Actor Doc Shaw realized he needed to make drastic changes for health reasons came two years ago while he was with first lady Michelle Obama to promote her “Let’s Move” initiative.
The Atlanta native, who starred in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Disney’s Pair of Kings, was on stage with fellow actors encouraging healthy living at Disney World in Orlando.
“We have kids in the audience that look up to us, and I felt that I wasn’t walking the walk and talking the talk,” said Shaw, 22. “How could you be up there and say that and be overweight?”
At the time, he was 220 pounds and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. He decided he needed to make a change.
Shaw began researching ways to modify his lifestyle and began acting on them. Within a year and a half, he had lost 65 pounds.
Now Shaw is visiting schools across the country to motivate students to become conscientious of their eating habits and be more active.
Miami Gardens’ Carol City Middle School invited Shaw and his mother, Tammie, to speak to students as part of its “Be a Part of the Transformation” program to help them grow academically, emotionally and mentally.
Principal Sonia Romero said she believes healthy living information is essential for the students, 99 percent of which are economically disadvantaged.
“We have to educate the whole individual,” Romero said. “It is really what we have been charged with.”
At the middle school on a recent Friday afternoon, Shaw and his mother shared their experiences wrestling with weight issues and bullying.
Shaw told students they have the resources they need to become healthier.
“It is about using the tools that you have to work out correctly and eat properly,” he said. “Instead of downloading the game app ‘Flappy Bird’ to your iPhone, download an app that shows you where your local parks are.”
He said he used YouTube, Instagram and Twitter to look up healthy recipes and tips on workouts to do at home.
“I learned that I don’t have to go to the gym,” he said. “I can train by myself and build up my own confidence before I go to the gym.”
Shaw goes for hikes and runs, often inviting friends to join.
Losing weight has given Shaw immense self confidence, he said. A target “for every nickname out there,” Shaw didn’t have the self esteem growing up to stand up for himself.
“If you want to call me those names then fine, because I am now comfortable in my own skin,” Shaw said.
He said his progress has kept him encouraged throughout the process.
“There is something about mentally feeling stronger and physically seeing it that is really the motivation to keep going,” Shaw said.