Sometimes life can catch us off guard, whether for good or worse. Julie Ragland (right, in the photo) can testify to this truth. Her journey through weight gain and weight loss were not in her original life plans, but she’s managed to give this story a happy ending. With many positive changes since spring 2011, Julie has gone from depressed and weighing 243 pounds to being a spirited, happy woman who weighs 189 pounds. She says she’s not done losing weight (with 25 more pounds to go), but her weight loss to date has given her back much that she lost.
Julie admits that life was good leading up to 2008. Weight was not an issue for her, she had been an athlete playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, and was also a cheerleader. However, this all changed when her family was overwhelmed with many tragedies. Julie admits to falling into a depression that came with “a huge weight gain.” This weight gain manifested in struggles through many areas of her life.
Julie told us, “I struggled with my body image and the way that I thought that others perceived me because of my weight. I didn’t hang out with friends much because I was ashamed of my weight gain and I thought I was being judged.”
Julie stopped shopping for clothes because it only fueled her depression. She said she’d only buy shoes or purses, but never clothes. However, it was the clothes that caused Julie to see things differently.
“My Ah-ha Moment came when my size 18 jeans started getting tight on me and I REFUSED to put a 2 in the front of my size!”
Julie was motivated by her young godson, husband, and step-daughter because she wanted to spend more time with them while being active together. She also wanted to be around to see her step-daughter walk down the aisle one day and be able to watch her godson grow up. These were all important things Julie didn’t feel were possible if she remained overweight. She knew it was time to make a change.
Julie’s first step toward change was attending a boot camp fitness class that a few of her acquaintances had gone to. This wasn’t an easy choice for Julie, as she said, “I was terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up, that I was going to look like a fool, or that I was going to fail, but I absolutely had to do something.”
That first boot camp was in June 2011 and she’s been going ever since. While Julie did try other classes and regimens, she found this was the best fit for her. The class also included an eating accountability journal, weigh-ins, and a commitment to attend a certain amount of workouts a week.
“I really need to be accountable to someone else for what I am eating and how I’ve done with my diet plan throughout the week,” she told us.
Julie has been accountable to this class for more than a year, and with the recommended clean diet, appropriate water consumption, and workout routine, Julie has worked hard to lose 54 pounds!
After Julie hit the 30 pounds lost milestone in early 2012 she added another class to her regimen. She now also attends Hip Hop Fitness (HHF). This fun dance class was designed to promote weight loss while dancing and having fun. “I started HHF in February 2012 and I strongly believe that it helped me get over a plateau. I’d plateaued at 30 pounds at the beginning of the year and HHF helped me break it.” Those plateaus are all too common in weight loss efforts, but Julie did the right thing by mixing things up and adding something new to her routine.
“My life is much better now that I’ve lost weight and have gotten more active,” said Julie. “I spend time with my family and still do Boot Camp and HHF. I have a more positive body image and am more comfortable in my skin. I like to shop for clothes and feel like I’ve truly made a positive change.”
Julie plans to continue boot camp and HHF because she enjoys the community she’s found in those classes. Julie’s next big goal is running her first 5K this spring. “[I] look forward to pushing myself to new heights.”
Julie has given a great ending to this story. Even though she admits the journey wasn’t always easy, she never gave up.
“I realized that it truly is a journey and when you invest in yourself it makes it all worthwhile.”
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