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Johannes uses weight loss to defeat self-esteem issues

Date: 03/01/2018

How long I’ve kept it off: My name is Leah Johannes, I have not reached my desired weight, yet. But I have avoided gaining back any of the weight I lost. I continue to lose weight since my journey began in February of 2017.           

Personal life: I am a wife, married for almost 12 years, with three kids. I’m part of the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE). I’ve been a member of DHS staff for close to eight years. I currently work in the Health and Nutrition Unit as a Fraud Investigator Coordinator for the National School Lunch Program. My job is to go out to youth homes, juvenile detention centers, private schools, and foster care facilities, to monitor the food they eat. We aim to make sure the food is whole grain and meets United States Department of Agriculture standards. When I am not working, I’m running my kids around town to cheer, soccer, scouts practices or other social events. My youngest child is two so there is never a calm moment for me.                        

Keeping track of progress: I record my weight weekly on the Weight Watchers app. I also take pictures of my transformation as I go, in order to see the results.  The Weight Watchers app is what I use to track all the food I eat and exercise I do. I also keep count of my daily points. I closely watch the points that I have available for the day.

Turning point: I got to where I did not focus on my health or what I ate. I would grab a candy bar here, a sugary coffee to stay awake, fast food or greasy foods. I waited so long to eat that I would get “Hangry” and go for whatever I could find. I had little care of what my eating habits were doing to my body. In hindsight, I’ve always been on some diet fix that everyone swore by. I would invest in the shakes, pink drinks, etc. But once I got off the diets, I didn’t know how to eat healthy so all the weight came back.  
However, after I had my third child my weight got up to over 200 pounds. My self-esteem was awful. I became depressed about how I looked and that my clothes didn’t fit right. I got sick of buying plus sized clothes or wearing baggy clothes to hide my weight. I had no energy and I did not sleep well.  

Diet plan: I turned to Weight Watchers, a program that worked for me in the past. I signed up online and because of that – I have a huge community to engage with regarding the weight loss battle. The program is not a lose weight fast or “Get Skinny Fast” type of program. It teaches you about the importance of eating real food and portion control. The program allows a certain amount of points a day based on your age, height, weight, and your activity on a normal day. They also give you “weekly allowance points” to use on the weekends and on some weekdays, when you have the urge to not “eat-clean.” You also have activity points you earn with each workout.  With this plan, I was able to lose 30 pounds. The Weight Watchers plan encourages you to eat lean meat, vegetables, and lots of fruit.  Plus, there’s an option to go to weekly meetings and weigh-in at the meetings.     

Exercise routine: I do Crossfit in downtown Little Rock at Above and Beyond. It is the best motivation for anyone in their fitness life. The coaches really work with you and cheer you on. The teammate you workout with also supports you. There’s no person who’s left behind. We all finish together. I tested the Crossfit craze about three years ago, and I quickly became addicted. I started out not being able to lift 10 pounds, and today I can lift 115 pounds. The gym is a mix of cardio and strength training for high impact. Most workouts last 15 minutes or less. I competed in my first Crossfit competition last year called Women Warrior.

Biggest challenge:  I would say eating out is hard. Also, especially during the holiday season, if I know I am going to eat out on a specific day, I try to study the menu before I go and make the healthiest choice I can. Each day is a new day and a new start. Holidays are hard, as I have a bad sweet tooth. It takes a lot for me to turn down the sweets. But I plan my meals out for the week and stick to the plan. On the weekends, I use those extra points I’ve earned to splurge on some of the foods I love.           

How life has changed:  I love how I feel now. I can keep up with my kids again. I am more confident in myself.  I have learned to love fruit and vegetables, and I have learned what a serving size for one person looks like.  I have a love for working out. I now encourage others around me to eat better and exercise more as well.  

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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