LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – From taking countless medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol to now running half marathons and triathlons, one Central Arkansas man credits a Baptist Health surgery with completely transforming his quality of life.

As Gerald Ledford flips through old pictures, even he can’t believe the difference one surgery and ten months can make.

“I was 393 at my highest weight,” Ledford said “I was on four blood pressure pills every single day. I was on a high cholesterol pill. I had sleep apnea.”

He’s dealt with health issues like those his whole life and that’s what pushed him into meeting with Baptist Health Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Eric Michael Paul.

“We talk about benefits of the surgery,” Dr. Paul said. “We talk about the risks of the surgery and then we decide like what surgery each patient is right for.”

“I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do,” Ledford said.

In August, Dr. Paul performed a sleeve gastrectomy on Ledford.

“It’s amazing how much better I feel after having the surgery,” Ledford said.

He’s not just feeling the results but seeing them too.

Ledford was no stranger to 5K’s and half marathons before the surgery.

“It used to take me about three hours and 48 minutes,” Ledford said. “Well now that I’ve lost 100 lbs. I walk and jog, I walk a minute and I jog a minute and I finished the Little Rock Marathon at 3:02. I didn’t think I would ever be faster. I thought well this is the speed I’m always going to be at.”

He is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, he’s picking up a new race.

“I have signed up for five triathlons this summer,” Ledford said.

As Ledford gears up for his next competition, he says this surgery already has him feeling like he’s crossed the finish line.

“I haven’t looked back at all,” Ledford said. “I tell everyone, it saved my life and it can save your life too.”