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A Change That Would Last

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Laura Tenbus

September 13, 2018
Shawn Johnson was really good at losing weight...for short periods of time. He'd have bursts of motivation, but the pounds always came back. Without fail, Shawn found himself giving in to temptation and watching the number on the scale creep back up. He'd say to himself that he'd change once he got to a certain weight — first it was 350 pounds, then 400, then 450 — but he continually passed these markers without making any modifications to his lifestyle. "I thought to myself that if I kept going in the direction I'm going, I'll end up on My 600-lb Life," he said.

Even with this thought, Shawn became discouraged and struggled to maintain healthy habits. His employer often held weight-loss competitions, and these served as his motivation rather than his desire to be healthy. Because he was so overweight, it was easy to shed pounds quickly, and he frequently won the competitions. "I'd win and take all the money and then I'd get lazy again." Once there was no longer a prize to be won, he would stop working out and everything would come back. "I felt like I was just wasting my time," he recalled.

Shawn Johnson
Shawn, pictured center, at his friend's wedding.
Shawn also found that his weight was disrupting his social life. He and his friends love going to amusement parks, but he had difficulty keeping up with the group. While they never said anything and always went at a pace he could handle, Shawn hated that they had to slow down for him. He was embarrassed that he couldn't walk for long periods of time and that he was often too heavy to ride roller coasters and water slides. "I was the big guy at the parks," he said, and he felt like everyone knew it.

Even through all this, Shawn didn't really know how big he was until he saw a photograph of himself at his friend's wedding. Something about that specific picture resonated with him and he finally realized how significant his weight was.He knew that he could no longer live the way he was living and that he needed to make a change that would last. Weight-loss surgery seemed to be the best next step.

This wasn't a decision that he took lightly; he researched for more than a year before choosing GBMC's Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP). A friend had added him to COMP's Facebook support group and Shawn was greatly encouraged by the before and after pictures that he saw, as well as the direct interaction between doctors and patients. In 2016, at age 29, Shawn had the weight-loss surgery that transformed everything about his life.

As of 2018, Shawn has lost 240 pounds and is still losing weight. He's healthier than he's ever been and is doing all the things he wanted to but never could. "I have so much more energy and I'm not embarrassed all the time." Shawn can now go to amusement parks and fit on every ride. He doesn't lose his breath or lag behind and he can actually enjoy himself with his friends. He no longer has to special order his clothes and can simply walk into a store and buy something that fits him. "It's the best decision I've ever made, and I'd make it 1,000 times over. My life has changed in so many ways and I refuse to go back."

If you’re ready to begin your own transformation, or would simply like to know more about weight-loss surgery, please sign up to attend one of our free information sessions!
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