Change of course makes principal a better, healthier person
“It’s a lifestyle change for me, and I like who I am.”
Life was closing in on Ahmed White in ways the Smithson Craighead Academy principal could no longer ignore.
Once a college athlete, he had continued to eat like one years later. But without the physical activity to keep pace, the inevitable happened.
“I really gained a lot of weight,” Ahmed admits.
He had slowed down and his medical problems were becoming serious. He was regularly seeing a cardiologist, and soon added a kidney specialist. Arthritis wracked his hips.
And Ahmed, a family man, wasn’t living up to his promise to himself to be the best father he could to the four sons he and his wife lovingly adopted.
“I didn’t have the energy to play ball. I didn’t have the energy to be around my children,” he says.
A visit to his parents proved pivotal. Ahmed’s father, who never smoked or drank, now needed a walker.
“My dad couldn’t go from one room to the next without losing his breath,” he says. “He was almost ready to pass out.”
His father’s array of prescriptions also got Ahmed’s attention.
“When I saw all the meds my dad was taking at 75, and I’m taking the same amount at 44 or 45 — I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to be that person for my children.”
Luckily, Ahmed had heard about the 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge through friends and signed up. (The program is offered at no cost to men enrolled in the MNPS Certificated Health Plan.)
Ahmed learned that despite his genetics, he didn’t have to suffer his father’s fate. The program focuses on a whole food, plant-rich diet to help control blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and waist size. The men in each group find ways to improve their mindset and identify triggers that spark unhealthy behaviors. They learn about nutrition from evidence-based sources and how sleep and exercise play a role.
“I’m now a lot better,” Ahmed says. “My mental disposition is better. I’m more positive.”
He’s lost enough weight that he finally had to buy a new belt instead of punching more holes in the old one.
“And then little things started happening,” he adds. “I wanted to go shopping. I wanted to buy clothes.”
Ahmed now is there for his boys in the ways he wanted to be, playing outdoors with them rather than sitting on the couch. Work is better, too. He now walks a lot at school and moves easily in and out of classrooms. His smartwatch keeps count of his steps.
“I love this journey. I’m really excited,” Ahmed says. “I’m just a better person to be around.”
Men's 90-Day Health Challenge participant