Smith experiences ups, downs of new lifestyle

Published 7:22 pm Thursday, March 27, 2014

KEVIN SCOTT CUTLER | DAILY NEWS Joanna Smith uses a 14-pound ball during a recent workout at Fitness Unlimited in Washington.

Joanna Smith uses a 14-pound ball during a recent workout at Fitness Unlimited in Washington.

When Joanna Smith was named the winner of the first Weight Loss Journey Extreme contest earlier this year, she knew she was in for a life changing experience.

She may have gotten more than she bargained for, but she insists she wouldn’t change a thing.

With the opportunity comes personal training with Austin Thomas, owner of Fitness Unlimited, along with life coaching, nutrition guidance and other perks that will help her transform her life.

In under three months, Smith dropped over 20 pounds of “fat weight.” And that’s just one of the advantages of working hand in hand and side by side with Thomas and Weight Loss Journey Extreme partner Pam Pippin of P-Inc.

“Everything is better in my life … my relationships with my friends, my family and my boyfriend have gotten so much better,” Smith said in a recent interview. “I’m more productive at work … my skin is clearer.”

The process isn’t without its challenges, however. Smith is still overcoming a preexisting  foot injury incurred before she began the program, and her love of junk food is an obstacle.

“The hardest part I’ve struggled with is food,” Smith admitted. “I love fast food, I love cheese and I love carbs. I just had a birthday, and there was Valentine’s Day. I celebrate with food and I still struggle with that a lot.”

Thomas praised Smith for her honesty, determination, her work ethic and her ability to push through the pain. All have contributed to her success thus far, he said.

Many dieters who focus too much on the numbers on a scale can actually be losing ground, according to Thomas. In Smith’s case, the fat weight she has lost has been due to changes in eating habits and a personalized exercise routine.

“Lean versus fat is something that I really focus on,” Thomas said. “And the strength training  component of what we’re doing is working wonders.”

Someone who loses weight, with most of it being comprised of lean weight, isn’t going about it the right way, Thomas warned.

“If a person is losing 15 to 20 pounds without an exercise component, I can honestly  look at them and tell them it isn’t going to be permanent,” Thomas said.

Exercise is certainly a major component of Smith’s life these days.

The Bath resident is usually up at 4:30 in the morning in order to make the drive to Washington, where she works out with Thomas from 6 to 6:45 or 7 a.m. She showers at the fitness center, dresses and then puts in a full day of work. On the days when her program calls for two workout sessions, Smith is back in the gym for an hour-long session after work.

“I’ve gotten a lot better with time management,” Smith said. “I’m not a planner, I’m very bad at planning.”

The physical and mental aspects of such a commitment to good health have met with varying degrees of success.

“With the physical, I can push myself to get over that,” Smith said. “Mentally, it is very difficult. I have cried more in the past two months than I have in the past five years.”

But she says the struggles are worth it. And she is quick to thank Thomas for his own hard work and dedication.

“He’s very good about holding me accountable for things,” Smith said with a smile. “I can’t ever put into words how much I owe to him.”

Smith said Pippin is another important key to her Weight Loss Journey Extreme success.

“Pam is somebody who has been a huge source of support. She keeps me sane,” Smith said. “She’s extremely positive.”

Weight Loss Journey Extreme is a yearlong program that kicked off in January when Smith was chosen from a field of applicants looking for a healthier lifestyle. Videos created by Pippin are posted regularly onFacebook and You Tube, and the Washington Daily News is following Smith’s progress with a series of articles throughout the year.

“It’s fun,” Thomas said of his new program. “It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”