For most of her life, Jo-Ann West has been controlled by the number on the scale.
She played four sports growing up in Canada, but, in particular, she was always being pushed by her gymnastics coaches to maintain a specific weight. Being healthy wasn’t the goal pushed on her; the goal was about that number on the scale.
“I’ve lived my life so much by the scale. My coach drilled that into me, and it stuck in my head,” Jo-Ann said. “It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I can’t live my life by the scale.”
After severely injuring both knees as a teenage gymnast and being told that she would likely be in a wheelchair because of the damage, Jo-Ann became a self-professed “yo-yo dieter.” She would gain weight, diet to lose it and eventually gain it all back plus some additional weight.
“I was a very active person growing, but then I shattered my knees doing gymnastics. Over the years I’ve had more than 14 surgeries on my knees,” Jo-Ann said. “So I kind of put exercise to the side.”
As the mother of two and grandmother of six, she often found herself sitting on the sidelines of life, watching as her active family participated in countless adventures.
“We went to visit our kids (in Canada), they said, ‘We don’t want you just sitting on the sidelines. We want you to participate,’” Jo-Ann said.
At a doctor appointment in early 2018, Jo-Ann’s outlook shifted; she knew she had to make major changes in her life. Her weight had peaked at 250 pounds, and she was diagnosed with both high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes.
In March 2018, Jo-Ann joined at the Pickens YMCA. After learning about all of the wellness program options, she opted for personal training with Wellness Director Tina Russo. Limited by her weight, Jo-Ann began exercising in the pool.
“I thought, ‘How much exercise can I really get in the pool?’ I was pleasantly surprised that in 8 weeks working with Tina I had lost 42 pounds,” Jo-Ann said. “Every time I wanted to give up or it hurt so bad, I had people at the Y keep me motivated to keep going.”
Her next step was to transition to the Wellness Center with The Journey program and ActivTrax app. The Journey is a wellness program that sets members up with a personalized exercise plan through ActivTrax, which gives participants a new workout every day.
Through The Journey, she saw regular improvements, and, as of mid-April, 2019, Jo-Ann has lost nearly 100 pounds and has been taken off all of her medications for blood pressure and Diabetes.
And when Jo-Ann visits her family in June, she plans to participate in outings and adventures with her family.
“My oldest granddaughter has taken up indoor rock climbing, and she said to me, ‘Will you go rock climbing with me?’” Jo-Ann said. “It’s important to build and treasure these memories with my family. Now I have a date with my granddaughter to go rock climbing.”