COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Childhood obesity is a huge issue in Georgia, and children are even getting adult diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
Georgia is the second most obese in the nation, and more than 30 percent of our state's children ages 10-17 years old stand as obese or heavyweight, according to recent study.
Michael Grier is a 22-year-old college student who managed to lose 100 pounds in 2011. He struggled with childhood obesity, and Michael faced many issues because of his weight. He went from being over 300 pounds to 205 pounds, and Michael has managed to keep his weight for three years now.
"I was insecure," Michael explained. "I had people tease me all my life commenting on my weight. I tried to diffuse the tension by telling jokes or laughing it off, but it still hurt me growing up."
After high school, Michael went to go see a doctor who told him that he needed to lose weight.
"If I gained any more weight, I was going to have high blood pressure," Michael said. "The doctor told me that I was losing ten pounds when I picked up playing basketball. So I kept up the work."
Michael played basketball for hours and worked out more than five days a week to lose weight. He said family and friends around him discouraged him at first by telling Michael that he wasn't losing any weight.
"I knew I was losing weight though," Michael said. "My waist slimmed down, my pants were getting too big. I told my mom and she told me that I seemed the same. But I wanted to prove her and other doubters wrong. I knew I could do this."
While many people assume that Michael might have hired a personal trainer or pay for a nutritionist to reach his weight now, Michael did everything on his own. Michael just stopped drinking sodas, eating junk food and started making healthier choices. Instead of eating a burger, Michael would consume two turkey sandwiches instead. He also worked out in a gym or played basketball with his friends until he was drenched in sweat.
"I could squeeze sweat from my workout shirts," Michael added. "That's how intense I made sure my workouts were."
Michael said once he shed the pounds, life was different for him. People started to notice him more and give him respect. Michael also inspired his father to work out and lose 15 pounds as well.
"I think about my son whenever I start working out or I go for a walk," Michael Grier Sr. said. "If he can lose 100 pounds, I can definitely manage to lose 20 pounds."
Michael also explained that he hopes his story will inspire other children dealing with childhood obesity to overcome their unhealthy eating habits.
"Size is not the problem. It's not that being big is a bad thing," Michael explained. "However, practicing an unhealthy lifestyle is not good. I want children to be active, so they do not have to go through the humiliation I went through."
Michael said parents need to be aware of the food they consume and feed their children, since kids pick up their parents' eating habits most of the time.
"I remember when I was obese and could not ride any roller coasters whenever I went to theme parks," Michael recalls. "It was embarrassing when people told me I had to get off and watch from the side because I could not fit. But look at me now- it's possible. For all children who are insecure because of their unhealthy weight, I want them to know that they can start exercising today."
Michael said it is important to understand that losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle comes with time. It is a process, and people should not expect to reach their dream weight in a short span of time. It took Michael a year to lose 100 pounds with exercise and healthy eating habits.
"No one has to suffer humiliation," Michael said. "Trust me, I've been there. Do not let others discourage you. You can fix your problems and be who you want to be."