Camp Zama Express manager loses nearly 140 pounds in annual ‘Biggest Loser’ contest

Camp Zama Express manager loses nearly 140 pounds in annual ‘Biggest Loser’ contest

by Sean Kimmons
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – About eight months ago, Justin Johnson decided he had enough. He felt physically and mentally drained most of the time and wanted to change.

Johnson, manager of the Camp Zama Express, began a life-altering routine and eventually shed 60 pounds by watching his diet and exercising every day.

On Wednesday, he won the male division in this year’s “Biggest Loser” competition, which the Yano Fitness Center co-organized. He lost about 10 pounds and gained 2 pounds of muscle during the seven-week contest.

Out of 40 participants, 25 of them finished the competition and lost a total of 138 pounds of fat and gained 37 pounds of muscle. Participants also turned in to organizers logs that accounted for a combined 9 million steps they took during the event.

In the contest, Johnson, 46, a former Air Force aircraft mechanic, walked a total of 775,000 steps, lifted weights and used a smartphone app to keep an eye on his calorie intake.

When he first began working out, he said he would walk around 5 miles in two hours. Now, he can run 8 miles in an hour and a half.

“I can honestly say that it’s a struggle some days,” he said of his routine. “But just like the old Nike commercial [says] – ‘Just do it.’ Just crank it out.”

Katya Quandt, spouse of a 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Soldier, won the female division in the contest.

She said she reached her goal of surpassing 1 million steps during the competition, and lost 13 pounds of fat.

“I feel amazing, but there’s still more to go,” she said, laughing. “I want to lose another 13 pounds and then I will be done and will just want to maintain it.”

Quandt, 40, said she was grateful for the competition, which provided her extra motivation.

“I’m very competitive by nature and the only reason I pushed so hard was because there was a competition,” she said. “Without a competition, there’s no way I would have lost that much in seven weeks.”

In the final category, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bradley Garrett was named the top active-duty Soldier contestant after losing about 12 pounds.

All three winners were honored at the fitness center and received prizes, such as gift cards and fitness gear.

Garrett, property book officer for 38th ADA, and his wife chose to participate to help both of them stay on track of their goals and to hold each other accountable.

The 34-year-old officer, who plans to compete in a couple of physique bodybuilding competitions in Japan this spring, said the Biggest Loser contest was ideal for his strict regimen.

The most significant challenge for him during it, though, was his growling stomach.

“I was hungry and I still am,” he said, smiling. “Being in such a caloric deficit for so long, you can easily see why some people say, ‘I’m not doing it anymore.’ Going to bed and waking up hungry is not comfortable. But it’s necessary if you’re focused.”

To achieve a fitness goal, Garrett stressed that it takes time and hard work.

“Patience is the best way to get through it,” he said. “You have to be patient with your body. It took a while to get to where you are and it’s going to take a while to get you to where you want to be.”

Shannon Vo, lead health educator at the Army Wellness Center and contest organizer, said participants were placed in a private group on social media, where they could help motivate and share tips with each other.

In addition, participants had full access to the AWC, including the “bod pod” system, a body composition test that determines the ratio of body fat to lean mass. Virtual classes and appointments with health educators were also offered.

“A lot of them were first-time clients,” Vo said. “Now they can see how we can better serve them and their families.”

She hopes participants will continue to encourage each other, so they can stay the course.

“These community programs are really important,” she said, “because it fosters a friendly competition. It helps people get to know each other.”

AWC services are currently available to all Military Health System beneficiaries looking to improve themselves. Classes typically center on sleep, activity and nutrition as part of the performance triad, in addition to stress management and tobacco education.

For appointments and additional details on AWC services, call 263-4073 or 046-407-4073.

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