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Atlanta rapper Jeezy talks 60-pound weight loss journey and the July Fourth AJC Peachtree Road Race

‘As I started seeing the results and the ladies started to like it, I was like, ‘I’m going all out! This works.’ ’

Atlanta rapper and entrepreneur Jeezy knew that preparation would be the key going into his new challenge. Drinking lots of water, maintaining his already-clean diet and getting plenty of rest would be the only way he’d get through the 49th annual AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.

One to never shy away from a challenge, especially when being asked to participate by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Jeezy accepted. And now, the rap icon will be one of 60,000 participants in this year’s 6.2-mile race, Atlanta’s July Fourth tradition, which begins at Lenox Square and ends with a celebration in Piedmont Park.

“I’m just excited. I’m ready. I just hope a 68-year-old man doesn’t beat me out, because I heard [the older runners] go hard,” Jeezy said. “I was told to watch out for them.”

When Jeezy received a call to partner with Bottoms, the rapper knew this challenge was something he’d be willing to take on. The race would be about not only achieving personal goals but also partnering to raise money for three nonprofit organizations — The Atlanta Track Club’s Kilometer Kids, Jeezy’s Street Dreamz Foundation and the Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program — “which share the common goal of promoting healthy lifestyles and empowering children to make smart choices,” according to a press release. Together, the goal is to raise $1 million for charity.

“We’ve been supporting [Bottoms] since the beginning of her campaign,” Jeezy said. “One thing I commend her on is she’s always reaching back to community leaders and getting us involved in different things. When I heard of the opportunity, it was right up my alley.”

In an effort to get fellow celebrities and fans involved, Jeezy, using social media platforms and the hashtag #JeezyRunsPeachtree, signals for help in raising money for charity, rallying support while documenting his training regimen. He spent more than a month working out, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of rest. The rapper said this was one of the most challenging parts of training because of his jam-packed schedule. Jeezy has also received tips from friends on how to train and prep before the race.

“Everybody’s calling and giving me little pointers here and there,” Jeezy said. “I have a few friends who actually ran in marathons and 10Ks … It’s good to get everybody’s perspective on stuff like this because it’s not like I’m a veteran at marathons or races.”

The invitation personally resonated with Jeezy because of his own fitness journey. Years of wear and tear, lots of traveling, poor eating habits and lack of rest began to weigh on the rapper. Having had enough of the way he felt, Jeezy began to transform his lifestyle.

“As I got into it and started educating myself and getting the knowledge, it just really worked out for me better in the long run because it was something I knew I could do on my own,” Jeezy said. “As I started seeing the results and the ladies started to like it, I was like, ‘I’m going all out! This works.’ Just being proud of yourself and seeing progress, that’s the biggest part for me. Being able to know that if you focus on something, that you’ll get the chance to see the outcome.”

Since making the necessary lifestyle changes five years ago, the rapper has dropped 60 pounds and has made it a personal goal to better himself this year.

“I’m working out a lot of the kinks,” Jeezy said. “I’ve gotten with a nutritionist and done different things to figure out what’s better for me and my body. … It’s not hard. Sometimes it is genetics, but once you figure out what works for you, it’s easy. It works wonders for your mental and state of mind. When you look better, you feel better, you think better, you move faster, you think smarter. It’s a total package for me.

“This year, I want to be in the best shape of my life. This summer, I gotta be ready. You might see me with my shirt off a lot, so don’t hold it against me.”

For now, the main focus is the finish line.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Are you going to finish?’ I’m like, ‘Listen, man, there’s going to be 60,000 people there. You mean to tell me 60,000 people will finish and I’m not going to finish?’ Everybody wants to know my time. We’re going to have to wait until the end to see the time. We’ll check it out then.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.