Who’s that Girl? Three years ago, I saw a holiday party photo that would change my life. I recognized one person in the image but not the woman seated snugly next to him—with the swollen cheeks, sagging chin, hefty arms and rows of mass around the belly. It was me. I was, at size 16, fatter than I’d ever been in my life.

Taking Charge: The first thing that I did was to buy an elliptical machine, since I preferred to work out in the privacy of my home. Then I told my family and everyone close to me, which not only expanded my support network but strengthened my resolve.

Changing for Good: I also had to embrace the idea of slow and steady progress. And in two months, people started to notice the gradual weight loss. At six months, I had gone down a size and increased my vitality, muscle tone and stamina. At 12 months, I was down to a size 10 and more energetic and positive about my life than I had been in years. Today, I am a size 8 and I continue to exercise every week and eat sensibly. The plan is to stay healthy for the rest of my life.

What Juleyka did:

  • Exercised for at least one hour 4-5 times per week
  • Cut down dramatically on processed carbs and sugars, such as those found in soda
  • Did not eat after 7 p.m.
  • Reduced meal portions by half and had healthier snacks between meals
  • Used herbal supplements such as aloe vera juice and flaxseed oil to maintain digestive health

Juleyka’s advice:  

  • Commit to a long-term goal.
  • Enlist the support of your family and loved ones.
  • Learn about nutrition, the digestive properties of food and the inner workings of your body, so you know exactly what your body will do with the food you put in it.
  • Prepare your own food, even lunches, so you control what you eat.