Losing the weight. My friend Julie’s weight loss story.

Everyone has a weight loss story and it’s important to share these stories so others can be inspired, motivated and know they are not alone. Today, I am sharing one of my best friend’s story with you. Julie and I met in high school, she was a sophomore and I was a senior sitting in a sophomore class. We instantly gravitated toward each other and from that day forward we were great friends. We fell out of touch because of a stupid argument after I graduated, but we reconnected 5 or 6 years ago…and continued to this point now. She has an amazing story; a story that I identify with as sat down to edit it.


Julie and I in high school my senior year, 1999!

Please take the time to read Julie’s story of determination, yo-yoing and weight loss below:

As far back as middle school, I can remember being heavier than most of my classmates. I developed a thick skin to protect myself from the fat jokes I heard regularly and became the stereotypical “funny big girl.”

Throughout grade school and college I slowly gained weight. I’d drop some weight with the latest fad diet, but it always came back, and then some.

Disney, Summer 2008

Disney, Summer 2008

By the age of 25 I was at 270 lbs. and a size 22. Living in Orlando, working long hours as a restaurant manager at Disney, I ate mindlessly; I ate because I was happy or sad or angry. The bottom line is that for any reason whatsoever, I ate.

I remember thinking of myself as heavy, but I don’t think I realized just how bad it had gotten until I went to the doctor when I was sick. After discussing my illness, the doctor said he wanted to take some time to discuss my weight. I didn’t realize all the added health risks that the extra weight on my body posed. At that point I was pre-diabetic, considered severely obese based on my BMI, and regularly experienced hip and knee pain.

The week after the doctor visit, a man approached me at work and struck up a conversation. After a few minutes he said the real reason he wanted to talk to me is because he had seen me all week during his vacation and thought I was a beautiful girl, but that my weight was slowly killing me.

Now had some stranger said this to me before the trip to the doctor, I would have probably gotten upset and eaten a carton or two of ice cream that night. But this time was different; it was like everything was pointing in the direction of a life change.

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I started 2009 on Weight Watchers and really learned a great deal about nutrition and just how badly I had been eating. By May I had lost 30 lbs. and I was feeling awesome! I would walk a couple of miles at night and do lightweights at home. But after May, I opted to leave Weight Watchers because I felt like I could do it on my own. (I’m some expert after a couple of months, right?)

Without a disciplined plan, my weight stayed the same. I would work out maybe once a week and eat somewhat healthy, but I still regularly cheated on my diet. I signed up to run 5, 10, and even 15K races just to prove to myself that I was in shape enough to do them. I would train for a couple of weeks prior to each race, struggle through, but then go right back to not working out. My weight yo-yoed within a 20 lb. range.

With no clear focus on exercise or healthy eating, a stressful job in which I was surrounded by food, and no real motivation, time went by and my weight stayed the same. By 2011, I was 215 lbs. and feeling defeated. I realize now that it was easier to feel defeated, to complain about my weight and use it as an excuse, than it was to make a change.

As I transitioned to a new job and relocated to Austin, I began a change in the way I had been thinking about health. I started walking daily again and trying to be more active, but I didn’t change my diet. My mind was constantly trying to sabotage my diet, telling me I couldn’t push through my workout or I was too tired to work out today, or that eating a cheeseburger wouldn’t be so bad.

Turning 28 in the summer of 2012 forced me to realize that the time to lose this weight was now, before I got any older. Although I had never really been someone who worked out regularly (besides walking), I began touring gyms. I committed to the one that felt the most comfortable and that had a large variety of activities, so I would never feel bored with my workout. The first month was really difficult, but once I got a routine, I was hooked.

My diet consisted of low fat and high protein. I ate several small meals a day and worked out at least once a day. Scheduling was a challenge, but I did the best I could.

I wrote a countdown of pounds on my bathroom mirror, so I began every day by focusing on my goal. I placed motivational quotes throughout my house and on my phone background to remind me not to give up. I made myself post on Facebook that I was going to the gym, just to hold myself accountable. These motivators helped me push past one big obstacle: that my mind was telling me I couldn’t do it.

My goal was to lose weight in a slow, healthy way and to reach a healthy BMI, which just so happened to also be only a few pound difference to a 100lbs loss from my original weight. I set my sights on the 100-pound goal and kept pushing myself.

By February of 2013 I was at 169 lbs! My BMI is now considered within the normal range for my weight, height, and age. I still crave bad food, and sometimes I eat badly. I feel guilty and beat myself up inside. The same when I skip a work out. But I think the important thing to remember is that tomorrow is a new day.

I still struggle with my body image. After so many years of being a “big girl,” I still look around the room to see if I’m the largest one there. And though I see the difference in the size on my clothes and the number on the scale, I don’t see the difference when I look at my body in the mirror. Taking my measurements and taking photos of myself throughout this journey has helped me see how far I’ve come.

May 2013

May 2013

If someone would have told me five years ago that I’d lose 100 lbs. someday, I would have never believed them. I just wanted to be healthier and feel better. There’s no easy way of getting the weight off and keeping it off. It comes with hard work over time. I had put that weight on my body, and I was going to make myself burn it all off so I remember to never let myself go back there. It’s a struggle everyday to change eating and exercise habits, but I think it’s important to remember the saying, “I may not be there get, but I’m one step closer than I was yesterday.” At this step on the journey, I feel great physically and have the satisfaction of looking back on how far I’ve come, and of looking forward to toning my body and continuing to live and active healthy lifestyle.

Here are some of the quotes I found helpful:
– “Of you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”
– “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.”
– “Don’t stop until you’re proud.”
– “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.”
– “Don’t give up on what you want most for something you want now.”
– “It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. Give it 12 weeks, and don’t quit.”
– “It will hurt. It will take time. It will require dedication. It will require willpower. You will need to make healthy decisions. It requires sacrifice. You will need to push your body to its max. There will be temptation. But I promise you, when you reach your goal, it’s worth it.”

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In one night, the old Julie…
– would eat two Chick Fila combo meals and a milkshake
– would eat a whole large pizza and quart (not pint) of ice cream

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The new Julie…
– makes cauliflower pizza crust and loads the pizza with veggies and low fat cheese
– loves low-fat frozen yogurt with fruit and nuts

Look at us now! Julie looks fabulous in this picture, but I look pretty bad. It was the day of the Austin 10/20 and I don’t think I recovered very well. It’s hard when your friends look so good!

This is probably my favorite picture of us together. I have it up in the house. I remember seeing her and I was so proud of her. She was determined and motivated and it definitely showed it!