OWASSO — An Owasso woman is connecting with women all across Oklahoma and the nation who say her recent and very public weight-loss effort has encouraged them in more ways then one.
Georgeanna Johnson, 45, recently participated in the reality TV show “Extreme Weight Loss” on ABC. The show featuring her successful weight-loss challenge aired in July and revealed that the pastor’s wife and mother of two had lost a whopping 165 pounds.
In a recent telephone interview, Johnson said she didn’t know how the show would pare her year-long weight loss effort down to two hours. She said somehow the show’s producers did so, showing her learning how to eat healthily and work out, how to complete a gymnastics routine that she dreamed of achieving and — most of all — her big weight-loss reveal.
“It is hard to kind of live your life for a year and they film and you don’t know what’s going to be on TV,” Johnson said.
“I was very happy with it though. I felt like my personality came through. I felt I represented my family and church well. As a Christian, I wanted to represent the Body of Christ well and be a role model that says, ‘Hey, I’m a Christian and I work hard and with excellence,’ and I think that showed through.”
Johnson said an unexpected and pleasant result of the show has been the feedback she has received from other women who said they saw themselves in her weight-loss struggles.
Johnson said she attended an “Extreme Weight Loss” open call in Oklahoma City about a year ago because she felt she needed help finding a way back to the athleticism of her youth and a healthier weight and lifestyle.
“I was tired of being overweight, and I was really kind of frustrated with myself that I couldn’t figure it out. I knew I needed help,” she said.
Johnson said she was a competitive gymnast and cheerleader in high school, but her natural athleticism had been placed on the back burner when she became a “supermom.”
As wife of the Rev. Scott Johnson, an associate pastor at Church on the Move in Tulsa, and working mother of two daughters (now 20 and 23), Johnson said she was the mother who felt she had to be everywhere and do everything for others, with no thought of herself.
“I felt I needed to decorate the locker room and be at every practice and be the mom that made sure kids are fed instead of saying there’s lots of moms — I don’t have to be ‘supermom.’ I can just be a mom who helps here and there,” she said. “For some reason, I felt I had to be the one who took care of everything and just put myself on the back burner. I feel there are lots of moms that do that. They feel this pressure to be perfect, and we can’t be.”
Johnson said she loves being a mother and volunteering for her church and being wife of 24 years to her husband, but she felt the show would help her find lasting success with her weight-loss efforts.
“I had never found that balance, and I didn’t take care of myself,” she said.
Johnson said the hardest part of the entire process was being away from her family to attend a three-month boot camp in California run by Chris and Heidi Powell of the “Extreme Weight Loss” show.
Losing the weight was difficult, too, but Johnson said being at the boot camp was invaluable because she got personal attention and help learning how to eat healthily and work out consistently and effectively. She said she lost 94 pounds in that three-month period.
Johnson said once she returned home, she weighed in each week with a home trainer and kept in contact with the show’s producers and the Powells.
Once the show aired July 22, people around the country learned that the busy wife and mother had dropped from 315 pounds to 150 pounds — five pounds less than what she weighed in high school.
Awaiting her arrival at home from boot camp was a husband who had started his own weight-loss journey.
Johnson said her husband eventually lost 50 pounds as he worked out and began eating healthy foods along with her. She said the fact that both of them shed pounds and are much healthier has opened up new horizons for their marriage.
“We were the kind of couple that just watched TV and ate out a lot, but because Scott started working out with me, it’s just been fun to find things to do together,” she said. “We love to ride bikes in the evening or go on a run. We’re both healthy for the first time in years, and it’s been so good.”
And aside from the “extreme” weight loss and rejuvenated coupledom, Johnson said she loved meeting her goal to complete a gymnastics routine.
Helping her with this particular dream was none other than Olympian Nadia Comenaci, who lives in Norman with her husband and fellow Olympian Bart Conner.
Johnson said prior to her weight loss, she found that she couldn’t even do a cartwheel. As part of her gymnastics routine, shown on the show, she was able to demonstrate several skills that she had dreamed of performing again.
Meanwhile, Johnson said she has a website called “Fit Is Well,” based on one of her favorite hymns, “It Is Well With My Soul.” It’s through the website that women have been reaching out to her.
“I’ve gotten so much feedback from women who said ‘Ohmigosh! I felt like I was watching myself.’ I had hundreds of emails saying, ‘That was me,’” Johnson said.
Johnson said she hopes to continue connecting with people interested in her weight-loss journey as she works to maintains her fit and healthy lifestyle.
“I want to start a conversation to say, ‘We’re in this together.’ I want other women to feel that if I can do it, they can do it,” she said.
“I hope to speak at churches and talk to women and help them find the balance that I struggled with all along.”
Fit Is Well
To keep up with Georgeanna Johnson as she maintains her “extreme” weight loss and healthy lifestyle, go to her website, www.fitiswell.com.