I’m Not Stuck And Neither Are You


Phil Johnson Unstuck

Phil Johnson’s Amazing Weight-Loss Story

My name is Phil Johnson. I am 62 years old and reside in San Ramon California. I have been married to my wife Nancy for 42 years and have two children. I am an Engineering Manager for a company that designs and manufactures vacuum components and assemblies for Industrial and R&D applications. I describe myself as “An ordinary man called and empowered by God to do extraordinary things.”

My favorite inspirational quote is:

I Want to Inspire People

I want someone to

Look at me and say

“Because of you

I didn’t give up”

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “stuck” as being unable to move from a particular position or place; unable to change a situation or circumstance. It is my personal experience that at certain times in our lives we all find ourselves “stuck”. Be it mental, physical, relational, financial, or occupational we all find ourselves in circumstances that we just don’t know how to change. We recognize the need for transformation but we are at a loss as how to facilitate the transformation. It is at times like these that we need a community of likeminded individuals who have faced these challenges and can inspire others to do likewise. That is why I am so excited to be a part of the ZIDIlife community, both to inspire and to be inspired.

Phil Johnson-At My Heaviest 317 lbs.

There is a word that has found its way into the American vocabulary that I believe is used far too often, “Marginalized”. It’s used to describe anyone who appears to deviate from the “perceived norm”.  God has never “Marginalized” anyone and as a follower of Christ I believe that God has called me to the “marginalized”, be it Gypsy’s in Romania, the Homeless in San Francisco, or the abused and battered “public square” that surrounds us on a daily basis. My “mission” in life is found in Isaiah 58:10-12; “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the “Marginalized” then your light will rise in the darkness and night will become like the noon day…you will be called a repairer of broken walls, a restorer of streets with dwellings.”

“Somehow, overnight, my attitude changed from Don’t Want To to Have To.”

In March of 2013 I weighed 317 pounds. My Type II diabetes was completely out of control. I had a pacemaker implanted the year before and my cardiologist literally “closed the book” on me and said if I didn’t lose weight there was nothing else he could do for me. My primary care doctor told me I had three months to make some changes or he was going to put me on insulin and that once that occurred I would never get off of it. I was taking a total of 14 pills a day to manage my diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure and other issues all related to my life long battle with obesity. I was “Stuck”. Unfortunately my attitude was “I don’t want to make the changes I know I need to make”. The day after my “do or die” conversation with my doctor I had lunch with a good friend of mine and during lunch I poured out my heart and my frustration with the my lack of motivation to do anything to change my circumstance. When we parted ways I went back to work and sat in my office in total despair at the situation I found myself in as if just sharing my despair had stirred the pot. Somehow, overnight, my attitude changed from “Don’t Want To” to “Have To”.

The next day instead of driving home I drove to the only place I knew to go, a Weight Watchers meeting. The leader of this motley crew celebrated every success no matter how small. One day she made a comment “It’s all about the bling” and showed us a charm bracelet that had 30 or so charms on it. Each represented a half marathon that she had “run”. She explained that she knew she was never going to win, she was never going to be the fastest but she enjoyed the training and the challenge. So she challenged us to do some form of exercise 5 days a week for 4 weeks and if we did we would get a charm. The next day I walked my first mile. It took me 26 minutes and I was confessing sin the whole way because I just knew I was going to die. I walked 5 miles a week for 4 weeks and that silly little charm was mine. Somewhere in those 4 weeks my attitude shifted from “Have Too” to “Want To”. I lost 30 lbs at Weight Watchers but I wanted more. I just wasn’t sure where to get it. So one night I sat on the edge of my bed and cried out to God and said “I need something, don’t know what it is but I need something.” The next day I opened the paper and there was a full page ad about a new gym, Itrim, opening up less than 3 miles from my house that was looking for 20 people to do their program for free for a year. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into that “Clinical Trial”.

In reflecting on this journey one of the biggest challenges I faced was trying to do it on my own. It was so overwhelming, and I really didn’t have a clue as where to begin. But it was so important that I had to allow myself to say “you’re stuck” and you need help so go find it and allow people to pour their lives into you like you’ve poured your life into others.  I humbled myself and sought the help I needed and accomplished the biggest goal of my life. I realized that there is an entire community that cares about me as much as I care about them. My new mantra is “Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.” I would advise anyone who finds themselves “stuck” to surround themselves with a community that will teach, encourage and inspire them to overcome the obstacles that they face. I believe that the ZIDI Life community can fulfill that purpose.