I had come to a point of desperation in my life. Years of poor decisions regarding my health and nutrition had pushed me beyond my chubby childhood and fat early adulthood. I remember the day I sat on the examining table as my doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Julie, you are what is classified as morbidly obese.”

Ironically, I think it was good intentions that got me to that point. I put everyone and everything else ahead of myself, all with the intent of being a good wife and mom. But after years of neglect, I hit rock bottom. I was in desperate need of a miracle; something had to be the catalyst for my change.

That change came in the form of a TV show. Along with more than 250,000 other people, I auditioned for season four of the reality show The Biggest Loser. After a year-long process, to my amazement I was cast on the show! Eight months later, I had a new life. I had lost nearly 100 pounds, or 44.5 percent of my body weight. I had gained the knowledge of how to take care of my body. I learned the importance of healthy eating habits. I learned to appreciate exercise, and I realized that I was a strong, capable woman. By making myself a priority, I could actually be better and stronger for those who needed me.

Healthy eating isn’t rocket science. It does, however, take preparation. But it’s so worth it. Instead of dashing through the drive-through window, I now prepare wholesome meals for my family ahead of time. We grill, often at the beginning of the week. Plus, I prepare good-tasting vegetables as side dishes and I keep all of these things pre-packaged in Ziploc bags. I like to refer to the process as “setting myself up for success.” I know my temptations and I refuse to have them in my house. What I do keep around are healthy snacks that provide filling and healthier alternatives to junk food, such as olives, almonds, real cheese, hummus, veggies and even sweet potato chips.

No longer do I sit idly by on the sidelines when my children play. I get out there and play with them. I am proud to say I can outrun my 9 year old. During the summer months, I also bike ride and swim.

One month after returning from The Biggest Loser, my family adopted a newborn, Jaxon. His addition to our family has been joyous, but certainly adds to the challenge of fitting in time for exercise. And yet I am more committed than ever to make the time to do it. While I may have to wake up a little earlier or go to bed a bit later, exercising remains a priority in my life.

I thought that after losing the weight I could just exercise a couple of times a week and eat what I wanted in moderation. However, I discovered that this is a battle I’ll fight for the rest of my life. I believe that we all need to live intentionally, being conscious of the choices we make and how they affect us as well as those who love us. For most of my life, I was defined by the image I saw in the mirror. Now I refuse to be hostage to that mentality. I recognize my value and worth as a woman, and I am thankful for a healthy, strong body.

Practical Workout Ideas

Ball-Find Suicides

Designate a starting line and place a bucket or shoebox for each person participating in the exercise a few feet apart on that line. Give you and your child or workout partner five tennis balls each and 60 seconds to hide them under or near things, such as a slide, in the crook of a tree limb or behind a fence post. Return to your designated starting point and yell “Go!” Race each other to see who can find the most balls. Picking up one ball at a time, place it in your respective bucket and return to continue the active search.

Swing Set Incline Push-Ups

Find two swings that are adjacent to each other. With one hand positioned on each seat, ease yourself down into plank position. Using a butterfly motion, push your body away from the swings, and then return to plank. Repeat 20 times.


This move is best executed on a straight slide, not a curled one. Using the sides of the slide for balance, run up the slide and then walk yourself down backwards. Complete 20 reps in a row. For added intensity, find side-by-side slides and race your child.

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Travel, September 2015
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