WHEN JEFFERY Woods’ wife gifted him an expensive t-shirt he said, “I put it on, it looked horrible and I felt so bad”. Instead
of returning the shirt, he hung it in his closet as motivation to get back into shape.
Over the course of one year, the 42-year- old father of two was able to transform from a flabby 245 pounds back to the lean 187-pound athletic build he had as a high school athlete.
As a young boy in high school, Jef- fery Woods had a dream to make it to the 1992 Olympics. In pursuit of his dream, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Rhode Island (URI), where he earned All American Honors in the 400 Hurdles in 1991. While at URI, Woods held 16 school records in nine events and won 16 New England titles in eight events. Woods was also the 2x New England Track & Field Athlete of the Year and in 1992, he received URI’s highest athletic award.
Although he did not make it to the 1992 Olympics, partly due to a foot injury, in 1995 he completed the Marine Corp Marathon, which was his first 26.2 miler. While training for his second marathon the following year, his life was changed physically, mentally and spiritually during a flag foot- ball championship game in Maryland. He collapsed on the field and spent a month in the hospital being probed and prodded in order to identify the cause. Woods was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia and a cardiac defibrillator was implanted.
The diagnosis was odd considering Woods’ track and field background. After receiving multiple shocks while sleeping, Woods went to another hospital for a second opinion where he was diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, a potentially life threatening illness. During that time 98% of the cases involved pulmonary organs. Unfortunately for some, 98% of the time, cardiac sarcoidosis was diagnosed post
mortem. Ultimately doc- tors concurred, the only reason he survived was due to his level of fitness.
However, as a result of medications, non-activity, poor diet and depression, Woods went from a lean 175 pounds to a whopping
245 pounds with a 38-inch waist! The weight gain was a nemesis for years and proved to be a formida- ble one at that. For many years, he struggled with the weight, and because of his appearance, he refrained from visiting public pools.
Finally in 2010, Woods decided he needed to get back in shape. He first
started with his diet, elimi- nating all sugars, processed foods and all products containing enriched flour. This coupled with Insanity, an exercise program consist- ing of cardio and weight training he found the winning formula to transform his 42-year-old body back into competition shape.
In 2011 he returned to URI to compete in the Alumni Track Meet, competing in three events. Woods is now lean at 195 lbs with his high school, 32-inch waist. He is also competing in his fourth Marine Corp Marathon this October.
Illness, depression and poor self-image can be combated with good diet and consistent exercise reg- iment. Woods encourages others to create a plan, and “Live Life with Purpose.” He has energized his life through fitness to ensure he has every opportunity to enjoy his family and re- main healthy.
Jeffery Woods, PhD, is the Indianapolis Regional Director for The Expecta- tion Project, an adjunct professor at Indiana Wes- leyan and the Founding Executive Director of Fathers 4 Futures.