Grayson Pettigrew was nine years old when he had his first drink. He drank, he says, to blunt the pain of the physical abuse he suffered in his own home. By the time Grayson turned 21, he’d blown two opportunities at college and was an alcoholic and drug user.
Things improved for a while after Grayson joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He got married, had two kids, enjoyed his job and owned a house and two cars. But eventually, he began selling and using drugs again. In late 2007, he was diagnosed with muscular sclerosis.
“Not being physically able to work, depression set in and the drinking continued,” Grayson said. “I became a 248-pound, self-loathing disaster. By 2011, I was drinking a gallon of vodka a day. I needed crutches to get around due to the MS, and I fell and broke my foot and needed surgery. I was also diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.”
The downward spiral continued. In 2012, Grayson had both hips replaced. He tried to get sober at several treatment centers, but failed. His future appeared anything but bright.
Motivated to do something positive with his life, and to set a good example for his children, Grayson began a dramatic lifestyle change nearly four years ago that he proudly maintains to this very day.
“My kids experienced me selling drugs and smoking coke,” Grayson said. “They witnessed the deterioration of my mind and body [due to] unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, mainly booze. I needed to make big changes.”
He quit smoking and drinking, and started eating healthier. He found hope and inspiration in others.
“My body needed to catch up with my mental and spiritual growth,” Grayson said. “Being active and exercising has helped change my self-image and my feelings of inadequacy. For nearly three years I’ve consistently exercised at the gym and the physical changes are evident. I’ve also gone from five high blood pressure medications to one, and I’ve reduced my diabetic medications significantly as well. At this rate, I soon won’t need any medications.”
“Grayson is one of the most popular members of our gym,” Eric says. “He makes friends with everyone and always stays connected with us.”
He also frequently visits schools and speaks with young students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse—and the obstacles he needed to overcome to turn his life around.
“He talks about leading a healthy lifestyle through exercise,” Eric says. “He tells the students that exercise has not only helped him physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. It’s a great thing he does to try and give back and help others.”
When he’s at the gym, Grayson spends most of his time lifting weights or on an elliptical machine—sometimes doing both during a single training session. The results? He’s lost more than 60 pounds and his body fat has dropped from 22% to 15.7%.
More importantly, Grayson says, he’s become a much better father—and he finally finished that college degree he was working on, making the Dean’s List twice and graduating with a 3.76 grade point average.