One Broadview Heights woman is getting national attention for something even she's amazed she did. She lost so much weight she's recognized as one of the country's top success stories.
For Jamie Johnston it's all about if I can do it, pretty much anyone else can, too. You can find the 31-year-old Broadview Heights woman running just about everyday or in the gym pumping iron.
Johnston has collected a pile of running medals. The real "awesome" with her is what running helped her do, lose 184 pounds.
That would be enough to land her in a recent edition of "People" magazine.
"It's crazy, really crazy. I couldn't believe it," said Johnston.
It took her three years to go from 350 pounds at 5'5" to 166 pounds.
"You're watching yourself and seeing yourself transform and it was kind of surreal," remembered Johnston after her first year.
Overweight all her life, Johnston says she just accepted it. It ran in the family.
"I'm originally from Wisconsin where beer and cheese curds are kind of the staple, you know."
It wasn't until she was established in her career as an Assistant Dean at Cleveland State University and settled down with "Mr. Right," that her weight really started to bother her.
She said, "I was just real unhappy with myself you know. I was just at that point where you look in the mirror and it's like 'Ohhh.'"
In April 2011, when she felt the worst about herself, just so happened her workplace was offering Weight Watchers to everyone. So why not?
"Just an hour a week to go in and check in and I thought well, that's a stepping stone," said Johnston.
But, she knew she would need support especially from her husband, Dana.
"I love her so much and you know for her this is the right thing for her to do. I'd be remiss if I didn't just back her the whole way," said her husband.
So the Johnston household would change, for the healthy.
As Johnston opened her refrigerator for us, you could get a good look at her dedication to a clean diet.
"I have some butternut squash I have to make for lunch tomorrow," said Johnston.
Weight Watchers leader, Stephanie Mueller said she's never seen a success story like Johnston's.
"I'm thrilled, I'm thrilled," said Mueller. Mueller's worked for Weight Watchers for five years.
Mueller remembered the first day Johnston came to Weight Watchers.
"Day one, I remember Jamie coming in and she was enthusiastic about it, asked a lot of questions."
But, there's one day that really stood out for Johnston. She said she was about to walk into a store but, when in the glass door reflection she saw what looked like another woman about to come out she stepped aside to give the woman room.
Thinking that woman was taking her good old time, when Jamie looked toward the door again, she realized there was nobody there. The "woman" she thought she saw was HER! She had lost so much weight she didn't recognize herself.
Jamie isn't shy about telling her story. For example, she recalls being next to a man on the elliptical machine at her rec center when he groaned to her about trying to lose weight. She asked him how much was he trying to lose. She says when he said he was having a tough time with ten pounds, she couldn't help but explain she thought 184 pounds was a challenge.
She says that brought him to a dead stop.
I actually met her at the finish line of Akron's Race for the Cure this summer and when I complimented her on her speed and strength, with a big smile she was quick to tell me, by the way, "I lost 184 pounds."
I told everyone I knew about her for days after! That's the kind of reaction she gets all the time, but, what she likes most about that is it's potential to make a difference for others.
"If my story can get out there and I can reach one person you know, who is overweight or heavy and to have them realize that it is possible, then I've done what I wanted to do."
Her husband, who not long ago weighed more than 400 pounds, would be one of the first she would make a difference for, helping him knock off 110 pounds.
For him, the changes in both of them make those engagement pictures from three years ago extra special.
"I kind of use that as my reference point as to where we are now. It's cool."
Johnston says she still has some weight to lose, and with that she figures completing a full marathon would help. She is signed up for the Akron Marathon just a few months away.
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