NORTH OGDEN — When Virginia Johnson was at her heaviest, she never saw herself becoming a personal trainer.
After all, who was going to take fitness advice from a woman who was dangerously overweight?
She had tried various diets that didn’t work, including one left her reeling.
“I tried the Atkins and South Beach diets and I ended up getting really sick because I was eating very high protein and not enough of the other food groups,” Johnson said. “One day I was getting ready for work and I actually fainted.
“As I began studying more about nutrition I realized that our bodies need carbohydrates for fuel and my body was depending too much on protein for fuel. Protein isn’t a bad thing but too much of it can mess with a lot of things in your body.”
After the fainting episode, Johnson said she stopped dieting and exercising. She also gained back the 80 pounds she had lost.
“I didn’t have any energy. I couldn’t keep up with my kids,” she said. “I topped out at 342 pounds.”
To try to lose weight, Johnson began working out at Curves for Women in North Ogden, where owner Yvonne Burch also recommended a diet that includes an equal amount of protein, complex carbohydrates and fats.
Before long, Johnson also started working as a clerk at Curves to help pay for her membership. She got sick in the spring and stopped her workouts but kept the job. Her conscience started bothering her.
“I felt like a hypocrite because I was working there but wasn’t doing anything,” she said.
Then her father told her she didn’t look healthy and scolded her for letting herself go.
“It was an eye-opener because he was right,” she said. “I decided I was going to start working out again and that I was going to eat a healthy diet.”
The first day of her new plan, Johnson said she didn’t know how she would ever make it through the 30-minute workout routine.
“I had really let myself go. I mean, I could do two workouts in a day before this,” she said. “But I decided I was going to make it my goal to lose 10 pounds and that first month I ended up losing 25.”
She has since lost 130 pounds.
Burch said several of her customers have lost a tremendous amount of weight on the program, which includes 30-minute sessions of cardio and strength training.
“You need to change your lifestyle if you want to lose weight and keep it off,” Burch said. “That’s the only way you can really be successful. You can’t go on a fad diet and lose the weight and then start eating like you used to again. I’ve done every diet in the world and nothing worked permanently until I changed my lifestyle.”
Johnson said she would like to lose 30 more pounds, but right now, she feels great and is energetic and excited about the changes she has made in her lifestyle. She’s even returned to school and is studying to be a personal trainer.
“I’m just very excited because I feel so much better. I never thought I would be a personal trainer one day,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about nutrition. I’m learning new recipes and I feel so much stronger.
“People need to make themselves a priority. I don’t mean to be selfish but put yourself on your top 10 list because if you’re not taking care of yourself, you certainly won’t be able to take care of those around you.”