Total turnaround

Post Falls woman changes her life with diet and exercise

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DeAnne Johnson has lost nearly 90 pounds from dramatic changes in nutrition and exercise. She's pushing her personal trainer, Nicole Yeggy, at the Post Falls PEAK Health and Wellness Center.

An empty nest made DeAnne Johnson want to fly again.

After Johnson's three children left for college, the Post Falls woman began to rethink her life. She weighed 336 pounds and she suffered from debilitating migraines and fibromyalgia, a painful muscle and joint condition that limited her physical activity.

“I was in horrible health,” said Johnson, who works in property management and commercial cleaning services. “When the kids went to college, I decided to focus on myself. I thought, what can I do? I can drink my water every day. I can move every day and I can make choices about what I am eating.”

In addition to dramatically improved nutrition, Johnson joined an exercise group at the PEAK Health and Wellness Center in Post Falls and the pounds began to pour off.

“I caught the bug,” she said. “After the Boot Camp program, I joined a small fitness group that meets three times a week. It really focuses on strength training. I fill in other classes in between work when I can.”

Johnson has lost 87 pounds since January 26 and she's more committed than ever.

“I am an all-or-nothing type of person,” the 46-year-old said. “I don't have migraines anymore and I am not feeling pain. I am able to run, which is something I hadn't done since middle school. I used to be so tired, but now I have so much energy I have trouble falling asleep.”

Nicole Yeggy, a certified personal trainer at PEAK Fitness in Post Falls, said her job is to help members with accountability and to make sure they're working out properly to their physical abilities.

Watching people like DeAnne succeed in achieving their own wellness goals is rewarding, said Yeggy.

“She's done this because she wanted this for herself,” Yeggy said. “And that's really important.”

Johnson is one of 310 people who participate in PEAK'S Biggest Loser Challenges at its three locations (Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Hayden), said Gary Retter, an owner and manager of PEAK Health and Wellness Center.

“It's our best program that we run annually,” said Retter. “It has a built-in support system that is really important. It's a team competition, which gets everyone excited and improves morale.”

The Post Falls facility recently remodeled, removing the basketball court and adding more fitness stations to the building.

“We're really excited about that because our weight room needed to be bigger,” said Retter. “Now we have two huge weight rooms and new equipment.”

One of the new pieces of equipment is affectionately dubbed “The Rig,” and is the centerpiece of small group training.

“It's an adult jungle gym,” said Heath Wiltse, PEAK's Post Falls general manager and membership director. “It's 35 feet across and nine feet off the ground. You can do Ninja Warrior style pull-ups.”

Wiltse said The Rig has six different stations and can incorporate traditional weights as part of any workout.

“It really focuses on functional movement,” he said. “You get a full body workout with it.”

Johnson said family support is a big part of her success and while losing weight isn't easy, she believes anyone can do it with the proper mindset.

“Start somewhere,” she said. “Your mentality has a lot of do with it. Today, I feel great and not on any medication for pain.”

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