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JoAnna Ward: A Healthy Life

Survivor Amazon contestant JoAnna Ward talks about getting spiritually and physically healthy and demonstrates a quick cardio workout with Kristi.


JoAnna was always interested in physical activity. As a little girl, JoAnna’s mother said she would be “running like the wind.” In high school, JoAnna was a track star and won title of Best All-Around. She was devoted to getting a basketball scholarship that demanded a physical commitment and good grades. JoAnna would get up every morning at 4:45 for practice. At the time, she thought it was hard and unnecessary to wake up so early in the morning. “I had no idea that God was preparing me…knowing that this training would prepare me for spiritual growth and development…” says JoAnna. The training helped her play better basketball but also made her a more disciplined woman. She was 6 years old when she dedicated her life to Christ, but in 1996 JoAnna recommitted her life to the Lord. She says she would get up early in the morning for her devotions. “I studied with the same tenacity and consistency I had as a student athlete,” she says. After her devotional time, JoAnna says she would run up and down an entire football stadium. “My body would be so physically challenged in completing the run that my mind and spirit would be given free reign to exercise, create, grow and flow.” She would leave the stadium replenished with great insight and truth. One day after completing the nearly 500 steps elevated to over fifty feet in most sections, JoAnna felt like the Lord told her, “This is not about you, and you need to worship Me.” Soon JoAnna began inviting overweight people to join her. JoAnna would finish before them and begin praying. Hundreds of pounds fell away. In one year, one woman lost over 100 pounds! A SURVIVOR When she auditioned for Survivor:The Amazon in 2002, JoAnna says she included her “hallelujah” devotional song of worship on her video tape. This song, combined with “before” and “after” footage of some of the ladies who lost weight, made JoAnna’s audition tape stand out to the talent scouts. The scouts were so impressed that JoAnna landed a spot on the show. While she was in the Amazon, JoAnna says that God showed her how seriously He takes devotion and praise. “God took that worship that was offered in the football stadium and allowed it to be heard around the world,” says JoAnna. “I call it the World Wide Worship. I had no idea how far it would go.” (She’s known as the “Hallelujah Lady” after her debut on Survivor.) JoAnna says being fit means being physically, mentally, and spiritually strong. She reminds us that the mind has the greatest influence over the body. As a college basketball player at South Carolina State University, her coach would say, “Mind over matter!” She learned that being a champion was a 24-hour a day mindset. After her college basketball career was over, JoAnna became inactive. Her marriage was falling apart, she had no money, and she was at the lowest point in her life. By 1996, weight continued to pile on and none of her clothes fit. JoAnna joined a gym only to find out she had gained 30 pounds in 6 months! Having grown up in a Christian home, JoAnna knew where to turn for help and prayed to the God she had drifted from. Soon JoAnna got a job making more than she ever had, she started working out in the gym for 3 hours every day and after 4 months she only lost 4 pounds. JoAnna changed her eating habits and eliminated all high-fat and high-calorie foods. In two months, JoAnna lost all 30 pounds.


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