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Weight Watchers winner is no longer hiding

Huntington Beach resident Julie Real took a friend's death as a cue to start shedding pounds.

October 21, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Left: A photo of Julie Real taken in March 2012; the following month she joined Weight Watchers. Right: Julie Real, 31, after losing 91 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Left: A photo of Julie Real taken in March 2012; the following… (Julie Real / Kevin…)

Until last year, Julie Real avoided being seen.

She dreaded requests by her husband, an effervescent and social person, to visit the beach, park or bars.

Photographs were largely a no-no.

The only times she faced a camera was at the births of her two daughters and on major holidays. Otherwise, she ducked out of sight and hid behind people or otherwise ensured that video cameras missed her.

The reason? Her weight.

It wasn't until a friend died from a brain aneurysm in late 2011 that she decided it was time to change her habits. Even though her friend's death wasn't weight-related, the shock inspired Real to think about her own mortality.

"Her daughter was so little that she was not going to remember her mom, and any memories she would have would be from videos and pictures," Real said. "I had no pictures of me and my daughters because I was so heavy and didn't like to be photographed.

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"It hit me that, God forbid if something were to happen to me, my daughters would literally have nothing to remember me by."

Spurred to action, she began altering her bad eating habits and gradually dropped 10 pounds.

Being photographed at her surprise birthday party in early 2012 cemented her determination. All it took was one glance, and the Huntington Beach resident knew it was time to stop hiding.

"I was an 'everything eater,'" she said. "I ate when I was bored, tired and stressed, and I didn't make the effort to make wise decisions. It's funny because if I'd eaten the way I fed my kids, I wouldn't have gone through what I did."

While balancing the myriad duties of parenting and her job as an event coordinator, Real, 31, admitted to grabbing easy-to-access, and usually unhealthy, food. Del Taco bean and cheese burritos and Goldfish crackers were at the top of the list.

Last April, she joined Weight Watchers — for the third time — and began keeping track of her food intake and the points assigned to each item. Although she'd given the service a try before her wedding and again after delivering her first child, Real yo-yoed and kept packing on the pounds.

This time, though, she stuck to her plan and attended weekly meetings, where she was weighed in, often crying but always relishing the support and inspiration gained from others facing the same battle. Unlike previous attempts at weight loss, she also tacked on daily exercise during her children's afternoon nap.

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