FALLING IN LOVE WITH LIFE AGAIN Julie Mendygral has lost an amazing 41.6kg
Since losing more than 40kg in 12 months, Julie Mendygral has revitalised her life and her 26-year marriage.
Julie Mendygral gets up well before the sun rises. The house is dark and quiet, with her husband, Barry, and two children, Justin, 23, and Erin, 18, still sound asleep. The moment she turns the light on, there’s a whining at the door. “It’s my little puppy dog,” says Julie. The young Jack Russell, Peady, has been loving the changes to Julie’s lifestyle since she joined Weight Watchers at the beginning of last year, particularly the daily walks.
“The day after I signed up with Weight Watchers, I started getting up at 6am and going for a 40-minute walk with the dog,” she says. “I now love my morning walks. I know I’ve been active and I feel happy for the rest of the day.”
It was January 6, 2016, when Julie went to her first meeting. A few weeks before that, she had attended a family wedding, and her memory of how she felt at the time isn’t a happy one. “I looked disgusting and I had to wear this black lace maxi dress and a bolero jacket to cover my arms. I felt bloated and hot, and it seemed like all the other ladies looked lovely in their summery dresses,” she says.
Julie had been a Weight Watchers member before. “My weight has always gone up and down,” she says. “Every time I regained it, the number on the scales went up a little more.”
This time, something clicked for her. “It just worked, and it kept working. It took me 12 months to get to Goal just before Christmas 2016,” she says.
The medical receptionist and mum of two quickly realised small new habits can lead to big health changes. While Julie had always eaten wholesome food, it was her large portion sizes and mindless ‘picking’ that she needed to curb. And her greatest change was fitting more exercise into her life.
She now tracks her steps with an activity tracker and goes to weekly Zumba classes. “I’m not coordinated or good at dancing, but it makes me smile and work up a good sweat,” she says. And then there’s the gym shed in her backyard that Julie and Barry set up together, with weights, a treadmill and a TRX suspension training kit. They do workouts together twice a week. “Barry’s into his fitness,” says Julie. “He motivates me to do a workout when I’m not really into it. I couldn’t have gotten to Goal without his help. He’s proud of what I’ve achieved and always tells me how good I look, which really helps with the self-esteem.”
Julie and Barry have always enjoyed trying new cafes and restaurants on weekends, so the only real difference is the walks they now incorporate – they’ll drive to a beach for a walk, then go for brunch once they’ve worked up an appetite. Julie feels their new shared love of exercise has revitalised their 26-year marriage. “We’re spending quality time together,” she says. “We’ve had a few holidays and weekends away recently – our relationship has really improved.”
They even embarked on their first overseas trip, to Thailand in March. “It was so nice to go overseas together, it was a big thing for us,” she says. “I ate and drank everything, and I didn’t put on any extra weight while I was away – I was just aware of what I was eating. The best thing about Weight Watchers is that I can eat whatever I want. It’s not about saying ‘no’ to anything; it’s about getting value for my Smartpoints. If someone offers me a lolly, I’ll turn it down because it’s 2 Smartpoints. I can have four crackers for the same amount and they’re going to fill me up much more.”
Wearing shorts on holiday was something Julie hadn’t done in a long time. “I had really bad varicose veins – my feet ached and I had terrible bruising because of them,” she says. After losing weight, Julie consulted a surgeon and had a couple of procedures to have the varicose veins removed. “Now I can wear shorts, I can wear skirts… I used to go to the beach, drop the sarong on the sand at the last minute and run to the water. Now I’ll happily walk on the beach in shorts or swimmers.”
Julie had also never worn a skirt to work. When she put one on recently, she took a selfie in the mirror in the same spot where she’d snapped a picture of herself the day she joined Weight Watchers. Then she put the two photos side by side and uploaded the comparison onto WW Connect. “I got something like 700 likes on it,” she says with a smile. “I think I’m on Connect more than I’m on Facebook these days. It’s a down-to-earth community; you can find support or get recipes. I love it.
“Life felt very blah before. Now, I often say to people, ‘I’m still me, just a happier, healthier version.’” #
The best thing is I can eat whatever I want. It’s not about saying ‘no’ to anything.