ROCH WEBLINK Big loss makes Grand Meadow man a winner

By Karen Colbenson

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

GRAND MEADOW — At 367 pounds and with high blood pressure and cholesterol, Jeff Johnson of Grand Meadow had a choice to make. He could continue taking pills for the rest of his life or he could change his lifestyle.

Johnson chose change.

For the second year in a row, he enrolled in the United Way Get Fit Healthy Living Challenge. He did pretty good in 2006


But he was taking a prescription drug for high blood pressure and faced the possibility of having to take medication for cholesterol, so he knew he would have to do even better this year.

During nine weeks of better eating and daily exercise, Johnson lost 61 pounds —16.6 percent of his body weight. He was named the individual winner for most weight lost at United Way’s 29th annual meeting and victory party Tuesday.

"It’s a lifestyle change," Johnson said.

Johnson’s exercise routine includes daily 10-minute morning workouts and several cardio and weight-training sessions during the week. Less sodium, fresh fruits and whole grains are key to his new diet.

Johnson said the hardest part wasn’t changing his eating habits. It was making time to work out every day.

But it’s been worth it, he said. Now it’s easier to climb stairs and tie his shoes.

"I can breathe," he said, smiling.

Johnson said he has avoided having to take cholesterol-lowering medicine and has been able to stop taking the blood pressure medicine.


Johnson has a long way to go. He wants to lose another 100 pounds. But the United Way competition has given him the motivation he really needed, Johnson said.

"Our kids are so proud because they will have their dad around longer now," said Johnson’s wife, Brenda.

Jeff and Brenda Johnson were also part of "Team Purple," the winning adult team in this year’s competition. Winners are based on combined weight loss and activity points. Other members of the team are Rob Johnson, Tracy Benson, Lisa Glynn and Deanna Simonson.

The Heimark Family won the Family Challenge with 32,623 activity points earned. Johnson’s family came in second.

For more information, go to

United Way of Mower County

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