Many readers of my book have written me to ask about my running pal, Julie. Her story of losing half her bodyweight has touched a lot of people, and some of you have told me your own stories of dropping a significant amount of weight.  I’m so proud of Julie for her commitment to herself and of those of you who have been on similar journeys! Julie has promised to give me an interview next week, which I’ll transcribe and post here for you, but until then, let me remind you how she and I met and how I watched out my window as she reached her goal.

Julie already lived in our neighborhood of townhomes when Bill and I bought our unit. She was a friendly woman who walked her little Cairn terrier past our window twice a day. Bill and I liked her right away because she was high energy and interested in others. She greeted every neighbor with the same bright smile and series of sincere questions about our well-being. A labor and delivery nurse by profession, Julie had the aura of one who cared.

Julie was also a large woman. In fact, it seemed to us, as we watched from our window (just so you know, the only window in the lower half of all our units looks directly onto the street at street level—we weren’t spying) that she was heavy against all odds. Julie walked at least an hour every day in addition to the hours she spent on her feet at the hospital. As I mentioned in the book, I come from a family of people who struggle with obesity, but in my family people are pretty sedentary. Julie was anything but sedentary and yet she was still fighting more than a hundred extra pounds.

One day, my two little dogs went ballistic as Julie and Miss Ricki passed our window. Bill and I glanced up from what we were doing and noticed that Julie looked like she was losing weight. We commented to each other that she looked good and then went on our way. This happened from time to time over the next several months until one day when our dogs barked, Bill said to me, “Who is that woman walking Miss Ricki this morning?”

I said, “It’s Julie, I think.”

“She’s lost a lot of weight,” he said.  I looked more closely at her from inside my cozy home and thought, Sure enough! I wonder how she’s done it?

Now all this time, we never talked to Julie. It isn’t because we are antisocial; it’s because Julie worked nights at the hospital, so when she walked passed our window, we were either in our rushed morning routine of getting ready for work or, during her evening walks, having dinner.  But then one day, I happened to arrive home just as Julie was heading home from one of her later walks and we started to chat.

She had, indeed, lost well over 100 pounds and, it turned out, she was training to run a marathon!

So how did she do it? And why now? Julie has told me that she was “heavy in a family of skinny people” her whole life. She’s told me (and I’m authorized to tell you) that she felt loved and accepted by her family and that she loved and accepted herself, but that she knew her weight was taking its toll on her joints and on her ability to move about the world. She’d given herself a target weight decades ago, but had never been able to get there.

Let me assure you that she’s at her target now, and she’s maintained it for several years at this point. I do a lot more than watch Julie from my window these days. I run with her a few times a week. I also talk to her almost every day as she heads off to the gym or to the pool. She is an inspiration to me, often showing more commitment to her health and goals than I can muster myself.

And that’s the end of what I’ll say about Julie. Next week I’ll be interviewing her and transcribing the interview so you can hear from her yourself. If you have questions you’d like me ask her, send ‘em on to me.

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