For as long as Brandee Johnson could remember, she had always been plagued with weight issues. To make matters worse, after having two kids, she found herself an astonishing 100 pounds overweight. One key comment from her son made her realize that her situation was more dire than she had realized. She then made a drastic decision for weight loss — and would change her life.
Living In The Fast Lane
Chattanooga, Tennessee native Brandee Johnson has always struggled with weight issues. Her harmful eating habits started during the formative early years of her childhood, and she never slowed down. She’d down sweets and carbs with no discretion, paying no mind to the future and the damage she was doing to herself.
Even when she bloomed into her teenage years, and concepts like dating and the strive to be popular in school slid into the picture, Brandee continued to embrace food over almost everything else. While most would probably expect her to face a life of bullying and health complications, the course of life in fact actually took her down a surprising path.
The Best of Both Worlds
Brandee managed to maintain a very active social and dating life. She would go out with friends, party, and eat all of her favorite foods. Remarkably enough, she didn’t even get sick. Overtime, many with her dietary habits would run into diseases like diabetes, gout, and high blood pressure — but not Brandee.
However, as time went by, she was sick of being comfortable with what was ultimately a bad situation. Without a doctor’s notice, Brandee decided to toss her cravings for unhealthy food aside, and to take direct action towards weight loss. She knew exactly where to go to make this happen.
Losing With Weight Watchers
While still in her youth, Brandee Johnson decided to tackle her weight issues. Seeing as it was the late 1990s, what better way to lose weight than by joining Weight Watchers? After all, back then, the most popular options were either joining Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig.
Once she began participating in the program, Brandee began to observe her own weight loss, which was happening at an incredible speed. Things were looking up for the young lady. However, once the ball begins rolling and life happens, you can run into the unexpected — and that’s exactly what happened to Brandee.
A Couple Bundles of Joy
Nothing will bring the process of weight loss to a halt quite like becoming pregnant. In her early twenties, Brandee became pregnant with her first child Branden. Once her baby stepped onto the scene, Brandee’s commitment to her weight loss program with Weight Watchers wasn’t exactly one of her top priorities.
Not only did she stop losing weight, but she ended up gaining it significantly. Ten years later, Brandee would give birth to a second child, her daughter Jorden, and the weight continued to pile on even heavier. Yet Brandee’s life and health would begin to look different as the year 2013 began to approach on the horizon. Someone would give Brandee an excellent idea.
Brandee’s New Year’s Resolution
It all began one day early in 2013. As the new year began, Brandee found herself at work. While everything was business as usual, Brandee was caught off guard by a question her boss asked her by the water cooler. He asked if she had a New Year’s Resolution.
She instantly replied by coming up with something that had been her resolution for as far back as she could remember. Brandee said that her resolution was to lose weight, but quickly realized that even still, she would be faced with one major obstacle. It was actually the same thing that held her resolution back for over a decade.
Where’s The Plan?
This resolution was nothing new for her. In fact, Brandee had been making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight on an almost yearly basis for as far back as she could recall. However, her biggest problem was that she didn’t really have a plan as to how to do so. She’d had no meal plan, no gym membership, no rules to follow.
Brandee’s past method had been to simply try to replace anything tasty with a salad and to keep away from anything that would tempt her. However, all of these diets failed her fast. Despite her past efforts quickly tanking, everything was going to be very different this time. Brandee’s boss came up with an idea that seemed bound to succeed.
Weight Loss Challenge
Her boss challenged Brandee and the whole company to a weight loss challenge. The challenge would demand that Brandee make a commitment. Despite feeling reluctant due to the pressures that came with such a big obligation, Brandee accepted. However, right off the bat, she ran into some hardships that made her think about quitting.
She tried her best, but regardless, her motivation was extremely low. She’d have to go from a diet of comforts to one of constant veggies and a vigorous workout routine. Then the phone rang — and a conversation began that was about to change her life forever.
A Call To Change
One doesn’t join a weight loss challenge without burning off some of the mental pressures by venting to a good friend, and that’s exactly what Brandee was doing on the night that changed her life. “I was having a conversation on the phone with a friend and we were talking about how expensive it is to eat healthy,” Brandee would later reminisce to Good Morning America.
But it was what happened after the call that would leave her floored. “When I hung up the phone, my son looked at me and said he overheard me, and said the most shocking thing to me.” The words that would come out of her son’s mouth ended up setting her on an amazing path to wellness.
Words of Wisdom
It was all sparked by something in particular Brandee said while she was on the phone with her friend letting off some steam about her office’s weight loss challenge. After talking about how costly it’d be to start eating healthy, her son shot back by saying, “Wouldn’t it cost more to bury you?”
At that point, the possibility of her own demise became a total reality in her mind. She at last looked in the mirror and saw that her weight had gone completely out of control, and that if she didn’t make an effort to cut back, she could very well eat her way to an early grave. Her son’s comment gave her a motivation that was even bigger than her own health.
Finding Reason In Her Children
Branden’s words had a sobering effect on his mother, and they inspired a motivation that went far beyond her own health. She decided she was going to lose weight for her children. Brandee was 100 pounds overweight and her children were aged 20 and 10. If she continued down the path that she was on, how much longer would she be in their lives?
Like any mother, Brandee had dreams of going to their graduations, weddings, and even meeting her grandchildren. She could see these moments from a happy future fading before her eyes, and knew that she’d have to take some action. So she set out to do the unthinkable.
Making Quick Progress
From that point on, Brandee began diet and workout on a regular basis. Incredibly, within the span of just three months, she was able to shed a remarkable 30 pounds. People at her job took notice of her progress, jumping onto the Brandee bandwagon train, and felt motivated to take part in the weight loss challenge themselves.
Soon enough, Brandee had convinced over 100 of her coworkers to join in on the challenge. While not everyone was dropping 30 pounds in a matter of months, it did bring on a positive change. The diet and lifestyle that Brandy was following wasn’t just a change of diet and three nights a week at the gym. She was strict to keep her diet on a day to day basis, and went to the gym almost everyday. So what was her plan?
A Breakdown Of Brandee’s Diet
Brandee’s Achilles heel came in the form of carbs, one of the most common culprits behind obesity. That being said, she was lucky she only had to face carbs, and not sugar. The substance is said to be more addictive than any drug. While sweets won’t burn you down like a forest fire, they act as kind of a slow burning candle.
Brandee kicked carbs off her grocery list. She stated, “I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by looking at labels because if I got overwhelmed I’d quit.” She went on: “I just cut out the obvious carbs like bread and pasta and rice.” However, this was only half the battle for this mother on a mission.
Filling your plate with healthy food is definitely a step in an amazing direction, but this doesn’t exactly mean you’re going to start shedding the pounds immediately. Brandee knew that along with better eating habits, she also had to focus on portion sizes. Everything she ate had to be cut in half.
During an interview, she said her decision-making boiled down to an acronym, “P and P,” preparing and planning. “I went to the grocery store and told myself to take my time and not rush,” she said. “I found when I stopped and took my time that healthy food was not much more expensive than unhealthy food.” And she wasn’t done yet.
When all was said and done, Brandee had managed to shed 105 pounds. That said, after she’d accomplished these impressive achievements, she wasn’t about to hang up her gym membership and pull into the local McDonald’s. Even today, she continues on her journey to being healthy and hasn’t gained any of her weight back.
She even took her kids on the ride with her, explaining in an interview, “I didn’t want my kids to be unhealthy either, so I started making the same meals for them too.” She made the act of being healthy into a family activity: “Now we grocery shop and get our food for the week together on Sundays.” Yet just when things couldn’t look any better, life side-swiped her.
It was six years after Brandee had begun her weight loss journey. She was now 40 years old and her life was going in the direction she’d hoped. But she was suddenly derailed when her appendix burst. In a matter of minutes, her world went from running on the treadmill to racing to the hospital. Brandee wouldn’t find herself there for a quick second either.
She was in such a dire condition that she had to spend weeks in the intensive care unit. But Brandee was not about to say goodbye to everything she had been working so hard for over the past years. While many in her situation would have let the severity of the experience crush them, something had kept her alive.
Losing Weight Saved Her Life
At the end of the day, the one thing that kept Brandee alive was the memory and tangible results of the life changes she had been implementing since 2013. Her caretakers in the hospital had confirmed that had she not put in the effort to lose weight when she did, she would have died.
She said during an interview, “Little did I know six years ago when I started to lose weight that it would save my life now.” Her hard work had ended up not only improving her life in the present, but changing future events: “The doctor said it was because of my good health that I survived.” The news inspired Brandee to change her habits in an even more extreme way.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Recovery from her hospital stay didn’t take a few days or even a few weeks. Brandee had to spend weeks away from the gym, and even when she went back, she couldn’t hit the machines as hard as she had. Yet while some might be slowed down from a long hospital stay and drift into a more comforting lifestyle, Brandee was different.
She came out determined to go down the right path. Brandee continued to lead the weight loss challenge at her job, and even managed to make a side hustle by speaking at events across the city and leading weight loss-related activities for others. After taking the city of Chattanooga, she then decided to go worldwide.
In an effort to inspire others and keep herself pumped to stay on top of things, Brandee decided to start a YouTube channel that would tell her story and serve as a platform to document some challenges she’s faced. One of her most impressive video series was her 30-day no-sugar diet.
The first week or so without any sugar can lead to lots of hunger pains, dizziness, and fatigue. It was obvious that Brandee was struggling in the beginning, but she soon described feeling better than ever. Her YouTube channel garnered quite a following. She never imagined who would reach out to her as a result.
Good Morning America, Meet Brandee
What was originally a decision for herself and her children turned out to be something much bigger, as Brandee was contacted by the folks at the morning talk show Good Morning America. Much like the townspeople of Chattanooga, the personalities at the TV station were inspired by Brandee and wanted to share her story with viewers far and wide.
Before she knew it, she was having her cup of coffee before millions of viewers. People from all over the country were hearing about her lifetime struggles with her weight and how she mustered up the energy to begin shedding the pounds. Of course, much of her progress had to be credited to her son, whose few words in 2013 changed her life forever. The responses that she received overwhelmed her.
With massive exposure following her television appearance on Good Morning America, Brandee’s videos received a ton of supportive comments, particularly the video about how she got started with the fitness lifestyle. She was just doing what she could for her family and ended up inspiring thousands.
But above the wave of positivity she received from total strangers the nation over, one comment in particular stands out, a warm spark of encouragement she was given by someone close to her heart. She got one especially beautiful and loving comment from her own sister: “Sis, I’m so proud of you! You look FABULOUS. Keep up the good work.”
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