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Women Who Move: Melinda Johnson

MELINDA JOHNSON
AGE: 35
Vancouver, Wash.
Mom

Three years ago, I was 300 pounds, stressed and unhappy. One spring day, I thought it might improve my mood to take a walk outside. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I started challenging myself to go a bit farther. It seems crazy now—I remember when walking just one mile without stopping was incredibly daunting.

As I became stronger, I started trying to run. In the back of my mind, I wanted to finish a 5K race. For the next four months, I really pushed myself. I also joined a boot camp class. The coach took me under his wing and encouraged me to reach for goals I previously thought were unattainable. It was great to have a group to work out with; sometimes we would meet for runs during the week as well. Because of their support, I glided through my fi rst-ever fi nish line with ease.

After nine months, I had lost an astonishing 120 pounds. At the beginning of that year I wore a size 24—by the end I was a size 12. I celebrated by running a half marathon and was amazed when I fi niched! I’m not sure if I could have completed this journey without the help of the coach who believed in me. It only took one person to give me that confidence— now I try to be that woman for others to help motivate them to change their lives.

MY BEST ADVICE: STOP AND THINK.

If you want a candy bar or a bag of chips, take a moment to think about it before digging in. Ask yourself: How will the junk food affect me? What happens if I don’t eat it? Can I find a healthier choice? Trust me—you can and you’ll feel better for it.