COLUMBUS — Rob Johnson finally had enough.
He was determined to make 2017 the year he lost weight.
Last Christmas, Johnson weighed almost 320 pounds. Like many Americans, he made a New Year's resolution to get fit. Unlike some, he stuck to that promise with an exercise routine and diet change that have resulted in a nearly 100-pound weight drop.
Physical pain was a motivator for Johnson.
Over the last decade, he said his back ached constantly.
“I went from one chair to another. I just hurt all the time. I had no energy. I came to a breaking point after the first of the year. I was sick of it. I was tired of being that way all the time. I thought if I lost some weight that maybe my back would feel better,” Johnson said.
The 49-year-old had tried to lose weight before through challenges between co-workers at Behlen Mfg. He would drop a few pounds, but gained them back after the competition was over.
This time it was different. With support from his wife, Linda, the couple joined Weight Watchers. After a few months, Johnson was down 60 pounds. His back was feeling a bit better, but he still needed surgery to treat a bad disc and other ailments compounded by his weight.
Physical therapy was needed after that, which he received at the Columbus Wellness Center.
That's where he was introduced to the Columbus Family YMCA and began to exercise.
Now, almost a year later, Johnson is just 4 pounds away from meeting his goal of weighing 220 pounds. He is marking his one-year anniversary on his weight loss journey as Jan. 26, the day he joined Weight Watchers. He is sure he will meet his goal by then.
“I’m going to hit it,” he said.
Johnson struggled with weight most of his life, except for a stint in the military when he said he was thin and fit. His diet mostly consisted of whatever he could get his hands on. He would finish a bag of chips in one sitting. He always wanted the largest piece of prime rib on the menu and he’d order three or four sandwiches with the largest serving of fries at fast-food restaurants.
“I was worried about not getting enough,” he said. “Now, when I go out to eat I get the chicken breast, fish. I always go for the vegetables.”
He also does a lot of cooking at home.
Those cravings are still there, especially for ice cream, which he previously had a bowl of every night. He’s substituted that with a low-calorie replacement and doesn’t deny himself a treat now and then.
“I might have a piece of dessert, but I know I can burn that off now,” Johnson said.
His visits to the gym consist of work mostly on the elliptical and treadmill machines.
Dedicating himself to a better diet and exercise routine has changed his life.
“I can walk as far as I want. I can stand as long as I want. I’ve cycled already up to 40 miles in one day,” Johnson said. “I can do anything I want now.”
Johnson has some advice for those considering weight-loss resolutions this New Year's:
• expectations should be realistic. Aim for losing a pound or two per week.
• a weight loss partner can help. His wife, who has lost about 50 pounds, has provided support and accountability.
• become educated on how to cook nutritious meals at home. Also, learn the most healthy snacks and menu items to order when eating out.
• don’t keep unhealthy food in the house. That eliminates temptation and binges.
• set goals, not only for weight loss, but with exercise. Go a little faster or a little longer than the last workout.
One of the best pieces of advice is looking long-term. That kind of thinking is what made the biggest difference for Johnson this time.
“I finally hit rock bottom and was sick and tired of it. I finally embraced that it wasn’t going to be for three months, or six months, or for a year, but it was going to be for life. My goal does not have an end,” he said.