Julie Celebrates 45 Years with her “WHY?” and Newly Found Body Love

Posted on Posted in Courageous Spirit Sunday Series, Personal Growth
Julie Stull
After 30 years of wishing for a thin body, Julie is loving her lean, fit, strong, healthy, curvy body.

This is a guest post by Julie Stull-Holt. I worked with Julie as her dietitian and now call her a friend. I hope her story enlightens you, as there are a couple very important messages.

“What is your why?” was the question I was asked. My daughter and I purchased Groupons for bootcamp to try something new.  For most of my adult life, I made working out and what I thought was “eating healthy.”  I have always tried to get 3-4 workouts in a week using the latest tape I had purchased from an infomercial, or going to a park district class.  I have never had a gym membership, as I never cared for that environment.  We were both anxious to try out these bootcamp classes.

We were required to attend an orientation prior to starting the actual classes.  This is where we learned about their program and were asked “what is your why?”   Well, I am what society calls “pear-shaped” and for as long as I can remember (probably since Jr. High), I wanted to be skinny and have thin hips and thighs.  My lower body is a size and sometimes two sizes bigger than my upper body.  Therefore, my why was simple: to be skinny and have thin, toned hips and thighs, like my sister-in-law or my oldest and dearest friend.  They were both skinny, not hippy, and neither of them had to work at it either.  If only I could look like them.

After this we were asked again “what is your why?” – not your superficial “I want to look like a supermodel” why, but is your true motivator for desiring to live a healthy lifestyle, why.  I really needed to give this one some thought.  The initial superficial why was easier because I had thought about it since Jr. High.

We started bootcamp and both instantly loved these classes.  I found it more challenging than other workouts I had done in the past.  After class one evening, about two weeks into bootcamp, the trainer again asked “what is your why?”  This brought me to tears. I had thought about this for the last two weeks and just at that moment realized my why.  MY FAMILY.  I told the trainer that I had lost my first husband, the father of my children, to cancer at a very young age.  In fact, my daughter was approaching the age that her father was when he learned he had stomach cancer, just 25 years old.   As wives and mothers, I believe we set the example in our homes.  “Do as I say not as I do” has never resonated with me.  I believe if I live a healthy, moral lifestyle, am good to others etc., this will resonate with those that I am closest to – my daughter, son and husband.

I continued with bootcamp well past the Groupon and started to see some results, dropped some weight, started to get some upper body strength and best of all had amazing energy, although the proportions of my lower body remained the same – still a size bigger than the upper body.  A few months into starting boot camp the facility offered a challenging program of diet and exercise in order to fit into a pair of jeans that were currently 2 sizes too small.  I tried the program, learned how to eat more healthy than I ever have, and had great success.


My husband’s name is John and we have been married for 7 years now.  In the ten years that I have known John, his weight has gone up and down several times.  I love John because he is a wonderful person and those who know him will tell you what a great guy he is.  His fluctuation in weight never bothered me, but I know it bothers him.  What does concern me is his health.  John is an athlete and loves competition.  He always says that he would rather play softball or basketball or golf for exercise instead of doing cardio or working out at a gym.  I started to think that boot camp would be a great thing for John to try but every time I brought boot camp up he was disinterested.  He was at the point at which his weight was up again and he was extremely frustrated. I hated seeing him like this.  I put a gift card for boot camp in his Christmas stocking. Let’s just say this was NOT A GOOD IDEA.   So I continued bootcamp on my own as my daughter was now living in South America.

My husband continued to notice how much energy I had and how great I felt, but at the same time listened to my woes of poor backend (behind, booty) body image.  He would always say I was crazy and looked great.  After a few months the jeans program was coming back to boot camp and I told my husband I was going to do the challenge again. To my surprise, he wanted to hear more about it and decided it was time that he tried it out.  I was super excited about this and let the trainer know my husband was going to be in the contest.  Did I say earlier that John is competitive?  Our 5-person team (which also included my mom and two amazing other women) did awesome and took first place in the competition, defeating 25 other teams.

We have done several of these competitions since then and our teams have consisted of other family members and friends.  John is always our fearless leader and he has continued with boot camp.  He feels and looks great.  Just recently we started again in the competition, only this time my daughter (who is now a trainer at the boot camp facility) and I were trying something new and even more challenging.  The diet was very strict and we started heavy strength training, which was new for me.  I thought for sure this would be my time – I will be skinny!!!  The program is 9 weeks and in the last few days I will be 45 and I will be skinny!!!

Strength training is tough and I love it!  I felt so strong and I started to look strong but not like my sister-in-law or my dear friend who are thin.  I finally realized just before the finish of this competition that I will never be skinny, I will never have small hips and thighs, AND AT 45 I AM FINALLY OK WITH THIS, because what I am is lean, fit, healthy, and most importantly my family is healthy.

I wish it did not take me so long to realize that my superficial why was just that – superficial, but my real why is that which is truly pushes me to be a better person each day – MY FAMILY!!!

Now what is your why?

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