12/30/2013 08:40 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Julie Nguyen Quit Smoking Cold Turkey To Be Able To Run And Lost 105 Pounds

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Name: Julie Nguyen
Age: 31
Height: 5'1"
Before Weight: 245 pounds

How I Gained It: I have been "chubby" all my life. My parents separated when I was very young, so growing up I ate a lot of fast food and TV dinners. Even in my young-adult years, I still ate boxed dinners and preserved foods. I often drank soda and juice because I didn't like water. I became obese after I moved from southern California to Seattle. I was stuck in an unhealthy relationship and turned to food for comfort with little to no exercise. Depression set in.

Breaking Point: I had back pain, shortness of breath and I had lost all self-esteem.

How I Lost It: It started by taking walks on my breaks and at lunchtime at work. I started to eat less and seek healthier options. I cut out sugary beverages and focused on portion control. I immediately felt better about myself. Every pound lost was motivation to keep going. Setting small, short-term goals, like five or 10 pounds, was easier to achieve than 50, and I would reward myself for each small success. I accepted falling off the wagon if I got right back on.

After I lost my first 30 pounds or so, a friend suggested I join a gym with her. I was hesitant and self-conscious. The thought of working out in a gym with "Kens" and "Barbies" made me uncomfortable. However, my friend took me to the local YMCA, which was a more family-friendly environment. We joined, and I started working out with her. I was having fun and taking classes like Zumba. The weight started to melt off, and I was down 30 to 40 more pounds. Once I hit a plataeu, I pushed harder or tried something new. I decided to partake in my first 5K run/walk. In training for this, I quit smoking, cold turkey. I was a routine smoker for 14 years with no plans to quit, until it became a choice between running and smoking. I wanted to finish that race more than I wanted to continue my bad habits.

Then I started to cook healthfully and rewarded myself only occasionally. I incorporated fresh fruits and veggies and limited carbs. Small snacks every couple hours helped keep me from being hungry and kept me energized. I started cooking lean meats and eating them with a large salad. Within a few more months I had lost a total of 100 pounds!

I never counted calories. I plan meals for the week on Sundays. I allow myself to eat more freely on weekends in moderation with exercise. I traded in my bad habits for good ones. It's a complete lifestyle change, but well worth it.

I am more athletic now than I ever thought I could be. I go to bootcamp workouts, hiking, to hot yoga. I change up my routine so my body doesn't get acclimated. Physical activity and health is a priority for me. My attitude toward life has completely changed. I am a positive and happy person, no longer anxious or self-conscious. I love inspiring others. I feel that if I can do it, so can you. Before, I thought I had every reason to fail. But here I am. I am finally comfortable in my own skin. I feel proud of myself (which says a lot). I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to! I know I'm not perfect, but I no longer feel the need to be.

After Weight: 140 pounds
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