Julia Kozerski, 28, doesn’t share a weight loss story like many others. Over the course of a year, not long after her wedding in 2009, Julia embarked on an incredible weight loss journey that left her half her original size. In the process of losing nearly 160 pounds, Julia documented the entire experience in an unlikely place: In dressing rooms using her iPhone.
Julia works as an advertising and marketing manager in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and received her bachelor’s degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. It was during her time spent there, mostly researching beauty, body image, and identity, that she underwent her incredible transformaton.
To slim down, Julia says she stopped eating junk food and cleaned up her diet. She also began counting calories and weighed and portioned her food to stay on track. For exercise, she began walking and biking, also employing a BodyBugg, which she wore to help keep track of her daily calorie expenditure.
As an artist and photographer, it felt natural for Julia to document her body’s changes. Though she never meant to share the photos publicly, she later released them as two artistic galleries on her personal website JuliaKozerski.com. Snippits of the more than 200 photos taken in dressing rooms between 2010 and 2011 can be found in “Changing Room.” The mostly nude series titled “Half,” documents her body’s changes in a much more intimate way.
We recently spoke with Julia to gain a more in-depth look at her inspiring journey.
Who was your support system?
At first, my support system was my photographs/self-portraits. My family (especially my husband) and my friends followed. After releasing my work during school critiques, my classmates and college instructors also became a source of support. Now, after sharing my images and story with the public, I’ve found an outpouring of acceptance and support from others worldwide.
What did you struggle with most?
I struggled the most with staying realistic. I would often become frustrated that things weren’t progressing fast enough. This is when I used my photographs, I could easily flip through my phone and instantly see where I was and where I came from. They helped me stay grounded.
What was your ‘ah ha’ moment with weight loss?
My ‘ah ha’ moment for starting my journey was seeing the number 338 pounds on the scale. That was followed by an ‘ah ha’ moment the following week at my personal “weigh in” when I lost 13 pounds (I knew change was actually possible). Another ‘ah ha’ moment occurred in March 2011 when I decided to stop being so regimented and understood that what I was doing was not following a diet, but I was changing my lifestyle (permanently). ‘Ah-has’ abounded throughout!
What are your future goals?
My future goals are not related to a number on the scale. I plan to keep living in search of happiness. Whether or not my weight fluctuates, I just want to be happy (that was my motivation to start this journey, I was unhappy). I believe that in order to stay personally fulfilled, I need to continue to look at and create art. My work centers around questions I have with regard to events taking part in my life. I find that examining my internal questions in an outward, artistic manner functions in a therapeutic way. It helps me embrace what is happening in the present and allows me to move forward, instead of holding everything in. One future artistic and personal goal is to start a family.
What advice would you offer other people struggling with their weight?
My advice is to not give up. You may struggle (as I did losing weight while growing up). You may feel like losing weight or making change is impossible. You may fall down and have to pick yourself up. It’s all normal! I believe success is about finding balance. You will succeed if you find the right combination – the right time in your life, the right mindset, the passion and drive. You cannot force yourself. When all things align, small changes will happen. Those small changes begin to snow-ball and, before you know it, you look back and see what you’ve accomplished! Think big, start small.
images via juliakozerski.com