DAVISON — When Ryan Litwiller was diagnosed last year with Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, he knew he needed to make a change in his life.
Weighing almost 300 pounds, Litwiller began an ambitious weight loss program which incorporated running and exercise.
The result of his efforts was a weight loss now approaching 100 pounds, which has reversed the diabetes and has given the 38-year-old married father of two a new outlook on life.
“I totally changed my diet and lifestyle, I didn’t want to be on medication rest of life,” said Litwiller. “I got active in exercise and later in running. I’m on a plant-based diet now and within just a few months I was able to reverse the diabetes and get off all the medication.”
After 18 months of running, Litwiller said he’s logged more than 4,000 miles. He enjoys running so much he took on a 100 km (63 miles) run last year and had begun training this year for a 100-mile run.
During his training, the annual run was cancelled due to COVID-19, but Litwiller was determined to run regardless of whether it was an official race or not.
“My running buddies (at Complete Runner running store in Flint) knew about my journey and how hard I had trained, and they said if I still wanted to run 100 miles, they’d help me,” said Litwiller. “We just needed a course 50 miles out and back with stations every 10 miles…for hydration.”
He said the course started in Rochester by the library at the Paint Creek Trail and it went on to connect to the Polly Ann Trail. From there he said he ran to Kings Mill and then turned around and made the journey back.
In all, the journey took a day, Litwiller completing the course in just under 24-hours, which was his goal, he said. The final time for Litwiller’s 100-mile run was 23 hours and 18 minutes, he said.
“There were highs and lows, but I kept telling myself ‘don’t give pain a voice’, the minute you give pain a voice it will take over,” said Litwiller. “If I say I’m tired, I believe it, my mind takes over and makes me tired or hurt. So, when people would ask me how I felt (during the run) I would say I was ‘excellent – doing great’. Maybe I wasn’t fully, but I acted like I was.”
Litwiller said the support from his friends, his running group (Complete Runner Ultra) and family was amazing. He said people he didn’t know came out and ran portions of the course with him to show support and even his two children, ages 10 and 12, ran a couple of miles with him along the course.
“If my original race wasn’t cancelled, I wouldn’t have experienced that great support,” said Litwiller. “It was soothing, these people running with me, pacing me and keeping me company.”
The achievement of his 100-mile run aside, Litwiller, who works in marketing for Retro Foam of Michigan, said his overall transformation has led to massive changes in his body and he now has lots of energy.
“Everything is better, everything is improved, and I feel better,” he said. “Not relying on medication is so huge. It’s given me dreams – to dream up crazy adventures like this, to really push myself to the limits and to see what those limits are.”
Litwiller said he’s thinking about his next challenge but hasn’t narrowed down what he wants to try next. He said he doesn’t know if it will be something involving more distance or more some more challenging.
“I feel I have more in me, to do more crazier things,” said Litwiller. “I say ‘just do it’ – mindset is super important. You have to believe you can do it; it can’t be a doctor saying do this. Other people may support you, but at the end of the day only you can make the change.”