LUMBERTON — Joshua Currier is half the man he was two years ago.
During that time, Currier went from entering competitive eating competitions to winning weight-loss competitions. He won the ZP Challenge twice for his weight loss and and a total of $125,000.
The journey started in January 2015 when Currier weighed 520 pounds. After a life of using food as a crutch, he ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. He was put on seven medications.
“Life in general was crushing down on me,” Currier said. “I wasn’t fully well. I wasn’t well.”
His mother didn’t encourage him eat healthy when he was growing up in Marietta, Currier said. He grew up poor and his mother bought processed food.
“Healthy food is expensive,” he said.
After his hospital stay, Currier began walking at the gym and doing water aerobics. He lost about 100 pounds but during the holidays, he gained it back.
During a visit to Lego KidsFest in Charlotte, Currier found himself unable to play with his adopted, son, T.J., barely able to walk.
It was time for a change.
“If the summertime is gonna come and he wants to play, I gotta be able to be in shape,” he said. “I basically told my wife I need to stop messing around and just go for it. That next day, Monday, was a new day. A new person was born.”
Currier was working at Walmart, but struggling financially because of lost time due to his health. He started going to a fitness center, where he would walk laps and do water aerobics. Even getting to the gym was a struggle, as he had no car and had to depend on friends and public transporation.
He was on a lunch break at Walmart when he saw a ZP book on a break-room table. He weighed 452 pounds at the time.
ZP Challenge is sponsored by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. It is an app that helps people make better choices in four categories: food, fitness, family and money. For 21 days people can make compete in any of categories, use the app to document those choices, and be eligible to win money.
“It’s about making changes no matter how small,” said Denise Crowley, a ZP Guide.
The ZP challenge is a way for people to stay proactive and document the choices they make day to day.
It can be as small as choosing to spend time with family or deciding to take a walk, Crowley said.
After picking up the ZP Challenge book, Currier told himself, “I might as well see if I could win this. What else is there to lose?”
“There’s healthier options at restaurants but it’s up to us to choose what we want to do. It’s a choice and everybody’s got to make that choice.” Currier said. “That’s what ZP does. It gives you the chance to make better choices.”
At one point he ate only salads for six months. In the summer of 2016 he started doing more water aerobics and walking until he got to the point where he could jog.
Every time he wanted to eat junk food or drink a soda, he thought about his wife Gloria and son, Currier said.
“Is that soda or that doughnut more important than my son or my wife? I had to think about that,” he said.
Currier doesn’t call his weight loss dieting — it’s a lifestyle change.
“You gotta learn new ways. You gotta teach yourself,” he said.
When the challenge ended on Aug. 30, 2016, Currier had lost 157 pounds, putting him at 295 pounds. His coworkers surprised him at work and presented him with a $25,000 check.
“When I finally heard the managers talk about ZP, I knew,” he said. “I started tearing up and started getting nervous because it was happening. I was waiting for it for so long.”
He went to Durham with his wife to be photographed and filmed for a ZP promotion, Currier said. While he was filming they announced he had won the ZP grand prize $100,000.
“I had to ask them to to tell me three times. I heard it but I didn’t believe it,” he said.
He received a lot of encouragement from people at the gym and his church at the time Hyde Park Baptist Church Currier said. But his biggest supporter was his wife.
Currier said he wants to be inspire as many people as he can, and tell them about the ZP Challenge.
“I think a lot of these stories don’t get made public. I would like to be a silver lining or ray of hope,” Currier said.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair at 910-416-5865