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February 2012

Meet a Shrinking Sister: Julia

Last week, we met my friend Robin, who lost 80 pounds through diet and exercise. Today, I want you to meet my friend Julia. (I also used to work with her in California.) Hers is a different weight-loss journey and there have been some tremendous life events that she has had to go through on the way.

Julia, 56, editorial assistant, California

How much did you lose? I’ve lost around 91 pounds. My BMI has gone from around 50 to 34. I want to lose an additional 50 or so.

Julia before
Julia, before.

How long did it take? I’m still working it. I saw my lap-band surgeon in September 2008 and started a pre-op diet that was supposed to be six months but lasted 10 because I had pneumonia in the middle. I lost around 45 pounds before my surgery in July 2009.

How did you do it with food? With the lap-band, you have small part of the top of your stomach restricted so that it only holds about an egg’s worth of food. The food then moves into the larger part of your stomach. The restriction means you feel full faster. However, the restriction also means that some foods will get “stuck” and will either pass through very slowly or come back up. As you lose weight, the band needs to be tightened by injecting saline into a silicone and titanium port that rests just below the skin. It only takes a few minutes and with lidocaine, you hardly feel anything.


I eat a high-protein diet with a lot of cheese, Greek yogurt, lean meat and beans, plus a high-protein shake for breakfast. I shoot for 75g–100g of protein a day. I need to eat nutritionally dense food because smaller quantities need to count. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to eat cookies, ice cream and candy, so it’s possible to fall off the wagon.

My losing efforts took a hit for about a year after my husband suffered a debilitating stroke in April 2010. I took a three-month family leave during his hospitalization and eventual placement in a nursing home. I suddenly had to learn to be a single parent and run a household that’s a 40-mile commute from work.


Julia after
Julia, today.

I recommitted to my weight-loss efforts in September when I started a blog I’m With the Band ( and started losing again.


How did you do it with exercise: I have not added any exercise to my life. I do work on the second floor of a building without an elevator, and often have to park in distant parking lots. My company has a free gym adjacent to our building, but I can never get up early enough to spare an hour of my day. Since I visit my husband on the way home from work, I often don’t get home until 8:30 or 9, and I’m too pooped for even housework. I know my results would be better with exercise, but at this time, I don’t know how I’ll work it in without serious sleep deprivation.

Biggest motivation: My health. Before starting weight-loss, I was taking the maximum dose of two diabetes medications, plus three for high blood pressure, one for low thyroid and one for cholesterol. I’ve been able to cut the diabetes medications and take a lower dose of thyroid medicine. Being alive for my daughter is a big motivator.

Words of wisdom: Nobody’s going to lose the weight for you — you’ve gotta do it yourself. Use whatever tools are available to you.

The Distracted Girl's Guide to Exercise


Workout calendar

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy exercising. It's sticking to a program that is my Achilles heel. Every time I print out a rotation calendar for a fitness program or get a "30 days to something or other" DVD, my mind starts to wander after less than a week.

 So I came up with my own rotation. It provides three days of cardio, two days of resistance, a day of something "stretchy" and a rest day. I've written these broad terms on my calendar for the month of February and when I complete it, I get a check mark. (I need to buy myself some shiny stars.) Here's how it goes:


I have to start the week running. It usually provides my best calorie burn of the week and it's a symbolic way to "hit the ground running." This Monday, the day started off rainy but I waited for the clouds to part somewhat and jogged through the drizzle. Makes you feel extra badass.

TUESDAY: Weights

This can be something like ChaLean Extreme, a Jackie Warner DVD, or something else involving weights, resistance bands or a body-weight workout (lunges, squats, etc.). I did Jackie's 30-Day Fast Start one day last week, and her pyramid style routine killed my upper body ... but in a good way.


The category is wide open for anything dancy -- Zumba, Jazzercise, Hip-Hop Abs, or a Wii or Xbox workout like Dance Central or Just Dance. (I just got Just Dance 3, and while it may look like a video game, my BodyMedia FIT tells me it's also a great way to torch calories.) I recently got Jazzercise Burlesque and it's a fun, flirty workout (but don't let your kid catch you doing it; he'll be mortified for life.)


Same thing as Tuesday but it doesn't have to be the same workout.


This can be a kickboxing-intensive workout like Turbo Jam or something from Billy Blanks. His PT 24/7 is a great new set with such good instruction that I FINALLY figured out how to do a proper side kick. I also absolutely love the DVD that came with Robert Ferguson's Food Lovers Fat Loss program. Robert is a really fun and motivating workout leader and he has a good kickboxing workout. It might be hard to find but there are a few sellers on Amazon that offer it.


This is either yoga or a stretching DVD. I especially like Ashley Turner's yoga workouts, and Tamilee Webb's Total Stretch for Beginners DVD is a classic that has two separate stretching programs.


When I mean "off" I don't mean sacking out on the couch. My Sundays usually involve grocery shopping and laundry, so there's a little somethin-somethin for activity.

Tunes for Tuesday: 'Soldier' by Ingrid Michaelson

Thought I'd choose something from the "Music I Actually Listen To" category this week. I ended my run yesterday with this. Love the chorus:

And so it goes, this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won
But it can be won.

And feel free to substitute the word "heart" with whatever you want -- I do.

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Revolution Friday: Shhhh, don't tell Tim Gunn we do this


Today's tip is from style guru Tim Gunn: Comfort is important, but don’t resort to wearing workout clothes in public – except to the gym, of course. Invest in some simple but stylish “sweatsuit alternatives” like dark stretch pants and a wrap top. Make sure these are real items of clothing, not things you typically wear to the gym. You’ll look great and feel comfortable too. 


The Revolution features a team of experts that will help complete transformations in all areas of life including body, health, style, mind and environment by providing tips and tools to motivate viewers and serve as a catalyst for change. Featuring design expert Ty Pennington; style guru Tim Gunn; celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak; OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton; and therapist Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry. The Revolution airs weekdays at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on ABC. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter (@TheRevolution). For more information, visit (We were not compensated for these posts; we just like the show!)

Meet a Shrinking Sister: Robin

I'm starting something new -- spotlighting some pals who have lost weight. Perhaps their stories will give us all a little extra motivation. First up is my friend, Robin. We used to work together in California. (Robin mentions two weight-loss programs: Nutrisystem and Medifast. You can learn more about Nutrisystem in Carol's and Laura's reviews. You can read women's reviews of Medifast at

Robin, 50, senior editor at the American Heart Association, Texas

How much did you lose? 80 pounds (7 pounds below my initial goal).

How long did it take? A little more than a year, but I've gained and relost a few pounds twice since then.

Robin before
Robin, before.

How did you do it with food? I lost the initial weight with the Medifast program and kept it off about two years. When I saw that I had gained enough to be 6 pounds over my initial goal, I turned to Nutrisystem to jump-start things, then switched to my own food and a BodyBugg after a few months.

How did you do it with exercise? I was a total couch potato until the last few months on Medifast, and then I started walking on a treadmill and doing some DVD workouts (Slim in 6, Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds series, etc.). A couple of years ago, I started running on the treadmill, and then progressed to running regularly outside. I've completed two half marathons (using a run-walk-run method) and am registered for two more.

Robin after
Robin, after.

Biggest motivation: I thought it was looking better, but I later realized that it was really a family member's health problems.

Words of wisdom: Stay vigilant, and no matter what else happens, keep at least a few of your new habits (the ones I've never abandoned are exercise, eating every few hours, filling up on vegetables and including protein at every meal). Also, find new outlets for stress and emotions, to avoid emotional eating. Call a friend, go for a run, spend a day on the couch ... whatever it takes.