Name: Julie Leroy
Height: 5 feet, 3 inches
Before Weight: 258 pounds
How I Gained It: I’m a compulsive overeater, and this was a completely learned behavior that started in childhood with help from my parents, who were both compulsive overeaters. It would be nothing for my mom to serve a seven-course dinner on a Tuesday and the very next day go on yet another diet, serving chicken with no skin and a potato with fat-free margarine. I started sneaking foods and drinking Tab when I was 9 years old.
While I wasn’t considered obese until I rapidly gained 75 pounds in college. I struggled with every morsel of food I ingested. I didn’t yo-yo — I steadily gained. I managed to successfully lose weight in my 20s, but I quickly put that back on — plus a few more — shortly after. I was unhappily married, and during that time, my weight spiraled out of control. After the birth of my son in 1993, I became so heavy that the largest size in the only plus-size clothing store in my town at the time became tight.
But here’s the strangest part: I sincerely believed that no one noticed! I hid behind nice clothes and made up my pretty face with an expert touch.
Breaking Point: I experienced highs and lows regarding my compulsive overeating, but in retrospect, I never had any one breakthrough moment. But I did have a few wake-up calls, and one in particular.
When my son was 5, he asked me if I was fat while we were at the dinner table. I turned to him with forkful of food just ready to be stuffed in my mouth and spoke the truth. He had probably overheard someone saying something about my weight, and at that moment I realized that not only was I ashamed, I was creating unhealthy habits in my son that I was hoping not to pass on.
How I Lost It: I will tell you my best secret for successful weight loss: Don’t tell anyone you’re doing it! The embarrassment of people watching and reminding you of what you should and shouldn’t be eating is far too great for the strongest person to sustain.
Here’s my other secret: I became an Atkin’s Diet warrior. I didn’t measure my foods, but I enjoyed lots of meat and proteins. I admit my protein choices were sometimes on the fatty side, but I stuck to it. It was excruciatingly difficult cutting out those carbs, but after I saw that I had lost 11 pounds in my first week, it became a bit easier.
I also joined Overeaters Anonymous because I finally faced the facts: I have no power over food. OA is great place for people who are seeking spirituality in their lives, and the support was amazing. It was difficult to listen to so many stories from people in pain, but OA became a safe place for me. Within a year of cutting carbs and attending meetings regularly, I had lost 100 pounds. Although I was a healthy weight at that point, I went even further and dropped down to 133 pounds, but over the years, my weight has evened out to 155 pounds.
I do fall off the wagon here and there, but I’ve come to realize that bingeing on unhealthy foods just isn’t worth it — I suffer from physical discomfort and negative emotions when I do. Overall, I feel better on a low-carb diet, but I do tend to turn to carbs when I’m feeling stressed because they’re more convenient.
While I have enjoyed milestones in my fat-to-thin journey, one in particular stands out: I went to an OA meeting and saw someone I met at the beginning of my 12-step program. He told me I looked fabulous, and I was convinced it was because of the time I had spent on my makeup. Years later, I realized that he was complementing me not for my mascara but for my transformation!
After Weight: 155 pounds
Julie has maintained her weight loss for an amazing 12 years.