Joanna’s Journey to Be More Than 200 Pounds Healthier
Meet Joanna who lost over 200 pounds and regained her health.
She is no longer insulin dependent, her cholesterol is now in a healthy range, her arthritis is now manageable and her depression and anxiety are under control.
It’s amazing how so many ailments are tied to excess weight and in the same token, how many ailments can be cured by shedding the weight.
Here’s Joanna’s amazing transformation in her own words.
Why did you decide to transform your body?
I had been saying for many years (since I was eleven) that I was going to lose weight. But I tried over and over and failed each time. I was over 250 lbs. by the time I was twelve and more than 300 lbs. when I finished high school. I was constantly bullied and depressed, and never had the chance to lead a normal life.
At 30 years old, I was over 400 pounds and I never thought I could lose weight on my own. I went to get a consultation for weight loss surgery but was too scared to go through with it. I tried again to lose weight on my own and got down to 310 lbs. but then gained most of it back.
By 2013, I was almost 40, 352 pounds, and knew that if I didn’t lose weight I would die. I was diabetic, my sugar was out of control, and I have to say, suicidal. But, for the first time, I got involved in community activism and found a reason to live. I knew that if I wanted to continue to help my city, I had to help myself first. So I decided to make a dramatic change.
What was the diet plan or strategy that guided your transformation?
I did not do the small steps thing, I made a dramatic change. I threw away most of the food in my house, got rid of all the junk. I joined a gym and linked up with an amazing trainer.
I went from eating fast food and junk foods all day long to a 1200 calorie diet, with 40% of my calories from protein, 30% from fat and 30% from carbs. I eliminated red meat, fried foods, processed foods, and fast foods. I still follow the same ratio for my macros, though I now eat 2100 calories.
I worked out 3-4 hours a day (all I could do at the time was slow cardio and very light weights.) I made losing weight my full-time job and jumped into it 100%, following the guidance of my trainer. He taught me that fitness was about the mind, body, and spirit and I kept going with his encouragement.
Did exercise play any role in your transformation?
I started out with 2 hours of low impact cardio a day (slow treadmill, recumbent bike, hand pedals) and training once a week with a trainer doing light calisthenics and resistance work. We progressed to heavier weights, boxing drills, circuit training, and more.
I fell in love with working out, I now love lifting heavy and I take boxing, spin, and yoga classes. I workout 6 days a week.
Did you have any food or eating challenges?
I am addicted to food and there are certain foods that are triggers for me, I cannot keep sweets, nut butters, or cheese in my house unless it is a single serving because I cannot control myself when they are readily available.
Visiting family for the holidays is a huge challenge because there is so much food around, but I allow myself to “cheat” when I am with family out of state.
What’s one mistake you made during your transformation?
Believing that other people had best interests in mind, thinking that everyone was my friend and on my side, and trusting people who tried to sabotage me.
What Aspect of your journey has challenged you the most?
Believing in myself! In the beginning, I kept going because my trainer believed in me and encouraged me, but I didn’t really think I could be successful. Eventually, I began to trust in myself and in the process and listened to his advice of “No negative self-talk.”
What are your future plans with health and fitness?
I want to write a book about self-esteem, mental health, and conquering obesity. I would like to speak to as many people as possible about transformation, perhaps start a non-profit organization to help others. I would also love to enter a powerlifting competition some day.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to change their body
Get a good support system. Invest in yourself, believe in yourself, love yourself, and trust the process.