Last updated: May 07, 2014
julie-real-before
Julie Real
32, 5'4"
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Before: 237 lb.
Dress size: 18
Over the course of my 20s, the demands of marriage, motherhood and my job as an event planner (with plenty of decadent taste tests) caused my weight to spiral out of control. After the birth of my daughter in 2011, I tipped the scale at 237 pounds. Although I had joined Weight Watchers several times in the past, my efforts were always short-lived: I lacked the motivation to keep the pounds off. That changed in December 2011, when a close friend died, leaving her 18-month-old behind. Realizing I wanted to be there for my own daughters, I resolved to alter my ways.


Excuses, nixed
After trying to diet on my own for a few months, I went back to Weight Watchers in April 2012. This time, I was diligent about tracking my points and making those Sunday-morning meetings. The healthy eating tricks that I picked up through the group sessions, like snacking on fiber-rich berries instead of crackers, helped me ditch 15 pounds in the first month. Encouraged, I started using the elliptical in my garage for 30 minutes a day. By December I had worked up to two hours a day and had even started Piloxing classes (a Pilates-kickboxing combo). Then my elliptical broke down. Rather than waiting for it to get fixed, I reluctantly turned to running, as I was just 9 pounds away from my target weight.

julie-real-after
After: 133 lb.
Dress size: 4/6
Total lost: 106lb.
Tommy Garcia
Inner runner, found
I went into my first run planning to take walking breaks every 30 seconds, so when I finished 3.8 miles later, having gone for 45 minutes straight, I was in shock! I quickly fell in love with running and got into the habit of logging about 15 miles weekly. Within three weeks, I hit my goal weight of 146 pounds. Instead of dialing my exercise back, though, I kept it up. I completed several races, including a marathon! And my girls have become my biggest cheerleaders. Last summer, my 4-year-old insisted on entering a mini-race so that she could "be like Mommy." I have never been prouder.

Steal Her Moves
These simple strategies help Julie avoid rebound pounds. Borrow your favorites, and find more tested tips on Pinterest.

The Power Ballad: I start my running playlists with the Glee version of "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. The first line, "Something has changed within me, something is not the same," reminds me of my journey.

The Sweet Treat: I love to load a Chobani strawberry yogurt cup with chopped fresh strawberries. It makes me feel like I'm eating something substantial.

The Munchie-Busting Mind Trick: Goldfish used to be my kryptonite! I would grab a handful every time I walked through the kitchen, so I moved them to the garage.

The Flyaway Fix: When it's too hot for a hat, I sport BIC Bands headbands. They are the only ones that stay in place when I'm doing my long runs.

The Dream Trainer: If I had a trainer, I would want her to be like Jillian Michaels. I have all her DVDs, and her tough love approach helps me get my butt in gear.