GORGING on burgers, chips, sweets and three bottles of fizzy drinks every day – Julia Tobeck's weight was spiralling out of control.
She'd ballooned to a staggering 17 stone and was beginning to struggle with playing with her kids as she would get so out of breath.
Determined to do something about her weight, Julia, 26, from Austin, Texas, decided to cut out unhealthy foods and walk 10,000 steps a day.
She has since shed an impressive eight stone and dropped from a UK size 24 to size ten.
Julia said: "I look back at pictures of myself and sometimes I even find myself thinking 'Oh my gosh, how did I stop loving myself enough to let that happen?'
"Now, I feel like I can literally accomplish any type of obstacle this life is going to throw at me."
Julia first began piling on the pounds during her second pregnancy in 2014, saying she felt like she had an excuse to give up on her diet.
She said: "During my pregnancy in 2014/2015 I stopped working out and started eating horrible.
"Like uncontrollable and no longer caring about what was healthy, not healthy.
“Just eating to eat because I felt like I had the excuse to do so.”
She ended up bingeing on burgers, chips, tacos, desserts and sweets and drinking fizzy drinks every day.
In particular, her favourite daily drink was Cherry Coke which has a shocking 70g of sugar in the 20 fl oz bottles, which is over half a litre per bottle.
Julia soon realised her weight was taking it's toll – as she began to struggle with playing in the park with her kids.
I use to be an athlete so being overweight and unable to perform a simple daily task, such as playing with my kids at the park without being exhausted became embarrassing
She said: "I use to be an athlete ever since 7th grade, so being overweight and unable to perform a simple daily task, such as playing with my kids at the park without being exhausted became embarrassing.
"I knew I had to regain control of my health because they deserved more from me, I deserved more from myself."
Julia cut out unhealthy foods and processed sugar, drank more water, and began cooking her own meals rich in protein and fibre consisting of lean meats, fish and vegetables.
She also used the elliptical machine for 30 minutes daily and aimed to walk 10,000 steps everyday, using a Fitbit to keep track of her workouts.
Julia would try keeping active throughout the day, even if it meant taking a walk during her lunch break.
The mother-of-two then began incorporating weight training into her workouts, but despite struggling with confidence in the gym at first, she powered through with a "Yes I Can" attitude, she said.
Julia said: "I had attempted to lose the weight multiple times, and would always get discouraged when I didn't see immediate results, so I told myself that this time no matter how small the progress seemed, I was not going to give up.
"'I had to get into the mindset of Yes. I. Can.' and realise that I was in the position with my health because of me, I had no one to blame, so therefore it was going to be up to me to fix it.
"I was in complete control of how this journey was going to go.
"The challenge and struggle with weight loss is 100% mental and you just have to realise it is up to you."
Julia managed to lose almost eight stone in around two and a half years, and now feels more confident than ever.
She said: "You realise what your mind and body are capable of and you want to continuously challenge yourself and push you limits so you can grow and continue getting stronger."
Julia stresses the importance of loving yourself throughout your weight loss journey, and not just at the end of it.
She added: "I feel that I am an overall better mum, wife, friend, co-worker, person in general because I learned how to love myself.
"You have to be able to love yourself before you can love and take care of another."
Julia's weight loss advice
Julia has encouraged people embarking on a weight loss journey to celebrate the small milestones and to believe in themselves regardless of what others think.
She says: "That the time is going to pass regardless, so why not make the most of it? Don't compare, it really is the thief of joy.
"Find someone, something, a quote that just lights a fire within you and keep looking at it, because once you start to believe in that you will start to believe in yourself.
"Celebrate the small milestones. Whether it's walking a certain number of steps a day, drinking a certain amount of water, only losing 2lbs to 4lbs the first month, dropping a pant size in two months.
"Whatever it is just remind yourself that you are doing the best you can..and once you feel that fire light, keep going.
"You will become unstoppable in what you set out to achieve."
Julia now practises intuitive eating where she stops eating when she is "no longer hungry" and drinks a lot of water daily to keep hydrated.
She said: "I knew from the get go that I didn't want to live my life "on a diet" and that I do believe diets work everything is about moderation!
"I no longer cut out all carbs/sugars from my diet, but I always make sure that if I'm going to have a "cheat meal" that I make the next meal healthy.
"I still drink half my weight in ounces of water a day, and I eat intuitively while listening to my body.
"I eat when I'm hungry, and if I'm not hungry I don't.
"I've also learned to eat until I'm 'no longer hungry' rather then eating to the point where 'I'm stuffed/full'."
Julia exercises five to six times a week and regularly attends spin classes in her local studio.
If she is unable to make it for a class, Julia does a routine 30 minute run followed by a 15 minute plyometrics workout at home.
She said: "I have fallen in love with indoor cycling and I currently attend spin classes and the studio near me called CycleBar.
"On the days I can't make a class I go for a 30min run followed by a 15min plyometrics/HIIT workout at home.
“I try to stay active five to six days a week because my body just feels better.
"I always take a rest day and at least go for a walk or take the kids outside to stay active as well."
I feel that I am an overall better mum, wife, friend, co-worker, person in general because I learned how to love myself
She has since started her own Instagram page, @julesfit.journey to track her progress where she posts before and after pictures of her weight loss transformation.
Over the past few months, she has gained over 14.6K followers who join her in supporting her journey.
Speaking about her page, Julia said: "I wanted to be able to track my progress, and also in hopes that people were going to follow it would be a way to hold myself accountable.
"The support has been amazing.
"There are always going to be a handful of negative people or people who don't believe what they see, which I understand with how many people alter their images.
"I promised myself that I would always keep it real and natural on my page, and I plan to keep my page one for motivation and inspiration, so take the bad vibes somewhere else."
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