Fitness + Well-being

How running helped this woman change her lifestyle — and lose 70 pounds

julie arthur runners world

 (Courtesy Julie Arthur/Runner's World)

 “It’s amazing how much better I feel when I fuel my body right and exercise.”

By Julie Arthur

Name: Julie Arthur
Age: 26
Occupation: Industrial Hygienist
Hometown: Beaufort, NC

How long have you been running?
I have been running since October of 2015.

What prompted you to start?
I started running because I wanted to lose weight and get healthier overall. I was very unhappy with the way I looked, and I decided it was finally time to do something about it. My motivation to make a change came from starting a new job and wanting to be the best I could be. At my new job, I have access to a gym, track, and a trail so there was no reason not to get in shape.

How often do you run?
I run about five days per week.

What is your routine?
Mondays are my off day but I still make time to stretch, do yoga, and foam roll. On Tuesdays I meet with my running group and we do a three to five mile group run. Speedwork at the track is for Wednesdays—I use a speed training plan from my Runner’s World magazine. Thursdays I enjoy a three mile recovery run, and on Fridays I am completely off and I focus good nutrition so I am ready for my 10 to 20 mile long run on Saturday. On Sundays I do a slow, easy, three mile recovery run that is usually on treadmill.

Related: 5 Speed Workouts Every New Runner Should Try

Do you race? If so, how often, and what kind of races?
Yes, I try to do about one race per month. I do 5Ks and 10Ks mostly, but I’m currently training for my first half marathon on March 4 and my first full marathon in November 2017.

Do you engage in other sports or activities? If so, what and how often?
I play on an adult league slow pitch softball team in the spring and the fall, a beach volleyball league in the summer, and an adult kickball league in the fall.

What’s the most rewarding part of running for you?
There are so many. Some of my favorite benefits of running are building strong friendships with my running group, seeing the results of my speedwork show up on my long runs when I get faster, and seeing my body change as I become more of an athlete. I also love the way I feel after a run and my increased overall happiness from being healthy and exercising. I cherish having a few hours of time to myself on a long run, and getting to explore different areas. In all, everything about running is rewarding to me.

Related: 4 Ways to Enjoy Long Runs

Please describe your weight loss journey, including your before and after weights.
Before I started running and eating well, I was 205 pounds. While I was in grad school, my friends and I went out every night drinking, stayed out until the bars closed, and then went to Taco Bell before going home. I rarely cooked at home and often ate out. Looking back at what I ate then makes me realize just how unhealthy I was. I would cook a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese and eat the entire box or eat an entire frozen pizza and wash it all down with Dr. Pepper, and then go to Cookout or Taco Bell later—gross. I joined Weight Watchers in July of 2013 and now I weigh 133.5 pounds and I’ve been able to keep it off by exercising and maintaining my healthy eating.

What is the secret to your weight loss success?
Weight Watchers put me on the right track and taught me how to make healthier choices, but I was finally determined and motivated to lose the weight and get healthier for me. The support from my family and friends was also very important in this process. They understood that I was trying to be healthier and were very accommodating. 

How do you stay motivated?
The way I feel when I’m exercising and eating well is enough to keep me motivated. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I fuel my body right and exercise. My running group also keeps me motivated and they push me to be the best runner I can be. Looking back at my before and after photos motivates me to keep pushing to be the best version of myself.

Do you have any favorite motivational quotes?
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford
“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you’ve already done.” —Newt Gingrich

What are your current short and long term goals?
My current short term goals are to run a half marathon in under two hours and a full marathon in under 4:15. My long-term goal is to keep the weight off and continue to increase my overall fitness and to inspire as many people as I can throughout the process. 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I recently started a blog at iwasjustrundering.com where I tell my weight loss story and post weekly updates. 

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This article originally appeared on RunnersWorld.com.