Being overweight certainly carries a number of health risks, but rarely do we think about how serious those risks can be. For one woman in Ontario, Canada, her extra weight was potentially causing her to have strokes and lose her vision.
When Joanne Thivierge was just 19 years old, she began experiencing blindness in the upper left quadrant of her visual field. After an MRI scan, it was revealed that Joanna had suffered a series of strokes.
At the time, she was in the middle of completing her university studies and was afraid she would need to drop out to tend to her failing health. After multiple tests, no doctor could find a clear reason for Joanne's strokes, but her GP suggested that her weight was putting her at risk for more.
At 270 lbs, Joanna was obese and knew she had to make drastic changes to her diet and exercise regime if she wanted to live a healthy life.
Now, just five years later, Joanne weighs 135lbs and her transformation is absolutely incredible!
Joanne actually dropped the excess weight in just one year, but took four more to build up muscle tone to look the way she does today: fit and fabulous! She admits that she's much happier now and that her health issues have completely disappeared.
So how did she do it? Joanne's starting weight was 270lbs, though she admits, "There were many times I was too depressed or afraid to check my weight so my true heaviest weight is likely to be much higher."
At the time, her typical day consisted of sitting at work, eating at her desk, going home and eating junk food in front of the TV until she fell asleep. She says her "life at that time was controlled by food and fear".
Understandably, she starting taking control of her health with baby steps. She explains:
"Going to a gym was very difficult at the beginning. I was apprehensive about being judged, criticised, or humiliated. I began working out at a small gym in my neighborhood in order to gain some momentum before I went to a full-size gym.
"While at this small facility I felt embraced and I learned so much about the foundation of exercise because I was not held back by fear. It helped me build up confidence in myself.
"I was stunned and relieved when I discovered that the people I feared for so long, those very fit and healthy people, were my loudest cheerleaders. That is when I really became motivated to become the best version of myself."
In an inspirational post on social media, Joanne explains how she now loves her body:
”My name is Joanne Thivierge and I'm from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. I've been obese my entire life and weighed 210lbs at 14 and 250lbs at 18.
On July 5, 2009 when I was 19, I suffered 3 strokes. I had 2 more from August to September of that year. My doctor told me my weight was a large factor and if I didn't lose weight I would die.
I started working out slowly but it was years after that I really started to make a change. I started eating healthy, no processed foods and started doing a modified HIIT program.
I went down from 250lbs to 130lbs in less than 2 years. I love my body now and I'm still learning and discovering the things I can do :)”
Now Joanne happily wakes up every day at 5 am to hit the gym or go for a run. With an exercise plan in place, she also began to overhaul her eating habits and found that her craving for junk food disappeared as she replaced her snacks with healthier options.
Joanne reveals that she slowly cut back on carbs and added more protein-rich foods into her diet. "I snacked many times during the day but instead of potato chips and candy, I could snack on apples and peanut butter or cucumber with Italian dressing with just as much satisfaction," she said.
The pounds easily fell off and now Joanne is half her size and thriving. She says the key is to find your motivation. She reveals that without the strokes and support from her family and friends, she might not have ever lost the weight.
She also admits that her weight loss journey has allowed her to be happier and have confidence in herself, even when she makes mistakes. "I felt that I didn’t need the crutch of food as much as I did. And, when I did mess up and eat junk food, my new sense of happiness allowed me to forgive myself easier than before and move on," she admitted.
Joanne is now a huge supporter of anyone else looking to make a transformation with their health. She urges people not to give up and not to let the normal ups and downs of life to throw you off your track.
"Think to yourself: ‘What would happen if this time I did not quit on myself? What would happen if I kept going?" she said. "Injuries happen. Cravings happen. Fatigue and piling responsibilities and events happen, but these are only bumps in the road. Find something you love to do and keep doing it."
That's certainly some inspirational advice!