight and it didn’t feel as hard as I thought it would be,” he said. “I genuinely enjoyed what I did.”

Sometimes, he’d gain some of the weight he lost back because of his unhealthy eating habits but his coaches helped him make changes to his diet and learned to enjoy them.

“My coach kind of said, ‘Hey you don’t need to stop eating everything you enjoy,’” he explained. “So, I thought, ‘How can I make the dishes that I am used to in a healthier way?’”

After Lyle had gone six months without eating junk food when he had a fast food chicken sandwich, and when he felt ill afterwards, he realized it wasn’t only his weight that was changing.

“I just got so sick,” Lyle said. “My body wasn’t used to it anymore. It made it so much easier to say, ‘I’m not that person anymore. I am focusing on a healthier me.’”

His dream became possible

Since 2015, Lyle has lost 184 pounds, 30 of which he dropped during the seven months he studied at the police academy. He spends about an hour and a half at the gym most days and makes sure to get in some exercise every day, even if it means just talking a walk. He now weighs 222 pounds.

Lyle graduated from the academy and turned his dream into a reality: he currently serves as a police officer for the Richmond Police Department in Virginia.

“Having the physical ability to do those things pushed me further to say, ‘Yes I want to lose the weight. Yes this is where I want to be,’” said Lyle. “I have learned to re-embrace a challenge and not to quit.”

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