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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #71: Overcoming Adversity with Guest: Andrea Johnson

Show Notes

May 1, 2024

In this week's podcast episode, you'll hear from coach, Andrea Johnson. She'll share her own journey with health and weight, and how she's used those experiences to shape her career and help others.

Andrea Johnson empowers executives and founders to lead with authenticity, conviction and confidence so they can make a positive impact on their lives, organizations and communities.

As an adoptive parent, who grew up internationally, navigating mental and physical wellness, she learned that emotional resilience must be earned. The process of uncovering and understanding the significance of her Core Values became the key to the process that allows her clients to do the same. Andrea works with leaders who feel stifled, and have grown unsatisfied with their current level of influence. She facilitates
improved communication and corporate culture within teams and organizations as a Maxwell Certified DISC Consultant, speaker, trainer and coach. Her passion is equipping female leaders to define a new culture by trusting their own ability to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively.

Her personal story of overcoming childhood obesity, bulimia and depression, early menopause, gastric bypass surgery and private adoption, are all threads in the lovely tapestry of a journey leading to a personal growth lifestyle, Intentional Optimism. It provides the framework for how we do what we do. It’s the attitudes and mindsets we employ and embody to live out our own values, goals and dreams with excellence.

Her podcast, Stand Tall & Own It, is for high performing female leaders who are ready to make an impact by discovering the safety that comes from understanding their own value and exercising their authority. It’s time to truly “be you,” to Stand Tall & Own It. She’s a certified Maxwell Leadership Speaker, Trainer, Coach, and DISC Behavioral Analysis Consultant.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 71. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hello everyone and welcome to today's episode. I am so excited to introduce to you Andrea Johnson. She is a transformational leadership coach. She and I met recently at a Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce event and really have had some wonderful conversations in getting to know one another. And I was really struck by both her personal journey through weight and how that has impacted her coaching business and how she has really intentionally, she is the intentional optimist and really this intentional designing of her life to help understand herself and then use that work to support other people. And so Andrea, I am so excited to have you here with me today. Thank you for joining us. Andrea Johnson: Oh, thank you for the invitation, Sarah. This is, it's a privilege to be here and to share the journey that I've been on because you know, too many times, we talked about this before it, we don't talk about these things. We don't, we don't talk about our struggles inside. And you know, weight a lot of times is one of those things that is kind of a social taboo. We don't talk about it, right? Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Absolutely Andrea Johnson: So happy to be here. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Yeah. And with so many people who struggle with overweight and obesity and even people who are in bodies that society might look like as a normal weight, we often know that there's this huge internal struggle in terms of connecting with and understanding how our body is working. And so I'm really excited for our conversation today. Andrea Johnson: Cool. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: So I'm gonna have you start and tell us a bit about your journey through weight and how that has led you to where you're at today. Andrea Johnson: Mine started when I was born. I was late. I was like two and a half, maybe three weeks late. But I was only five pounds, three ounces. And so there was a lot of catching up to do. So I don't know if there was just a miscalculation back in the sixties or what, but I had some catching up to do. And I come from a family, both sides, not so much my mom's side, but my dad's side is lots of obesity and diabetes. And I learned early on that food is a wonderful way to soothe any anxiety that I have. And so I was always the chubby kid and I probably, first grade is the first time I was told holding my belly or perhaps don't eat that. And that it just, it escalated from there. My family, my dad was a pastor and then they became missionaries and we moved to Seoul, Korea, which in itself, I look back as, you know, I look back on that, I'm like, oh wow. The education I got the international mindset that I have, the way that I can cross cultures pretty, once I understand the culture, I could cross cultures pretty easily. Because I'm this third culture kid. I kind of morph in between, but it was still a very stressful situation for a kid. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Sure. Andrea Johnson: And we moved there when I was seven. And there was a lot of things we didn't have. We didn't have canned goods. We didn't have Jello or peanut butter in 1974, telling you my age. In 1974, Korea was not the powerhouse that it is today. It was still just not that many years out from the armistice. The Korean War is not over just from the armistice. And they were still recovering in many, many ways. And they didn't have the infrastructure and the technology. But what it meant was we had a giant half of our house upstairs was a giant storeroom where we took peanut butter and Jello and spam and tuna fish and canned chicken. All the things that were non-perishables that we weren't able to purchase because everything was in season or out of season. Right. You bought whatever was in season, you canned it for yourself, et cetera. So I had this inherent understanding of scarcity in my world. And I can look back on it now and see that, but at the time, all I knew was I needed something to soothe me. And Jello was a really great way to do that. And so I would eat Jello packets, or I would keep peanut butter underneath my bed. And being the only chubby kid in an international community also made it more difficult. So this was something that I struggled with all through high school. And I look back now and I'm like, I really wasn't that overweight. I was about what I weigh now. You know, it was about, even as a cheerleader at five two, I was maybe 130 pounds, 140 pounds, which then everybody else weighed a hundred pounds, you know? Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Right. Andrea Johnson: So they were five two to fivefive. And so I looked bigger than everybody else and developed probably by fifth or sixth grade bulimia. And it didn't really take off full force until I hit college. Because I came home from Korea by myself and went to college in Houston. And it's a giant city. Seoul is a giant city, but Houston was an unfamiliar giant city. And I didn't know it and I didn't understand it, and I didn't understand the culture really. And it just got worse and worse to the point that I developed severe depression and ended up in the hospital for a 12-week program, when I turned 20 in the hospital, for bulimia and depression. And it was the first time somebody said to me, you know, Andrea, because I'd been in Weight Watchers since sixth grade, and I mean, I have old fashioned Weight Watchers recipes of like mashing up pinto beans and putting salt and pepper and, and chili powder in them and spreading that on toast. You know, this vegetarian way of getting some protein that was low fat. And that still doesn't sound bad to me, but I'm like, oh my gosh, you did. It sounds like bean dip, you know? But it was, it's okay. Yeah. It sounds okay. But hitting college, really having no way to handle any of the things I had. That was where I was. And so I put myself in the hospital. My family was supportive, but they didn't understand. And so that was where kind of my personal growth started. And afterwards I was up and down and up and down, struggling, always doing really well on some kind of a 1200 to 1400 calorie a day diet with decent amounts of protein, eating very simple foods. Long story short, I ended up, after I got married, I mean, because I tried all, I did a whole bunch of different types of diets. I did Nutrisystem, I did American Weight Loss, Keto, ketosis, that kind of stuff. And about two years into my marriage, we moved to a really small church in Baltimore City. And that was really hard. And my weight just exploded. I was at one point I was 310 pounds and I'm now five, one and a half. And that's on a really good day. And even then, my ring is a four and a half ring, so that tells you my bones are small. So to this day, my knees hurt, et cetera. But my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I realized I had to do something and I was to the place where I couldn't make anything move. I couldn't make anything happen. And I chose to have bariatric surgery. I chose to have gastric bypass surgery. I tried to do the sleeve and my insurance company said no. Even 18 years ago. 2005. So it was 19 years ago in March. So I've just hit the 19 year mark. Even 19 years ago, they said it is the Cadillac, it's the one that we see people do the best on, don't gain as much weight back, so we're not gonna pay for anything else. And I said, yeah, okay. Because I was also having trouble with fertility, et cetera. And so gastric bypass was the decision I made for my weight. It is not the decision for everyone. It is a really great tool. I've watched people use it as a really great tool and I've watched people use it as a crutch or a pill to like get through and then they didn't fix the things they needed. So right along with that, I did therapy and counseling and like seven years’ worth. And then learning more and more and more about myself getting into my, the leadership space. I still go up and down in a 20, 25 pound range. I'm kind of in the up right now, but still, at one point I was down below one 20 and which felt really good. I just don't know. That's super sustainable for me. Either way, I am always noticing where my brain is, whether I'm actually physically hungry or not. And I have to eat a little bit differently because of my gastric bypass. But mostly I need to slow down. Mostly I need to be kind. Mostly I need to be willing to, to eat the protein I need. I supplement lots of supplements. I use a really good collagen protein powder, but I try to eat as many whole natural foods as possible. Either way, this isn't something that I just fixed and forgot. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Right. Well, and I think that's such a big point because a lot of times the conversation that I'm having with people, or you hear this sort of broader conversation in the media or in social media like bariatric surgery or some of the new medications that are supportive for obesity, like Wegovy, Zepbound, Mounjaro, Ozempic, all of those that like, maybe they're the easy way out. And I think the most important part of that is that that is this huge tool that allows you to create the success that you want by all of these things you've been trying to apply. Being able to actually finally see success in them and that psychological piece of your relationship with food. How are you connected with your body, understanding what your body is needing and asking for. Are you connected to that? And that's where [inaudible] really matters. And so, sort of regardless of how one loses weight, whether it's diet and exercise, whether it's with medications, whether it's with surgery, it's that getting to understand why I am eating. Am I eating for sort of true physiological hunger, or are there other things that are driving that behavior? What do I think about myself? Why am I turning to food? What do I think about my body? And it sounds like you've done really a lot of work in that area. So I would love to hear a bit about your experience with that and, and how you've applied some of that thought process work and coaching work to your own health journey. Andrea Johnson: Well, first I wanna say to everybody listening, I'm not perfect and I don't have it all figured out. And today, none of us do. And just know that one of the tools that I use is I kind of structure my eating so that I have a little room because when comfort eating is, or soothing is something that you've done all of your life, there's a certain amount of that that will probably never go away. I've learned to soothe with foods that are a little bit, that are more acceptable and that are healthy for my body. But every once in a while I need to eat a few crackers. And I did that today. And, I recognize it and I actually recognize when I'm doing it and saying, okay, I'm a little stressed right now. I need to like, be kind to myself and allow this, and then do this and put it away because otherwise I'm gonna go binge the whole thing. Right? So I understand that there are patterns that are in me that I don't know that I will ever be able to fully like get them out. I recognize them and I'm aware of them, but I don't know that they will ever fully go away. I just need to learn to work with me instead of against me. Yeah. And I think that's the biggest piece. But learning some things about myself, like my personality. So like if you were to go listen to my podcast, you'd hear 10 episodes of five different tools that I use to help me understand me. That help give me a foundation so that when the wind blows my tree, you know, I don't fall over. And some of that has helped me in being able to accept the fact that there are certain aspects to how my psyche is put together, or the nurturing that happened or the patterns that I developed throughout the, all those years through bulimia and depression. Some of those things I just have to recognize and my tools help me recognize them. Another thing that I think is really important is understanding your true worth and understanding your true value. So few of us, and I have this particular conversation with almost every podcast interview I do, it has to do with your core values. Who are you? How are you wired to function? What are your non-negotiables? And how are they being honored or dishonored in your life? Because many times when a core value of mine, I can look back on this now and see that a core value of mine, the very top one, which is basically autonomy of thought or freedom of thought. When that's dishonored in my life, I didn't know how to tell people not to dishonor that. And so a lot of times when we have something that's dishonor, like if it's respect or if it's boundaries or whatever, a lot of times that's when we will use food to soothe because we don't feel the authority to actually say, this is not okay for me. Right? So a lot of times it's things that we are not comfortable setting our own personal boundaries on because we don't understand them. And I was just talking with another person two days ago regarding, she said, well, a lot of times we'll apologize for our boundaries or the things that having a big personality or having opinions or being a leader, a woman in a leadership space. And she said, how do you get around that? And I'm like, oh, well, the reason we apologize is because we're not accepting our own selves, right? We are apologizing because we don't have the authority and the willingness to lead or pursue with conviction or passion. And therefore we don't have the confidence to say, this is just who I am. And the closer I get to that, the deeper I go into that work for myself in the core value work, the better I get at being able to say, okay, Andrea, what exactly was it that caused you the stress that you needed to eat a few crackers to soothe yourself? Because I needed that hit, right? I needed the crunchy, the dopamine, whatever it was. And I keep a few on hand. I don't keep a lot of other stuff. But I keep fruits and I keep vegetables, you know, because sometimes I just might need the crunch. And when you are willing to go granular on understanding what it is that's causing you to do this, like what is the trigger for me? And today, I think some of the trigger was I was tired. Some of the trigger is being in a situation where I have to follow up with someone that I sent a proposal to, which is very scary. Because I really want them to accept the proposal. I mean, it's things like that, it's this fear of rejection or, you know, and being able to say, okay, well that's actually not a core value. This is just something that I'm having to learn how to overcome. But if it were a core value, because that's happened to me before, I find myself eating really fast. Or I find myself in response to it eating really fast to get out of the situation. None of those are healthy. And so the better I know myself, the more likely I am to be able to slow down and to be able to say, Andrea, you are worthy of gentle eating. You are worthy of kindness and enjoying your food and tasting everything and enjoying every flavor that's in your mouth. And when I can do that internally, then I'm in good shape. But every once in a while, you know, I'm still learning to do that. So when I work with my clients, weight is not something we talk about. I mentored some people who've been through gastric bypass, and I've encouraged people. So my coaching is usually in personal growth and leadership, but personal growth, it matters. And as we do, as we conquer whatever it is that we need to conquer in our mindset or even in our bodies about our weight, whether it's over under or just dysmorphia, then the better we know ourselves, the more likely we are to be able to do that. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: eah. Well, I mean there's so many things that you said there that I could pull out from, because we think about this relationship that we have with ourselves. And when we are uncomfortable, most of my listeners and people that I'm working with are using food in that soothing way. But I think all of us, you know, every single person could choose, you know, whether it's alcohol or social media, scrolling or overworking or pornography or overspending or gambling or all of these different things. Everyone sort of has their, what is their default thing. There may be multiple, but what are the things that we do when we're trying to escape from? And it's clear from the way that you're talking about it that there's been so much work here. And so I think one of the things I really want to emphasize is that this personal growth is a journey, right? It doesn't just happen in a day or in a couple of days or in a couple of weeks, but it starts somewhere. And I think the starting with that awareness, like you were talking about, and that realization of what am I doing and why am I doing it? And even if you still decide to have the crackers or to have whatever it is, this awareness of I am stressed and I'm choosing to have crackers is so powerful. Rather than being in this place where our brains practice these habits. We do some of these things almost automatically these subconscious behaviors are driven. And if you've ever found yourself halfway through a sleeve of crackers or in the pantry, like, I can't believe I just ate whatever, like, our brains sort of do that automatically. And so this bringing of awareness is really that first step in starting to work towards changing that behavior. So I love everything that you shared there. Andrea Johnson: Yeah. And it's almost like giving myself permission to use that, whatever it is. Because I like to spend money too. I like to shop. But it's just giving myself permission to do something like that. And, which it's almost like putting on glasses to be able to see something. It's not the same, but it does give me the opportunity to say, all right, you've gotten that hit. So what is it that you need? What is going on there? What is triggering you? What do you need to work on? Because wouldn't it be nice if we were all courageous enough and had the energy that we need to, every single time we hit an urge like that to be able to say, whoop, stop. What is it that, oh, there it is. Okay, I'm gonna conquer that now. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Totally. Andrea Johnson: And we think we're supposed to be able to do that. And not a soul on this planet can do that. No. You know, Richard Simmons couldn't do that. I mean, none of us can do it. And to think that we are gonna hold ourselves to that kind of standard is nuts. Right? So when I do that, I give myself just the small piece of permission. I didn't give myself permission to eat a sleeve of crackers. I gave myself permission to eat a few. And then I don't walk away with the guilt. I don't walk away with that. I just ruined it. You know, my sister shared somebody she was listening to on Instagram said, your body doesn't know if it's tomorrow morning or not. Just eat better now. Right. Just now is a good time to decide to eat different, even if you feel like you blew it at lunch. You know, we say that if you blew it at lunch, pick it back up at dinner. But just that awareness of I gave myself permission, so therefore dinner doesn't have to be, I don't have to look at this as the day is blown. And I give myself permission. And by the way, my body doesn't know that I didn't start Monday morning. My body doesn't know that. It's just taking in the food that I'm eating now. So you're right. That awareness piece. And that's another thing that I work on with my clients. I mean, we've worked through a mastermind together and one of the first things that we talk about is awareness. That's the, you can't change anything you can't see. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Right? No, exactly. I think an important point is that the crackers have been consumed whether you feel guilty about them or whether you don't feel guilty about them. Right? Let's say there were four crackers consumed and that was 50 calories or whatever that has been consumed. So once it's been consumed, you can either accept that and have made that choice and be sort of proud of like bringing this awareness to the situation. Or you can beat yourself up. But the end result calorically is the same. So the beating yourself up doesn't help anything. Andrea Johnson: No. And I can look at it and say, oh, I only had 50 calories. That's not a bad little snack, you know? Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Right, exactly. Andrea Johnson: Is it an A plus one? No, I could have had something better, but that's what I have. So we're good. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Yeah. So that's what it was. And the restriction, a lot of times we're in these diets that are so all in or all out. And I say to my patients all the time, like, I would bet my life savings, whatever sort of their food is. So for you, we'd probably be talking about crackers. I'm like, I would literally bet my entire life savings that you are not gonna go the rest of your life without eating a cracker. Like, that's such a dumb bet to make for you. That's a good bet for me to make. Because I’m sure that you're gonna eat those crackers. And so how do we instead learn to live in a relationship where we can coexist with that food, understand why it's so triggering for us, and then choose it in a way that is in line with our goals rather than this sort of always thinking about, I can't have it. I can't have it, I can't have it. Which just builds that desire up so much more. Andrea Johnson: Well, I'm going to take this and give you an analogy from the work that I do, which is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: I would love that. Andrea Johnson: DISC behavioral analysis and leadership and training and coaching. So when we do a DISC assessment on someone, one of the things that comes back is what we call the power DISC, which are the seven leadership traits. And they're everything from relating to detailing to, to delegating, and persisting. I don't even, the ones that I don't do well obviously I don't remember. But when you get your power DISC score, a lot of people will look at that and go, oh, I have three below the midline. That means I need to work on those things. But that's not what we do. We don't take those and say, you need to bring these above the midline. No. We say, look at this one that you are like at an 80% on. That is a phenomenal trait. How can we highlight that in your life? How can we make sure that that works, that you are working 20% of your day in that area, right? So for me it's relating, I love having these conversations. And when I do that with someone, automatically their mindset shifts from fixing the things that are broken and the things that though I'm never gonna be good at detailing. Well, no, I take it back. Consistency is really the one. Like on Clifton strengths, my very bottom, 34 is consistency. So I'm never going to be the consistent person that I want to be. But what I've learned is I can be consistent in the things that really matter and not worry about everything else. So I'm really good at relating and I spend more time in that if you take that and switch it over and say, what about the things that trigger me and the foods that are there. Well, I love bread. You know, the Bible says, man cannot live by bread alone. I beg to differ. I could live on bread alone. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: [Laughs] Andrea could. Andrea Johnson: Andrea could live on bread alone. So crackers are a byproduct. They're an unleavened bread if you must, you know. Yeah. So I love, I like sourdough bread and brioche bread and all the different breads. And I have one specific one that I get from this bakery over in Chesterfield County, Virginia, that comes to all of our supermarkets. It's a nine grain and it has all the little crunchies in it. It has 90 calories per slice, which just blows my mind because it's this really hearty like heavy bread. And I'll use like PB2 and chocolate PB2 on it. And it's like heaven at lunch. I mean, it's just a treat. I get cold chills thinking about it. I didn't get to have it for lunch today. That's probably why I needed my crackers. But all that to say, what I do is I find the things that, as a gastro bypass patient, I really can't have much sugar. So that's not a problem for me. So I'm not worried about sugar. I also can't do carbonation. I also can't do this and that and this and that. And there's things that just taste terrible to me. I have those super taste buds. So there's a lot of vegetables that taste bad to me. But here's what I do know. I know I can do protein, I know I can do fruit. I have to be careful sometimes with the sugar content. I know I can do vegetables and salads. I know I can do all of those things really well. And my treats when I need a trigger are these really nice breads and really nice crackers. Sometimes really nice cheese. But you know, I can, if I do that in moderation, it's still got some protein in it, you know? So even though I know I should probably count it as a fat, but what I do is I don't take the things that are hard for me and try to make myself better in them. I'm a gastric bypass patient. I'm never going to drink another soda. Right? And I'm never going to be able, thank goodness, to eat a lot of candy bars, which I had done in the past. And I don't eat ice cream, which was something that was, I would sit and eat gallons and gallons. I mean like a gallon at a time. And you know, bulimia, right? So that's how we functioned. But there are things that I either can't do or don't wanna do because I'd rather stay healthy and things that I allow myself to do, and I say, well, how can I augment everything else? So what I tell you, I said I structure my meals during the day to leave myself some wiggle room. Right? Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: I love that. Andrea Johnson: So this is where I have that permission, but I don't just eat 40 calorie diet bread. That would not satisfy me. I eat my special nine grain bread and that makes me so happy. And then it's like my bread thing is satisfied. So it, I think that when we approach things from that positive opposite and say, what are the things that really matter? So if chocolate is a big deal for you, or candy is a big deal for you, you know, if you're giving yourself permission, you know how many calories are in them. You can buy, I go to Aldi and I get these German candy bars that are five in a pack and they're only a hundred calories per one. And this beautiful dark chocolate with like chili pepper or cherries or all kinds of lovely things in them. And one of those is not too many sugars for me. And it's a treat. So I've learned to do things that I love in a way that I can do them and still give myself permission to eat in a way that makes me a little more healthy. And so, you know, so I don't fluctuate 50 pounds. I might fluctuate 20 depending on the situation and where I am. But that's part of it. Does that help with the mindset piece? Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Yeah. Oh, I absolutely love that. And just really, you're going to choose to eat something, really enjoy it, right? I mean I see all these things on social media and all the hacks and like make healthy brownies with black beans and I'm like, I don't know, just make a real brownie and like really enjoy it. Yes. You know, go to your favorite bakery Yeah. And get a small- Yeah. Get it, share it with someone. Right. And, but really enjoy it and savor every bite of it, rather than eating a whole tray of black bean brownies that are probably not any better for you. Andrea Johnson: Yeah. I mean, they might have extra protein, but there's ways you can add protein to stuff that, like I said, I use a really nice collagen protein powder. I put it in my coffee in the mornings. Because I wanna make sure I get in a certain amount of protein because of my gastric bypass. And just because I'm a 57-year-old woman and I wanna make sure I get in enough protein. So I think that's a big piece of it is just that shifting it to where I'm giving myself permission to have some treats. But it may not be a treat that works for you. It's figuring out where my strengths are. And the other thing I do is I don't usually cheat at all, quote unquote cheat before lunch. It's like, I can make it through lunch. I can make it till like four o'clock, five o'clock in the afternoon. But when it comes evening time, I've got my semi-sweet chocolate chips that I'm putting in my yogurt in frozen and strawberries. I mean, and it just, it's like Cherry Garcia, you know? I mean, it's just wonderful. But that's when I know I'm weaker, that's when I know I need some help. So I structure my day to where I have it to get at night. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Well, I love that. And I think this part of you have learned what your body needs and what works for you. And that's the biggest piece is really connecting with oneself. Because we all have different needs. Different people have different favorite foods and what appeals to them and doesn't appeal to them. And so learning to reconnect with oneself and how you can honor your preferences. I never want someone to be eating foods that they hate. You know, what are the foods that you like? How do you lean into that? Choosing the ones that you both like and serve your health goals. And so I love that. Thank you for sharing some of that description with us. Tell me, Andrea, as we're wrapping up a conversation, is there anything you haven't shared with my listeners that you would really like them to know? Andrea Johnson: Well, the one thing that we haven't talked about is exercise. And the other piece to that, because that's the only note I kept was I wrote down muscle loss. Because yes, you need to know that whether you use one of these newer amazing drugs that seem to help or gastric bypass or some other, there's other, I don't even know all the different bariatric surgeries that are out there. The first 18 months put me, I mean, my hair fell out, it puts you in malnutrition mode. So it does that. And you need to understand you're going to lose muscle. And the most important thing for our overall health is to maintain good muscle. And so by the time I was a year into it, I think I lost 180 pounds in the first year and a half. And so by the time I was that far into it, I started exercising. And I am not one of those people. I wanted to run a marathon and a five miler and that kind of thing. Well, now I'm back to walking. I do strength training and I do like strength yoga because I don't want to lose the muscle mass and it would be real easy for me to just cut back on calories and drop the weight. But there was a point right after my mother died seven years ago that I only weighed 116 pounds. And to me, that sounds like the ideal weight for somebody of my height, but I also have extra skin as a gastric bypass patient. But even then, looking at myself in the mirror wasn't really happy. And II looked at myself in clothes and was like, wow, I'm really tiny, but I also had no muscle. And so I think that's the piece to remember too. Muscle burns more, it burns more calories for us. It gives us strength, it protects us. It means that we are stronger. And that's the other piece is that I'm kind of trying to, over the last few years, cultivate this idea. I'm trying to be stronger. My goal is to be stronger and healthier rather than skinny, you know? And if right now I'm a little rounder than I wanna be, I'm also becoming stronger. And I think that that is really kind of picking up in popularity and understanding in the quote unquote online body conscious or diet conversations, not losing muscle is really there. People are really starting to actually talk about that. So that's the one piece that no matter what you do, if you're just losing weight, if you're just stopping eating, if you're just restricting, you're probably not gonna help yourself because eventually you're gonna have to move more. I'm sure you work with your patients, you always talk about diet and exercise. Right. That's the piece. It's just imagine, imagine yourself when you're 80 having no muscle. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Right. That's exactly, you know, we think about, we talk about losing weight, but the reality is you don't really care about losing weight. You care about losing fat mass. Right? And so everybody agrees with that. And you know, anytime I say that, people are like, oh yeah, of course. And there are certain things we have to do then in order to make sure that we are supporting our muscle mass as we are losing that fat mass because the number on the scale is one thing. But when we look at all of our health outcomes, those are more reflective of our body fat percentage. Yeah. And so if we lose primarily muscle mass and we actually increase our body fat percentage because we haven't lost as much body fat, we end up having worse blood pressure, worse blood sugar, all of our health outcomes are risk for cancer or risk for heart disease. All of that hasn't changed or has maybe even worsened. And then especially, and I work with a lot of patients who are in their perimenopausal and early postmenopausal years, but really for anyone, you know, we're thinking about muscle and we're thinking about bone and muscle strength plays such a big role in our bone strength. And there are people, you don't wanna become the like decrepit little old lady who can't stand up straight. And so, you know this, how do we not just lose weight, but lose the fat mass and help to improve our overall health, which a hundred percent people are probably sick of me like protein, protein, protein. Resistance training, resistance training, resistance training. And thinking about, as you said, like when you're 80, you know, what are your old lady goals? And you know, my old lady goals are to be able to walk upstairs and lift luggage into an overhead compartment. And the only way that I'm going to do those things in 20, 30, 40, 50 years is if I'm really working on them now and continuing that work for the long term. So I love that you brought that up, because muscle mass is absolutely important. Andrea Johnson: Probably the most important, and I'm postmenopausal. I was early menopause, I think like 42, 41, I was finished. And I have family history of osteoporosis. Everybody's like, oh, do low impact. I'm like, no, I kind of need that muscle and I need that bone mass. So I don't always do low impact. So I do something that gives me some impact that will build my muscle strength. And so there's so many out there, and I just do Apple fitness. It doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to join a gym. Some people need something specific, but for me, my needs are pretty simple. I walk, I do apple fitness weight training, and I do like an app for like strength yoga and just having some simple options to just say, I have a move goal every day and I'm gonna do it. That's where the consistency comes in. It's like I can spend my energy being consistent there, so I don't have to spend my energy being consistent on absolutely everything. I can just spend it in specific spots. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm glad you brought that up. So thank you for sharing that because I could not agree more. That is such an important thing that we are emphasizing really for any journey, but especially in that weight loss journey, it becomes even more common. So tell us, Andrea, if people are interested in learning more about you, if they're interested in working with you, where can they do that? Andrea Johnson: Sure. I am online, not really everywhere, but almost. I am the intentional optimist, and especially on LinkedIn and Instagram. If you wanna DM me, I will DM you right back. And let me know that you heard me here on the podcast, and while you're here, Sarah asked some great questions and she invited me on here because she knew that I really had a passion for talking about this stuff. So make sure you take a minute and give her a five star review as you're listening here on the app. But I also talked about core values and understanding them. If you go to my website, the intentional, there's a button at the very top of the page right above my head that says, free core values exercise. And you can download that and kind of work through your own and see what you, what you can find there. But if you need a little more help, I also have a, a digital course and I have hybrid coaching where it, that I'm kind of testing out at this point to see if I wanna do it all as individual or if I wanna do a group program. So you can, there's all kinds of things that, that you can work with me on. But I am in the Charlottesville area, so if you're here, look me up and let's connect and just let me know that you heard me here on Sarah's podcast. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Andrea. This was really a treat. I appreciate your honesty because these conversations are so important and not had enough. So thank you for sharing everything with my listeners today. Andrea Johnson: It is my privilege. Thank you.
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