MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - Ashlyn Conway has always had the comfort of family but the 12-year-old has never been comfortable in her own skin.
"In the beginning of the year, I would always wear a jacket because I hated people seeing my, like, I hate people seeing my arms and stuff," she said.
Ashlyn has struggled with weight her entire life, but becoming a teenager made it worse. She just didn't fit.
"It was hard because I would have to go in the women's section to get clothes. I couldn't fit in anything," she said.
And the bullies were beyond cruel.
"Someone actually told me I'm too fat to live so I should kill myself," Ashlyn said. "I got a little bit of a temper and there are times I want to go and rap some heads. But as adults you just have to, just you can't do anything about it."
Her mom and dad didn't know what to do. "It's hard because you want to do what you can do for your child."
But it was a school nurse who stepped in with a solution.
"At first I was kind of embarrassed and upset because no one has ever really confronted me about it, except like my doctor," Ashlyn said.
With time, she understood a little more about why her school nurse intervened.
"I kind of felt happy, because someone actually wanted to help."
The nurse introduced her to a whole new world - Louie's Kids - a place where other overweight teens were getting in shape. Finally, she had a place where she fit.
"When she came home and gave me the application for Louie's Kids and she was real excited about it, we just kind of said, 'Okay. If you're going to do this, we're behind you,'" said Ashlyn's mom.
The recipe for success she learned at Louie's Kids was followed at home.
"Looking at all the sugars that we used to eat, all the fat that was in there," Ashlyn said. "You just kind of drop your jaws and like I can't believe I used to eat that."
Dad gave up Dr. Pepper and meals were no longer eaten on the road. It has done more than trim pounds and inches from waistlines.
"Just watching her grow and watching her come out of her shell has brought us closer together," he said.
Ashlyn not only lost weight, she lost the negative voiced pounding inside her head.
"I joined fit club and in the first few weeks I wanted to give up," she said. "I just thought it was too hard. I was putting myself down, I was telling myself, 'I can't do this. I'm always going to be overweight.'"
She had unfortunately come to believe what others had long ago.
"I feel like with the progress I have made, it's become a lot easier to talk about it because I've kind of shown myself that I can do it, like, I can lose the weight that I want to and I can be the person I want to," Ashlyn said.
Each pound lost filled her with confidence.
"When I first started sixth grade, someone would make fun of me and I'd think about it all day and all week, now I let it slide," she said.
Ashlyn's pride in her accomplishments has freed her to be herself.
"I just want her to be Ashlyn, the loving, caring person she's always been," her mom said.