Nelson mother Julie Redwood can remember struggling to walk down the road and being in pain while tying her shoelace.
She weighed close to 130kg and had recently watched her overweight mother die at the age of just 57. It may sound like a dark place to be and it was, says Julie, but without it she may not be where she is today. She’s now 50kg lighter with a diploma on the wall and is helping others lose weight and improve their lives.
Julie says she was always overweight, at 15 years old she weighed 15 stone, or 97kg. She suffered from low self-esteem and confidence and had yo-yo dieted for most of her life.
Shortly after she was married and had her first child Julie says her husband lost his job, making money tight. “I couldn’t even afford to go out for coffee with a friend. But one thing I could afford to do was bake so I baked and I ate and I got up to 129kg again.”
That was just 1kg off the heaviest she’d ever weighed. “I was really shocked, I didn’t think I’d see that number on the scales again. Then my mum died, I watched her die of cancer at age 57 and I didn’t want that to be a legacy for my kids. We had two more kids and when my youngest was a year old I made the decision to change my life.”
Her first walk with her year old daughter was tough. “We walked up the hill and every time I stopped to catch my breath I’d lean over say ‘I promise I’ll never be this weight again and I promise I’ll never be this unfit again’. She was only a year old so didn’t really care but it was a promise to me, a commitment to myself that this is it, this is a lifestyle change.”
Julie began to eat healthy food, exercised more and as she lost weight her confidence grew. In 2011 she took another big step, enrolling to study at NMIT. “When I was growing up I felt that because I was fat I must be lazy, because those two go together, and that means you’re stupid. So those were the labels I’d put on myself. So when I studied and realised that I wasn’t stupid or lazy or fat it was a real eye-opener, it was a huge change.”
Julie graduated with a diploma of applied fitness, with merit, last year and is also about to complete a wellness coaching paper, studying the physiologically behind change with a health and fitness aspect. She says she is now working as a personal trainer and some of her clients are overweight. She says watching them reach the milestones she remembers gives her a huge buzz.
“It’s really exciting seeing some of my clients achieving things they couldn’t do a couple of months ago, it’s really cool and it gives me a real buzz. It wasn’t that long ago that I was there so I remember how hard it is.”
She says the hardest part about the whole journey was the battle with her own mind. “For me, I placed such little value on myself, I thought I was nothing, so what was the point? I may as well eat because it’s something that I enjoy and it’s something that doesn’t judge me and it’s something that I can control. I needed to change for me. When I did it for me I think that was the change, when I valued myself enough.”
For more information about Julie’s new business search Embodiment on Facebook.