Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Johanna Halosz is 5 feet 6 inches tall and currently weighs 148 pounds. In 2014, after seeing her pictures from her dream vacation she was inspired to lose weight. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The turning point
I was always a chubby kid. I grew up in a large east coast Italian family with lots of cousins. My sister was a gymnast, and my earliest dancing school pictures show my thunder thighs! The first time I went to a Lean Line meeting with my aunts was in 1983. I was 9 years old. And my mom and aunts thought they would give us some tips on healthy eating, which at that point was rice cakes, skim milk and vegetables.
My turning point came when my husband and I saved for five years to go on an amazing 2-week Hawaiian adventure over the 2014 Christmas holiday. We took 1,200 photos and had the time of our lives. I had trouble making it through the 2-mile Waimea Canyon hike at sea level, and that was my first tip off. On the last day of the trip, 14 days in, we downloaded our pics into the iPad and started flipping through.
My husband, who loved me at any size, had taken an underwater wide-angle video of us snorkeling. And I was appalled. I remember crying when I saw the pictures. I couldn’t find one that was truly ok for me. We upgraded our redeye flight home to have more legroom the next day. And that took us to the bulkhead seat. I remember wedging my hips in the seat and barely bucking the seatbelt, and sitting uncomfortable, overnight, crying because I couldn’t budge the entire six-hour flight. The armrests and tray tables were fixed, and I could not even shift my weight to the side. It was my lowest point.
I knew that day I had to do something so I defaulted to what I did at least six times before. I decided to head back to Weight Watchers, setting out to lose the same 25 pounds that I have lost all of those other times with them. I found my old WW leader, and registered online. I did not find a friend to go with, so I had to go in myself. My best friends from high school had recently lost a combined 140 pounds between the two of them on the plan, and they encouraged me to lean on them whenever I needed to. And so, I walked in alone. For the first time. For the last time. This was for me.
Selfishly, I promised myself I would go back to Hawaii someday and retake all of those photos in a different body. Weight Watchers is about counting points, which is an algorithm that calculates different factors to encourage healthy food choices. I never miss a meeting. I was offered accountability partners, and as opposed to my last go rounds, a place to start to tackle the wellness side of weight loss. I started to have a healthy relationship with food. I did not reward myself with food. I held myself accountable to every single bite that I took and journaled it in the app.
As the weight fell off consistently at one to two pounds a week, and people started to notice, I started to stand a little taller. I made my journey public on my social media outlets. I posted pics of my progress, and soaked up the comments and compliments. I stuck to a reward system: Each five pound milestone, I gave myself a small gift — maybe it was a nail polish, or new workout shoes or clothes.
I started walking on week one. I made it about a mile, slowly. I was a size 20, XXL. It was winter so activities were limited. But I used the dogs as an excuse to get out each day. Two months later, a friend told me I was so lucky because a Club Pilates was moving in to my town. I had no clue what Club Pilates was, or what Pilates was for that matter, but she encouraged me to go take a class with her friend. And so I did.
Club Pilates changed my perspective on everything. I felt so good and so accomplished for doing something new, for me, alone. But Pilates was so great because there was no focus on anyone else. It was just about me. There was no judgement or comparison. I just wanted to get more of the magic in my life. Pilates was my morning touchstone. It became my daily routine, and set my tone for each day, five days a week.
My lifestyle completely changed. I went from a size 20 to a 6, XXL to a small. I stood a 1/2 inch taller. I went from a 40DD to a 34C bra size. My blood pressure went from 130/110 to 118/78, consistently. My confidence soared because losing 77 pounds is not an easy feat, and it was relatively fast. It took 17 months to lose the entire amount. I noticed the world is not kind to fat people. But my husband pointed out that maybe I was not kind to the world before. Maybe I was the one who didn’t look up, or invite them to hold a door for me, or accept that people noticed me because I just wanted to be invisible.
When I neared my goal weight and had been a poster child with Club Pilates during my weight loss journey, Allison, the founder and owner of Club Pilates, had encouraged me to take their teacher training program. I had a full-time job for 15 years in lending, but she encouraged me to share my love for Pilates with everyone. I took the program and was certified six months later and added teaching of the sunrise crew at 6 a.m. into my routine, so that I could still workout at 7 a.m. and not give up what was most important to my loss — my Pilates practice.
My confidence flourished as people loved my teaching and the feedback was positive. When Allison decided to sell her studios, she approached me, believing that I had the most amount of passion to take the torch. I used my business sense, along with my Pilates passion, to become a proud owner/operator of Club Pilates. I still teach each day, and workout each day, and run three businesses. The challenge of learning the art and the business keeps me on my toes each day.
I do nothing different to maintain the loss that I didn’t do to lose the weight. I eat a balanced diet of whole foods, lean protein, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I limit carbs, and watch the fat. I count points. I prepare food to bring to social functions. I fill up on healthy snacks. I keep my tools on hand. I stay away from “fat-free” and “sugar-free” foods. I stay away from boxed and prepared foods, too. I eat a ton of seafood and white meat. I enjoy food and have a healthy relationship with healthy food.
I shed all of my former wardrobes. My closet is filled with adorable size 6 clothes only. I am now employed in the fitness world, and wearing great clothes each day keeps me wanting to stay this size. Looking at my before and after photos definitely keeps me on track.
Honestly, I enjoy adult beverages. It’s hard for me to eliminate them completely, so I try to make a healthier choice of vodka and soda, and limit my intake. I know it would be so much better for me to eliminate this completely from my diet, but I do enjoy the social aspect of a cocktail!
There is no magic pill. Practice a balanced diet and exercise, remove excuses, find accountability partners, and work hard.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!
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