Larry Smith’s desire to make sure he’s alive to watch his grandchildren grow up was his light bulb moment.
“I was on the path to not living old and this bothered me,” he said. “I want to live long enough to see my young grandkids reach big milestones like graduate from school and get married, or even enjoy simple activities like playing in the yard with them. My grandkids mean the world to me.”
The 63-year-old epidemiologist from Jackson, Mississippi, recently dropped 58 pounds in a 12-week fitness challenge involving 200 people from the Mississippi governor’s office, state legislature workers and civilians.
“When they announced I was the winner of the challenge, it was a very emotional experience for me,” Smith said.
“I’ve never won any kind of athletic event, and it felt like a huge achievement to do it,” he said.
Smith, who is 5-foot-10, started the boot camp at 261 pounds and with much hesitation.
“During the first day of the program I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it because it felt very intimidating and I worried about my weak knees,” he said.
Smith has struggled with his weight most of his adult life. Before the fitness program, he led a very sedentary lifestyle. He often felt sluggish, lacked energy and felt “miserable.” He always dreamed of losing weight, but kept putting it off.
“By nature, I think many people are procrastinators, and losing weight was something I always wanted to do but was on my procrastination list,” he said.
The grandfather of three said an e-mail in his work inbox announcing the “Fit 4 Change Mississippi Fitness Challenge” was the final push he needed to jumpstart his journey toward a healthier lifestyle.
“I had known people who participated in the challenge last year and were successful at it, so I thought I’d give it a try,” he said. “I thought it would be worth it for both me and my grandkids.”