Wakulla county man pedals his way to a complete life transformation

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:03 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Wakulla County man is filled with joy this holiday season after his year started with a near-death experience.

The pandemic sent Isaac Johnson to a dark place, and it took his family and a rekindled passion to rescue himself.

Johnson landed in the hospital in March 2022. He was drinking heavily at the time and weighed about 120 pounds more than he does now. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 hypertension. His blood sugar was through the roof. Doctors said he was lucky to be alive.

“I went downhill real fast,” Johnson said.

His wife, Amy Conyers, stayed by his side throughout the ordeal.

“It was a challenging time for all of us as I know Covid was for everyone,” she said. “We were both pretty depressed and having a hard time with the life changes that were happening to us.”

Sitting in a hospital bed, Johnson said he had an epiphany.

“Just really woke me up because I didn’t want to die at 38,” he said. “So I decided to make a complete change. And just completely turned everything around and started exercising and whole food diet and that stuff.”

His first attempts to exercise ended in failure.

“I started off walking and it hurt,” he said.

So, remembering his childhood, he picked up a bike and began riding. Adding up the miles and ditching the drink came hand in hand.

“Riding my bike and exercising, I guess that is my support group, in kind of a way,” he said.

On a recent picture-perfect day for riding, Johnson whizzed by branches and leaves at Wakulla Springs State Park.

It’s his favorite spot, and the place where he re-discovered himself.

“When I was younger, it was a sense of freedom. I could get out and get away. I was independent,” he said.

“One of the first times I rode the bike around the trails, that all came rushing back. That joy, that excitement of going through the woods as fast as you can. That really sparked my love for being active again.”

He has his sights set on a brand new challenge, the True Grit Epic endurance race. It’s an 82-mile trek through the desert and mountains of Utah, a far cry from his Florida trail riding.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do, but it is exciting. And I do love the thought of it. But it is scary too,” he said.

It’s a chance for Amy and Isaac to take their kids on a cross-country adventure. The plan is to drive to Utah. The family posted more about the journey on a GoFundMe page set up to make the trip happen.

Johnson said it takes courage to overcome an addiction. But it can be done.

“You haven’t failed until you stop trying with everything in life,” he said.

While he didn’t turn to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, he knows plenty who have and says it’s a great resource.

The local AA number is 850-224-1818.

Big Bend 211 also can connect those in crisis to counselors or offer referrals for those dealing with alcohol misuse.