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‘Biggest Loser’ contestant to share story at Colonial Heights church

Marci Gore • Jun 2, 2013 at 12:32 AM

Sherry Johnston tries to always possess a can-do attitude — no matter what challenge lies ahead.

The Knoxville native, along with her daughter, Ashley, were contestants on Season 9 of NBC’s hit reality show “The Biggest Loser.” Ashley made it to the final four while her mother placed sixth out of the 22 contestants. Sherry Johnston lost a total of 99.5 pounds. The mother-daughter duo’s combined percentage of weight loss was the highest of any team in Season 9.

Johnston says she had been thin in her early adult life, weighing 102 pounds when she graduated from high school, 105 when she married and 98 pounds after having children.

But after the death of her husband in 1998, Johnston says she began to gain weight. She says life seemed overwhelming at times and she lost hope in many ways. Her health and weight spiraled out of control. When Johnston arrived on The Biggest Loser Ranch she weighed in at 218 pounds, and realized she had doubled in size.

However, she says being a contestant on “The Biggest Loser” changed her life in ways she never imagined.

Today, Johnston shares her story, speaking at churches, hospitals, businesses, expos and races. She hopes to encourage and motivate others, showing them that they, too, can change their own lives.

Doug Hallock Ministries’ Get Real program will bring Johnston to Kingsport later this week.

Johnston will speak at 7 p.m., Friday, June 7, at Colonial Heights United Methodist Church, 631 Lebanon Road.

“Ashley and I were not one of the strong teams on the show. Nobody looked at us as a threat. During our workout on the first day we were there, Ashley panicked. She said she thought she was stronger than what she was. She said, ‘I thought I could do more. I really thought I could come in here and rip this up and I can’t even stand on the treadmill!’ During an interview on the show, when Ashley is telling me all of this — I call it a God moment — I just looked at her and I said, ‘But what if you can? What if you can go in the gym tomorrow?’ She looked at me and it was that moment for both of us — that ‘a-ha!’ moment,” Johnston said.

Three years later, “But what if you can?” is still Johnston’s mantra.

“We always know what the failure looks like, but what would it look like if you succeeded, or if things were different, or if you could overcome your challenges and make the changes? ‘But what if you can?’ comes from scripture — ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ We sell ourselves short. We want to do great things. We have the desire to do great things, but we truly don’t believe we can,” Johnston said.

Johnston says passing on what she learned while at The Biggest Loser Ranch is her mission now. But she’s especially passionate about helping those in her home state — particularly those in East Tennessee. Johnston has become involved in the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity, led by East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“I have a lot of family here. I’m the hometown girl. I want to help everyone, but I want to do it here. We have a lot of obesity in both children and adults around here. I want to encourage other parents to step up and do this for their kids. We need to lead by example,” she said. “I don’t want to keep what I learned to myself. I want to pass it on to others so they can become healthier, live longer and do more. I want them to do it not just for themselves, but for their children as well.”

Doug Hallock Ministries’ Get Real program will start its own weight loss challenge for area folks later this month. The Get Real Weight Loss Challenge will begin June 21 at Colonial Heights United Methodist Church and will teach participants how to make better food choices and how to get moving through exercise.

Those interested in participating must be 18 or older and can sign up for the three-month challenge from 6 to 9 p.m., June 7 or June 14 at the church.

Get Real will work with Mountain States Health Alliance Indian Path Medical Center Health Resources Center in the Kingsport Town Center Mall for the weigh-ins. The Health Resources Center will also offer free classes for all participants.

The grand prize winner of the Get Real Weight Loss Challenge will receive a one-year adult membership to the brand new YMCA Wellmont Center on Meadowview Parkway. The runner-up will receive a three-month adult membership to the Y. Both prizes include access to the new Kingsport Aquatic Center.

For more information about the challenge, contact Teri Hallock at teri@doughallock.com or (520) 400-5960.

To learn more about Johnston, visit her blog at http://www.butwhatifyoucan.com/.

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