A Texas man lost more than 140 pounds in a year by eating Chick-fil-A

‘My local Chick-fil-A knew my first and last name’

When Alton Ward was just eight years old, he was diagnosed with morbid obesity. His doctor encouraged him to diet and lose weight, even in elementary school, but nothing worked for him. He tried all the fad diets, went on Jenny Craig and even went to fat camp, but nothing worked.

That is, until he turned to Chick-fil-A in college. Here he tells the story of how he went from 352 pounds to 190 pounds and changed his life.

When Alton was morbidly obese before getting fit and healthy in college.

When Alton was morbidly obese before getting fit and healthy in college.

How did your weight issues start, especially at such a young age?

I’m from Texas, south of the Houston area, and the culture growing up was all about eating. We’d eat fried food, we’d eat as much as we wanted and all the people were obese, including my parents and family.

I just did what my parents did. We ate out every single meal, either pizza or fried chicken, and we didn’t exercise. Being in Texas, it wasn’t just my family, it was all of our neighbors and everyone around us. I know that my weight problems have to do with Texas and the culture down there.

Alton as a child.

Alton as an overweight child.

When did you turn things around?

It wasn’t until I got to college, at 19 years old, that I decided I needed to start eating healthy and working out with cardio and strength training throughout the week. That’s when I started eating Chick-fil-A and switched from the fried chicken strips and fries to some of the healthy options. For over a year, I would go and eat something like the grilled chicken salad and then do 45 minutes of cardio and lift some weights in the evening.

My local Chick-fil-A knew my name – first and last – because I went there at least three or four times a week. I was one of its biggest fans and advocates. I would get the chicken wrap or the soup or the grilled chicken sandwich – any of the healthier options they have. By doing that in combination with my exercise, I lost about 140 pounds in a year. I contribute most of my weight loss success to Chick-fil-A. It was the first thing that actually worked for me.

I was able to get down to a normal body weight and live a healthy life. I don’t have any of the complications that came with my obesity. No more high blood pressure and no more high cholesterol.

Alton today at age 25.

Alton today at age 25.

Do you still go to Chick-fil-A a lot?

Yes! I live in Denver, Colorado, now and am right across the street from a Chick-fil-A. I go there all the time. I eat there repeatedly throughout the week. The manager knows my story and once a month I can go in and get a free meal. I’m one of the restaurant’s biggest fans. I love sharing my story with others.

How have you shared your story in your community?

I have a heart for kids, especially kids who have weight challenges. I go throughout the area – most of the time I’m requested by churches, youth camps or different youth ministries. I talk to the kids about healthy living, fruits and veggies, and not just about being knowledgeable about what to do and what not to do, but how to make it practical in their everyday lives. Especially in the South and in Texas, I have a wider audience. Most of the kids are big because they emulate what they see their parents and family members doing.

My motto for life, whether its professionally at my job or being healthy in my life, is to live vibrantly. It can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Hiking has become one of Alton's favorite ways to stay in shape.

Hiking has become one of Alton’s favorite ways to stay in shape.

You’re no longer living in Texas or the South. How has your lifestyle changed since you’ve moved to Denver?

I drink way more water here because of the elevation. I do different exercises now, too. For the next three or four months, I’ll be hiking in the mountains every weekend. That wasn’t an option where I lived in Texas. I’ve learned how to ski and snowboard, so now I can do winter sports and activities that count as exercise but also are a lot of fun.

So, what’s your favorite meal at Chick-fil-A?

It’s changed, but right now its the Southwest salad with thousand island dressing. And I shouldn’t drink this, but it’s my favorite: the Chick-fil-A diet lemonade with no ice.