Healthy Living
November 14, 2018 By Anne Bokma
Road to healing

At age 30, Rainier Ward (pictured above), a drug and alcohol addictions worker, has dealt with more than his share of challenges: He was severely bullied in grade school, began drinking at 13, and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his 20s. He experienced diabetes denial—his health got worse, and he felt so helpless he thought he might die. On top of all this, he has struggled with obesity for most of his life—at his heaviest, two years ago, he weighed 585 pounds. “When you are big, you feel people are always judging you,” he says.

And yet this First Nations man from Metepenagiag, a Mi’kmaq community just west of Miramichi in New Brunswick, has made a remarkable turnaround in his life. He has been sober for 10 years, and has lost almost 150 pounds in the past 18 months with a new diet and exercise regimen. “I used to have a hard time just walking up steps, but now my body can do things I never thought it could do—including skipping, jumping jacks, and weightlifting,” he says. (The journey continues: You can follow his progress on Instagram.)

As well, Ward has become an unofficial spokesperson for Diabetes Canada’s Live Well | Bien Vivre health coaching program. Through presentations he makes to groups in First Nations communities as well as his Instagram feed, he is spreading a message of hope and recovery to other First Nations people who are struggling with addiction issues and/or diabetes management challenges. Ward, who this year received a Diabetes Canada Kurt Kroesen Inspiration Award (to recognize those who have overcome great odds to manage their diabetes and who continue to live a fulfilling, active and inspiring life), is also featured in a video about his journey, which was created by Live Well | Bien Vivre.

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