Written By: Rose Fong
Photography By: @KarloGomez
If Julie (Jules to many) could have coffee with anyone in the world right now, she’d pick Michelle Obama. “She’s very big on bringing up our girls right. I would love to have a sit-down conversation with her.” And she totally deserves to.
Dear Michelle Obama, here’s why Julie is totally someone to take on a coffee date.
Julie sees beauty in people who have gone through struggles and found strength within themselves. “On social media, I gravitate towards these women who are struggling with being confident, because I know exactly what that’s like.”
It’s only recently that Jules finds herself comfortable in her own skin. Five years ago, Julie was unhappy. “The highest number I saw on the scale was three hundred pounds. I wasn’t really doing much with my life. I wasn’t happy.”
She tried all the fad diets and all the quick fixes, but with the usual frustrating, yo-yoing results. “One day, it just stuck in my head that if I really wanted to do it, I could. No one else is gonna do for me. It had to be me. I started to lose some weight, and it was like [as soon as] I saw progress, I couldn’t backtrack and go to where I was before.”
Julie hit 180 pounds, a 120 pound loss. But, surprisingly, the personal best low weight wasn’t as satisfying as she hoped. “I think that so many people think that when you lose weight, it’s all about that number on the scale, like if you see a certain number, it’s gonna make you happy. And that wasn’t it for me.”
She fell off the wagon, so to speak, and gained about twenty pounds back. But she also fell in love with herself in the process. “That’s when I found weightlifting. I fell in love with how it made me feel. It helped with my confidence. It made me realize how powerful I was.”
Julie says she really fell in love with going to the gym routinely when she fixed her routine. She joined a gym that was closer to her house. “I almost didn’t give myself a choice - ‘You have to go.’ I like to think [I outsmarted myself].”
“I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable in your skin, and to avoid mirrors. I hate that there’s women out there who feel that way, so that’s why I do what I’m doing with social media,” she says with passion. “I want to put the message out there that we’re allowed to feel beautiful. As women, I think it’s vital that we feel beautiful and confident. Because if we don’t, life just passes you by, and life’s too short to not be crazy about yourself.”
“Even on my bad days… I still have my days where I feel like my stomach isn’t flat enough or my hair doesn’t look good or my eyebrows aren’t perfect... What’s different now is that at the end of every day, I know that I’m amazing. I know that I’m unique. I know that I’m one-of-a-kind, no one’s ever gonna be me. So, why not embrace that, you know?”
“I’m happy now. I don’t feel like I need to a whole lot of changes anymore. Except for my education. That’s what I’m pursuing right now.” After working in special education classrooms for six years, Jules is pursuing a degree in psychology. “I have to keep going. I can’t lose my momentum.”
Every day, Julie reminds herself of goals accomplished. And when days get rough, she will tell herself all the good things she knows about herself. “It might sound silly to people, but looking at yourself and saying these things to yourself, you start to believe them. You are your actions, and you’re speaking it into existence. You have to believe it.”