We all love reading transformation stories, mainly because it’s so inspiring and heart-warming to hear how people work hard to become both happier and healthier.
And Joanne Thivierge’s is one of the best we’ve seen, drastically changing her lifestyle to lose an incredible nine stone in just five years.
Not only is Joanne more confident with her appearance as a result, her weight loss has also helped her avoid severe health problems which she was previously suffering from including strokes.
27-year-old Joanne from Ontario, Canada, began her weight loss journey in late 2012 after she began experiencing health problems including loss of vision and a series of strokes.
Weighing 270 lbs, a doctor told Joanne if she wanted to avoid additional problems she had to lose weight.
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, Joanne said she then decided to start her transformation journey wanting to ‘live a full and satisfying life’:
When I was 19 I lost the ability to see in the upper left quadrant of my vision. I was sent for an MRI which revealed that I had suffered a series of strokes.
I was in the middle of completing university at this time and I truly believed that I would have to drop out of school due to my diminished sight.
I was sent for every test and I received no answers regarding the cause of these strokes. My doctor, however, advised that I was at risk for more strokes or additional health problems in the future if I continued to be obese.
At her heaviest Joanne weighed 270 lbs although she admits ‘there were many times I was too depressed or afraid to check my weight so my true heaviest weight is likely to be much higher’.
Now she currently weighs 135 pounds meaning in five years Joanne halved her weight!
While it only took her a year to lose the weight, it took four more for Joanne to build muscle and today she is still working at this.
Before she started her transformation, day-to-day Joanne’s life would consist of going to work, eating at her desk, coming home and then eating junk food while watching television until she fell asleep.
Although she wanted to go out with her friends, Joanne admitted her ‘life at that time was controlled by food and fear’.
And so when she began going to the gym, it was a struggle:
Going to a gym was very difficult at the beginning. I was apprehensive about being judged, criticised, or humiliated.
I began working out at a small gym in my neighbourhood in order to gain some momentum before I went to a full-size gym.
While at this small facility I felt embraced and I learned so much about the foundation of exercise because I was not held back by fear. It helped me build up confidence in myself.
I was stunned and relieved when I discovered that the people I feared for so long, those very fit and healthy people, were my loudest cheerleaders. That is when I really became motivated to become the best version of myself.
Joanne then went from being a ‘full-time coach potato’ to waking up at 5am everyday to go to the gym or run around the neighbourhood.
When she began enjoying exercise Joanne started feeling more motivated, her need for junk food dwindled as her new found confidence helped Joanne stick to whatever kept her healthy.
She told us:
I started cutting my carbohydrates down slowly and ate more protein-rich foods. I snacked many times during the day but instead of potato chips and candy, I could snack on apples and peanut butter or cucumber with Italian dressing with just as much satisfaction.
Once I started taking my health seriously, I felt that I didn’t need the crutch of food as much as I did. And, when I did mess up and eat junk food, my new sense of happiness allowed me to forgive myself easier than before and move on.
For Joanne the support of her friends and family was key to keeping her motivated during her transformation journey.
In fact she admitted ‘their support meant the difference between success and failure at times’ as while others tried to break her confidence, they were always there cheering her on.
Now she has reached her goal, Joanne feels she can achieve anything:
I feel absolutely blessed. Had it not been for the strokes, I don’t know if I’d have lost the weight.
Because of these strokes I found my motivation and the fire inside to keep pursuing my goals.
Because I did not quit on myself, I found the drive to succeed in other areas of my life because I knew from this experience that I could conquer any obstacles and achieve my goals.
She even gave some advice to anyone out there who wants to undergo a journey like hers:
Please do not stop. Find something active that you love to do and do it daily with joy. You do not lose value or worth because you cheated on your diet or skipped a day at the gym. Please do not let the normal motions of human life affect your future.
Think to yourself: ‘What would happen if this time I did not quit on myself? What would happen if I kept going?’
Injuries happen. Cravings happen. Fatigue and piling responsibilities and events happen, but these are only bumps in the road. Find something you love to do and keep doing it.
Beautifully put Joanne. You are a true inspiration!
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.