As a stay at home Kentucky mom, Brandi Johnson was busy keeping up with her four boys.
She was an active 30-year-old, but after four pregnancies she weighed 191 pounds.
Brandi decided to take charge of her health.
On her weight loss journey, Brandi (5’5”) lost 66 pounds over a span of nine months and has managed to keep it off for five years.
Now as a 35-year old mother, Brandi keeps her weight between 125 to 135 pounds.
She maintains her weight loss through exercise and what she calls intentional eating.
Losing weight takes months of dedicated effort.
Brandi, like most people had tried losing weight in the past, but ultimately stopped short of her goal and regained the weight.
Achieving her goal became possible when Brandi found the motivation to finally lose the weight.
Brandi talked about that switch flipping inside her, “I was extremely self-conscious with the way I looked and the way I felt, and I just thought this is the not the way I want to live my life, these boys are busy, active boys and I want to be right there with them.”
Being there for her sons meant becoming a healthier mother.
However, she had an additional obstacle.
Brandi suffers from an auto immune disorder and understood the consequences of not taking control of her health and well-being.
She would become dependent on medicines.
Brandi used that obstacle as fuel toward reaching her goal, “I knew that getting my weight and my whole metabolic system healthy would help prevent me from going down this road of medicines and at least postpone that for as long as I could.”
Exercise was a key component, which was something she’d never done.
Brandi explains that she was a bookworm without an athletic bone in her body: “I was extremely nervous about that and figured that I would only exercise just to get the weight off and ended up obviously enjoying exercise more than I thought I would.
That was a big key, adding in the exercise for me and then being very intentional about my food.”
While adding exercise in her life was one big key, thinking about what she ate was a second important component of her weight loss.
Brandi explains intentional eating a bit more, “what I found was that I was just eating without thinking throughout most the day, just putting things in my mouth whether it be leftovers or comfort foods, something that just tasted good instead of making plans to what my body actually needed and what would be good for me, so I’ve really focused on intentional eating.”
Brandi lost 60 pounds by exercising five days a week and planning what she ate.
Brandi says having a plan made things easier for her to become healthy.
“[Having a plan] makes me feel a little bit more in control rather than just being at the mercy of however I feel each day,” Brandi said.
“Once I have a plan that I know is going to get me to my goal and I can see it written down it’s easier for me to stick to that goal and know this is what I’ve already thought and planned out, so even when I don’t feel like it today I know that this is what is good for me.”
In addition to having a plan for what she eats, Brandi spends part of every Sunday preparing her meals for the week.
Having her food prepared in advance makes it easier to stay on track.
She explained how she can make healthy choices easier to do.
“I will have artichoke or cauliflower meatballs and some really good dense food that is good for me already prepared in the refrigerator so it’s easy for me to grab something that’s healthy and part of my plan as it is for me to grab a snack out of the cabinet that would not be as beneficial to my overall health.”
At first she admits it was difficult to see the benefit, but she began to see how it gave her more time to be a mother to her sons.
Experiencing the benefits of pre-prep, she started to see it as a reward.
“There definitely comes a point in the beginning where,” she said.
“You’re like, okay, I’ve heard this, I think this could be good but you haven’t experienced it yet.
I think after a little while of actually experiencing the blessing of the discipline, the preparation and the margin that can be built in, I think that is rewarding enough to keep somebody on track or at least to keep myself on track I should say.”
For the most part, Brandi sticks with exercise and planning she eats in having kept the weight off for five years.
Right now for exercise, which she does five times a week, Brandi enjoys CrossFit.
“I enjoy CrossFit,” she said.
“Because, I think it really combines several components.
We have a lift weighting component, gymnastic component and then also metabolic conditioning.
I enjoy the variety and I also enjoy the challenge of literally having some things that I cannot accomplish at this point such as I cannot do handstand pushups for instance.”
She further explained how CrossFit keeps her motivated, “I’m encouraged and challenged that I can actually continue to take steps through modifications of that movement and eventually be able to master that movement.”
The challenge and variety of CrossFit fuels her enjoyment of exercise, where a more routine activity like running failed to keep her moving.
It took a little bit of trial and error, while paying close attention to how her body responded.
“I eat a high protein diet,” said Brandi.
“I try to get 125 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat and 90 grams of carbohydrates per day.
It’s a very balanced diet but through research and trial and error with my own health and body I realized that there’s great benefit to not excluding or restricting those three macronutrients and that my body uses each of those in different ways.”
“The fat generally makes me happy, it helps my hormones and my mood so that’s really important and it also lubricates my joints so I’m not quite as sore.
Of course the protein feeds the muscle but I am trying to build muscle and be strong. “
“Most of my carbohydrates I get through vegetables which help me feel full and satisfied as well as give me energy and so I’m getting all my extra vitamins and nutrients as well.”
While the level of macronutrients are balanced for her needs and activity level, Brandi says, “the key is consistency.”
“My body knows each day what I’m going to feed it and so therefore my body feels very comfortable using everything I give it efficiently because it has confidence I will feed it again tomorrow the exact same thing.
It doesn’t have the need to store and kind of go through that starvation and saturation mode off and on all throughout the day, it’s very consistent.”
Brandi recognized that four growing boys have different nutritional requirements than she does as a 35-year-old woman. Brandi says her Sunday meal prep comes in handy.
“A lot of times,” said Brandi, “I’m able to eat the side dishes or maybe the main entrée and substitute my own side.
So it’s not that I eat completely different from them but having some prepared food to choose from and sub in places is what helps me be able to keep my diet on plan and still meet the nutritional needs of my children.”
She also takes some AdvoCare supplements, such as Spark a vitamin and energy drink, Arginine Extreme for cardiovascular endurance and their ProBiotic for digestive efficiency.
“Well,” she said.
“I would have liked to have had a healthier mindset when I started.
When I started I just simply wanted to get the weight off, I wasn’t concerned with my overall health as I should have been.”
This led her to focus on cutting calories, rather than optimizing her nutrition to properly fuel her body.
As a result, she wasn’t strong or healthy even though she lost weight.
The second thing involves changing her perspective on taking care of herself first.
“I’m a mom,” said Brandi.
“I give to my kids and to take that time away [to workout and prep meals] was something I struggled with, but I realized quickly, and people said it all the time I just didn’t take it to heart, is that until I’m strong and healthy then I can’t give 100% to my kids…I’ll be a better mother when I’m better to myself, when I love myself and take care of myself.
I definitely wish that I could have grasped that in the beginning as well.”
Let’s all get fit!