Amber Stone rocks! The 31 year old lab tech “full tilt boogied” her Journey 2 Health (J2H) at Arkana Labs in Little Rock, AR.
Within 16 months she lost 45 pounds and dropped three pants and three top sizes. As of her last assessment in February, 2019, her waist was 8 inches smaller and her hips were down 9 inches. “I’m really proud of myself,” she said.
Her “before and after” J2H photos showed Amber just how important self image can be. She said her self confidence is up. And, although Amber always believed she looked and felt good before beginning J2H, she said “It was not until I got better that I realized how grateful I am to be where I am. I notice people who are overweight and realize how much better their lives could be.”
Amber said she is now able to enjoy more activities with her husband John and seven year old son, Trevor. They love to go camping on the weekends and take their camper to nearby areas. Kayaking and “outdoorsy stuff” define fun times. They deer hunt in season. They hangout with other families and Amber says their next adventures will involve some hiking as well.
During the week, Amber also uses her treadmill when she can. “I like to get the exercise, “ she says. In fact, her son Trevor asked Santa for his own treadmill last Christmas. He also asks her repeatedly about healthiest food choices. When they are eating out, “he won’t pick the unhealthy item if I don’t pick it,” she explained.
At work and elsewhere she takes the stairs. And despite a commute which requires getting up at 4:30 am in order to leave for work on time, Amber makes John and Trevor’s lunches and cooks dinner for them most nights. She usually leaves work between 3 pm and 4:15 pm to drive home, but can run as late as 9 pm pulling into her driveway. It depends on the day, errands, family appointments and what’s up at the lab.
So how did Amber accomplish her goal to get healthy? She attributed her success to “mindset.” Despite initial reservations about a program involving other people “telling me what to do with my life, “ Amber said the coaches at J2H were pivotal to her decision to sign up.
Although Amber had no significant health issues “yet,” her doctor had encouraged her during a 2017 annual exam to lose weight to avoid potential health problems. Since Amber ‘s weight loss and other health numbers looked so good at her 2018 checkup, Amber and her female doctor have become even closer friends. “We hangout some on the weekends,” she said.
When coaches Sarah and Jeanine talked to her about J2H, Amber said they were “so sweet” and offered to help her through. She realized the approach was more than just weight loss and decided to give it a try. She asked herself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Amber used her coaching sessions with Jeanine faithfully. She decided to “give it everything I had.” “It was all about the food,” she added. Despite having a husband who was “hard core potatoes and bread,” Amber enjoyed cooking. John agreed to eating healthy as long as it tasted good. Son Trevor was raised to eat what was served to him already so he was “not picky.”
Amber moved quickly and removed “white” foods from their meal plan. No white rice or potatoes. Wheat bread and zucchini noodles were introduced to meals of protein and vegetables. Amber’s new motto became, “ If the food goes bad, it is good for you.” Another was “Don’t treat yourself with food because you’re not a dog.” A third became “When I eat healthy things, I’m rewarding myself.” Her favorite part of the grocery store has become the produce aisles.
Just as with the food, Amber made alternative reward substitutes for healthy choices. She treated weight loss success with a new top or by doing something nice for herself. She signed up for a 12 week exercise program pamphlet which she did at home. She allowed herself beer and pizza on the weekends. But, stuck strictly to her healthy foods during the week. She drank a 30 ounce Yeti cup of water five times a day and still does.
Even if John and Trevor eventually preferred regular pasta to zucchini noodles or another starch to her favorite cauliflower rice, Amber never deviated. Even with her “Shrimp Étouffée” recipe she serves herself the frozen cauliflower rice. She steams it right out of the bag.
Amber said the weight dropped off fast for the first few months. But, the body requires time to reset and readjust. She said the J2H app posts were very helpful in educating her about these plateaus as were her talks with Coach Jeanine. She remained committed and continued to improve.
What was the hardest part of Amber’s journey? “At first I had backlash from friends,” she readily admitted. “People would criticize my healthy food choices. Or offer me brownies or things they made,” she said. “You’re really vulnerable to peer pressure at first, “ she added. “I had to learn to change my response to them.”
Instead of being defensive about her decision, Amber learned to answer “This is now my healthy lifestyle.” It worked so well people started making comments such as “Amber, I am bringing cookies but not for you. I know you are eating healthy now.” In fact, several employees joined J2H because of Amber’s results. People have asked her how she did it to which she replied, “I ate the right foods.”
In less than a year and a half, Amber’s Journey 2 Health has not only taught her the tools to become healthier, but also has equipped her to mentor and support others. This gift “helps keep your confidence up,” she said. Her “eating well” and “moving well” have resulted in Amber’s “living well” as a role model for her family and community.
Amber sums up her journey as “freaking awesome!” And that phrase also suits Amber “to a T.”