Meet Julie | Aim4Strength Fitness | Personalized Fitness Training

Julie’s Story

Hello, my friends! My name is Julie Smith. If you would have told me that I was going to become a personal trainer, I would have told you that you were crazy! I have been heavy all of my life—I do mean since age 5. At age 18 I was 200 pounds.

After my last child was born, I was 280 pounds.

I continued to gain weight, and even went to a physician to talk about getting a gastric bypass. I was 40 when I went to see about a gastric bypass and had essentially been 300 pounds for many years.

I decided to start the process for bariatric surgery, and what should have been a happy and exciting time just left me even more frustrated and depressed with myself. I knew in my heart that I would continue eating through the surgery because it wouldn’t fix my head. I decided against the surgery and basically made peace with the fact that I was going to be morbidly obese for the rest of my life until we had a biggest loser contest at work. Everyone was putting in money, and they were all thinner than me. I absolutely knew that since I was bigger, I could win; and the caveat was that I gave myself permission to gain it all back, because I really had made peace with being obese for the rest of my life.

I started a walking group, I started weight watchers and made it my mission to WIN THE MONEY. I knew I would fall off the wagon from time to time, and I was ok with that, because the prize was more important than the weight. After being in the contest for 6 months, I won! I was happy it was over so I could go back to my old eating habits. But shortly after that, another contest was beginning and again, the money was my motivator.

I won the second contest as well. Now I was 80 pounds down and liked the way I was feeling and I continued my learned habits of exercise and eating better. By this time I had realized that I had a new goal, losing weight! The quickest and most consistent weight loss that I had learned was running, a lot of running, like Forest Gump running.

Once I hit my goal weight, I started enjoying my life by doing all the things that I wasn’t able to do because of my former larger size. I jumped out of an airplane, went zip lining, Parasailing. Flew on airplanes comfortably and was able to ride the rides at Disney Land without the fear of not being able to fit into the ride. One of the most satisfying moments was when I could cross my legs when I sat down – it was amazing! I could now wear shorts and tank tops in public for the first time in years.

However, I still looked the same—I was skinny fat. I had extra skin that I had to tuck and fluff into my clothes, and didn’t like what I looked like in the mirror.

Being an extreme person and knowing that I like a challenge, I set to the task of making a change. I decided to sign up for a body building contest. Being in a tiny bikini was motivation enough to stay on task of filling in my extra skin with muscle. I tried a few trainers that were not compatible for me and decided to hit the internet only to find that no one would work with me. One trainer told me that I had wing backed scapula and that I probably would not be a good candidate for a body building contest. It only fueled my determination to do the best I could and prove that person wrong. I finally found two wonderful trainers Melanie and Marla who helped me with nutrition and exercise. Both were kind, inspirational and supportive. I did my first figure completion 2014 and won my division.

I did a bikini competition in April of 2015 and came in dead last.

I fell into a tailspin of eating everything and gained 15 pounds right away. I knew that another challenge was just as important for my head as it was for my body. I had gained muscle, felt better about myself and why let one defeat define me? So, of course, being extreme, I decided to sign up for a power lifting meet. I had no idea what to expect.

I had to wear a onesie and had to lift HEAVY. I hungrily sucked up any information I could about powerlifting. I had a coach for the last month of my program, and felt stronger than ever. I went to that meet thinking I would not fit in. After all, I am an older lady that doesn’t lift that much. The people there were helpful and I had the best time, and won my division. Lifting heavy has increased my self esteem, filled in extra skin and left me hungry to do more than eat.

I want to share my experiences with others and show that anyone can reach their goals whatever they might be. My goal started with wanting to win money, but I won so much more!