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Getting healthy: It’s not rocket science

Kevin Johnson embraced a healthier lifestyle and lost a total of 91 pounds.

Kevin Johnson embraced a healthier lifestyle and lost a total of 91 pounds

Healthy Blue Living member Kevin Johnson, 44, from Owosso, Mich., knew he wouldn’t get positive reviews from his doctor when he went in for his annual checkup two years ago. 

Johnson, husband of 25 years to Sandy and father of three, dealt with the effects of his physical body every day. The excess weight, the constant knee and back pain, and the fact that his eating habits needed a major overhaul made him realize that at some point he would need to get moving. 

“I had to use pliers to latch onto the first notch of my workman’s belt,” remembers Johnson, a lineman for Consumers Energy. “And I knew that wasn’t good.” He was right. 

During Johnson’s checkup, his doctor confirmed his predictions. At more than 290 pounds, Kevin’s weight was affecting his blood pressure, his blood sugar and his cholesterol — all of which were high. In addition, his body mass index was 40. Identifying him as prediabetic, Johnson’s doctor promised to put him on medications to drive his numbers down if he couldn’t do it on his own by the next visit. 

That news, in addition to his brother surviving a recent massive heart attack, gave him the wake up call he needed to change his life. “Turning 40 and watching my brother’s recovery process made me reevaluate what I was doing to myself,” said Johnson. “I was a far cry from my days in the National Guard, and I was tired of putting off the changes I knew I needed to make.” 

Gradual changes

Johnson set his goals in phases, incorporating a few at a time. At first, he focused on performing at least 30 minutes of activity each day, no eating after 6 p.m. and eliminating pop from his diet. Gradually, he began eating more fruits and vegetables, reduced his portion sizes and cut down on eating carbohydrates.

“When I went back for my three-month follow up, I had lost 28 pounds and all of my levels were down from before,” recalled Johnson. “My doctor was very happy to know that I actually took his advice.”

His doctor urged him to continue his new lifestyle. By his six month follow-up appointment, Kevin had lost another 23 pounds. “I couldn’t believe how easily the pounds were coming off because it wasn’t rocket science,” Johnson said. “No fancy weight machines, no special diets, no medicine — I just learned how to burn more calories than I consume.” By the time Johnson went in for his annual checkup in January 2009, he lost another 40 pounds, bringing his weight loss total to 91 pounds. 

Johnson’s successful journey has given his family and friends inspiration to start their own journeys to better health. “At my job, there’s a group of guys competing to see who can lose the most weight,” he said. “I think it’s great. If I can do it, they can too.” 

These days, Kevin is committed to staying healthy. “When I started walking on the treadmill, I would barely go for 30 minutes at a time. Now I can run four miles at a 6 mile-an-hour speed,” Johnson said. “My knee pain is gone, my back pain is virtually non-existent. I feel like a whole new person. Two years ago, I had a 42 inch waist. I never want to go back there again.”

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