At his heaviest, Michael Ward weighed 454 pounds. On Saturday, he celebrated his halfway mark on the journey to get the excess weight off. He’s down by 102 pounds, with another 100 to go.
Ward set out to raise 100 pairs of shoes for the charity in observance of his losing 100 pounds.
During the event, he also enjoyed a walk, complete with two 50-pound dumbbells. The 100 pounds symbolizes what he was carrying around with him every day before his weight loss.
“It’s a reminder of what that was and we don’t want to go back,” Ward said.
Ward said he’s “always been a big guy” and that he lost people close to him who were young in years.
“I’ve had wakeup calls my entire life,” he said.
A friend died of a heart attack while in his 50s. When another friend died, it motivated him to lose at least 40 pounds. When his father-in-law had a sudden fatal heart attack at 59, he went on to lose 70 pounds. But it all came back.
This time, he said, he made up his mind to get healthier in order to live.
“I really don’t know what sparked it but back in August it was just a moment of clarity,” Ward said. “I’m getting older and I can have 15 more years or I can have 40 more years. Fifteen years wasn’t long enough, and I knew I had to change. That’s kind of what sparked this and what has been my driving product.”
Ward works out six times each week, working with a trainer three to four times.
He didn’t go on a special program. Instead, he slowly eliminated unhealthy foods from his diet, but he doesn’t feel deprived.
“For me, I’ll eat fried foods maybe once a month instead of two or three times a day,” he said.
Ward has had health problems along the way, including arthritis, sleep apnea and a heart condition called PVC. With his new lifestyle, he’s reduced his heart medication by half, the sleep apnea has improved greatly, and he isn’t as tired.
“I was winded just getting out of the car and going into the store,” he recalled. “It was just ridiculous.”
Ward said he had to be incentivized by overall health, more so than reaching a certain number on a scale.
“When you look at my journey, I started out needing to lose 220 pounds,” he said. “If I look at ‘I need to lose 220 pounds,’ that seems insurmountable. That’s another grown man that I’ve got to lose. Looking at it that way, it’s a battle that I don’t know I could win.
He added, “The weight loss is just a byproduct of me getting healthy. I tried not to focus so much on the weight that I’ve lost more than how I feel and becoming a healthier person.”
Rejuvenating his love of martial arts also keeps him mindful of his health goals. He participated in the sport as a child. His trainer, a black belt, will help him get back to it.
“I know I can’t do it with the body shape I’m in now,” he said.
Ward noted that a person has to be determined to fight for their goals themselves.
“It got to be totally from the inside,” he said. “There’s nothing anybody can ever tell you that will motivated you unless there’s something on the inside that will drive you.”