While Peggy Ward enjoyed maintaining her fitness, particularly to stay in shape, she was never too serious about it. However in 2009, Peggy was faced with an unexpected event that would change her life forever. Though she didn’t realise it at first, fitness would be just the thing she needed to help her through the loss.
At only 45, her husband, Enos, passed away while he was stationed in Iraq. Peggy said losing him so far from home took its toll on her.
“I was here planning our future and looking forward to him coming home, then overnight, things changed,” she says.
“I went through some dark times. Daily I felt like I was drowning in life and that I would never be able to catch my breath.”
Peggy received help and advice from doctors, however she only saw it as a temporary fix for a permanent problem.
“The doctors gave me medication to help me through this time in my life, but to me, that was just a temporary fix, a Band-Aid for the pain from my broken heart,” she says.
“I felt I needed to go through the emotions and deal with things head on, I also knew I couldn’t let it consume me.”
Throughout this time, Peggy’s faith and her family and friends were there for her, however she still could not cope with the pain and her physical health began to suffer.
“Despite all the help I was receiving from friends and loved ones, I lost weight, I was losing my hair, I wasn’t sleeping, and I would just cry at the drop of a hat. I couldn’t understand why this happened to me,” she says.
The deterioration of her health began to make Peggy realise that no matter how tough her situation may be she had to find a way to deal with the pain.
Peggy began attending counselling. During one of her sessions, the counsellor asked Peggy to list some of the things she liked doing for herself or with her husband.
“I told her we worked out together and we enjoyed it. We liked pushing each other to meet our goals in life. My counsellor advised me to use physical fitness as my outlet,” she says.
Shortly after this session, a friend of Peggy’s said something to her that really stuck.
“That hit home for me and to this day, I still have to stop and repeat it to myself every now and then.”
Peggy began using the gym as her outlet and not long after that a friend of hers asked her to attend a fitness competition with her.
“I fell in love with the discipline and dedication that all the competitors displayed. I was looking at these women in their 40s and 50s and said to myself ‘if they can do it so can I!’” she says.
In 2013, Peggy joined Team Banks, owned and operated by IFFB Pro Lee Banks. She put all her emotions and feelings into training and used it as her source of therapy.
“As time passed I started feeling better physically, and more importantly, emotionally.”
“At the age of 47, I entered my first bikini competition. Wow – what an experience that was to set a goal in my life that challenged me both mentally and physically!”
Using fitness as her outlet, Peggy was able to achieve something that she never thought she could achieve before.
“The fitness lifestyle has pushed me to new heights, heights I never thought I could achieve,” she says.
“It is through my goals of competing and fitness modeling that I have been able to express my journey.”
Peggy uses all she has experienced to motivate her to make the most of every day.
“Although my husband is no longer here, I can still feel him pushing me daily to continue doing great things for myself and for others. He’s one of my biggest sources of inspiration to this day,” she says.
Peggy has successfully got her smile back with the help of her family and friends, along with her coach, Lee Banks and all the other people involved in her journey from the darkness into the light.
“At the age 48 I did my first photo shoot and I’ve done a few more since then to catalogue my progress,” she says.
“Photo shoots and competitions help to remind me that I can do anything I set my mind to.
“I’m looking forward to my next competition later this year in 2015, as well as my next photo shoot. I plan on doing something special this time around since, by then, I’ll be 50 years young – I can’t wait!”