(NEW YORK) — Ashley Johnson weighed 323 pounds, and in a family of thin people, the temptation of food was everywhere.
“When I try to tell them, ‘You’re not helping,’ they keep telling me that it’s up to me to really have that willpower,” she said during her appearance Sunday night on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
But food was just one of the many issues weighing her down.
“This is a sad insecure person. This is so hard. I’m so ashamed of it,” she said.
When trainer Chris Powell surprised Johnson on her 20th birthday, she was desperate for a fresh start.
Months of crushing workouts were just one challenge. Her family was another. There was junk food in the house, and there were fights with her mother. It all affected Johnson’s progress.
After six months, things had reached a boiling point.
“When she [Ashley] finally admitted that she is a compulsive eater, that she is a food addict, that is when her real healing began,” Powell said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America. “But unfortunately she also realized that she can’t change the people around her.”
Johnson moved out of her house and in with a friend who offered to let her stay rent-free. With that healthy distance between Johnson and her family, she was able to kick her weight loss into high gear.
A year later, she had undergone a profound transformation. At her final weigh-in at the end of the show, Johnson had lost 156 pounds.
“She’s doing great. She’s so happy right now,” Powell said of Johnson on Monday.
Johnson is continuing on her weight loss journey using tips from Powell that, he says, anyone can use on their own.
“The one thing I recommend for everyone is to find a fitness-minded community like a yoga group or a tennis club or a basketball league or walking groups,” Powell said. “They’re everywhere. A quick Google search will lead you to some kind of fitness group within a mile of your home.”
Powell also recommends that people use a principle called F.I.T.T. — Frequency, Intensity, Time and Training — to ramp up their weight loss efforts.
“The basic rule we’re talking about is that your body will adapt to everything that we do so after five or six of the same kind of workout your body begins to adapt,” he said. ”If you want to get continued results and do extreme stuff like losing a lot of weight, you have to increase.”
“I do this with all of my people,” Powell said. ”Just constantly changing up things, that’s the F.I.T.T. principle.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio