Pastor finds path to weight loss

Ashley Saunders shows the worn-out underside of his running shoe. He lost 28kgs by dieting and walking up to 20kms a day.
Ashley Saunders shows the worn-out underside of his running shoe. He lost 28kgs by dieting and walking up to 20kms a day. Claudia Baxter

WHAT do you do when your two-year-old son wakes up with the sun at 4.30 in the morning on an Ipswich summer's day?

You put him in the pram and go for a walk - a very long walk.

At least that is what Brassall local Ashley Saunders did and it seems the morning ritual has become something of an obsession.

The Ipswich Baptist Church pastor now walks 15 to 20 kilometres a day around Ipswich as part of an all-encompassing lifestyle change that saw him shed close to 30kg in as many weeks.

The other secret to his success was a new year's decision to join the Boovall- based Jenny Craig program where he recently was crowned winner of the store's eight-week-challenge.

It seems the only victim in Pastor Saunders new lifestyle was his pair of running shoes that have been worn through to his socks.

The 51-year-old said his morning ritual came about almost by accident.

"We've been in Queensland for two years and with the absence of daylight saving we found our kids wake up very early in summer," he said.

"My wife is not a morning person and she found herself getting very tired from waking up so early.

"So it started with a plan where I could spend some time with my son, I could do some exercise and my wife could get some sleep.

"Walkers are disciplined people and if you go at the same time on the same route you'll find the same people in the same places every day.

"It becomes like a little community and seeing them every day has been good along the way."

Mr Saunders said his commitment to the routine was just part of his nature.

"Because I'm very competitive it's not just enough for me to walk for an hour or take a stroll, I like to make sure I go as fast as I can," he said.

The pastor's passion for walking and community will intersect in October when he embarks on a four-day walk from Warwick to Ipswich to raise money for charity.

Topics:  exercise health hiking lifestyle pastor weight loss

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