Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I used to think I was fat, then one day I was....

I remember in Jr. High and High School, I always thought I was fat. Constantly dieting in Jr.High to be thinner. It was the late 80's and skinny jeans ruled. Always having curves, I thought that I was overweight. In high school I was not super skinny but still not fat. I swam on the swim team and was very active. Body image was always a struggle for me in those years.
127 lbs graduating high school. My skinny days

I graduated, started working odd hours at Disneyland. 3 am trips to Denny's after work didn't help matters and I stopped exercising. I started slowly but surely gaining weight and suddenly realized, I had been thin.

The Disneyland days. Marty and I's engagement picture

I got married, had Conner a year and half later and became a busy working wife and mom. My Grandmothers were women who put their families ahead of themselves and that was something I learned from them. I remember Grandma telling me "It's not about you anymore" once I had Conner. 

Growing up, everyone in my family struggled with weight issues. My grandma's both were of short stature like myself and constantly battled when they were my age. My aunts and parents struggled with weight at one time or another.

Also facing chronic illness on both sides of the family, I am working hard to prevent heart disease, auto immune disorders and kidney failure. My family health history isn't pretty for the most part and I have a lot to battle in that department.

When I moved to Visalia, I weighed 202 lbs. I worked hard to lose fifty lbs and kept it off for three years. Then my Gramie died and I started gaining it back. Then several life changing events in the next three years caused stress and I just kept gaining.

Pregnant with Elizabeth, I managed to keep my first weight loss off

My heaviest ever. I saw this picture and it really motivated me to lose weight
Marty was diagnosed with end stage renal disease in 2007 and I ballooned to my highest weight ever during his sickness.  By the time he was well, I knew it was time for a change for everyone. We started riding our bikes, walking and working out together. 

Last year I met several people online who had completed major weight losses of their own. It inspired me to start my own weight loss journey. I set several benchmark goals for myself and so far I've met every one of them by the time allotted. 

My first goal was several five lb weight loss goals. Then my second goal was to be under 200 lbs by Olympic swim trials which I met. Then my third goal was to have hit 50lbs lost by the time of the Olympics. I am ten lbs away from that goal and think I can do it.

 It's not about looking good or being "thin" . I am blessed to have a husband who loves me no matter what size I am. It's just about feeling good, being healthy and taking care of myself. For the first time in nearly 15 years, I am doing something just for myself. 

So far, the proof has been in the mirror. I have been able to see myself getting thinner, Marty and the kids have been so encouraging. I am not only doing this for myself but for them. I hope to teach my kids healthy eating and being active is important. 

I have more energy, I am not tired and sore like I was before. I feel great and look forward to feeling even better. My new overall goal is to lose fifty more lbs for a 100 lb overall weight loss. After I hit my fifty lb goal my next goal is 70lbs lost by January 2013.  Then 30 lbs by April 2013 which will put me at the 100 lb mark. 

When I hit that goal, I intend to enjoy being that weight and not for once think of myself as fat. I learned that lesson the hard way. Being heavier, I never hated myself or felt badly, I just learned that I didn't have good body image before and vowed to never think that way about myself again. So the mental issue has been overcome for a long time, now to overcome the weight issue. I am well on my way.

Last August

One day the kids noticed that my face was thinner than in the picture above. It was so exciting!
My friend Andrea came to visit last year. One year later and I could really see the results of my hard work
Finally happy with what I am starting to see in the mirror. 40lbs lighter

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Picture is Worth at Least a Hundred Words

 Ever wonder the story a picture will tell years after you take it? Sometimes we just snap the picture, move on and forget about it. Not every picture has a story or any significant meaning other than a brief snapshot in time. You put them in albums or in my case, shove them in bins and only look at them when company comes or when you remember you need a picture.

I know where this picture sat, in a U-Haul box above a hall closet in the entryway of my Grandparents house on Scott. ave., the family home of over 51 years. In 2006, Grandma and Grandpa died eight weeks to the day of each other. My Dad and Aunts did a fabulous job of dividing everything up. Everyone got pictures and my Dad graciously let my sisters and I go through the pictures and chose some to keep.

This picture came out of that stash. It is probably one of the most precious photos in my life and something I never knew exsisted. My Grandmother's were friends and took their kids to Tijuana because obviously times were different and it was safe to do that. ( cracks me up)

This tells the story of two friends and their kids to the casual observer. For me, it is all of my aunts ( minus Maggie who was a baby, they weren't that cool to take a baby to Tijuana), uncles, parents and two grandmothers in one picture.

My parents were just kids, friends by default because their parents were friends. Nobody knew someday they would all have a common bond in children,grandchildren, nieces. For me, its a treasure having this picture and the story means even more.There's a level of sadness to the picture, lives changed by choices, friendships ended, and three of the people in the picture are no longer living.  I love seeing all of my aunts and uncles in the picture, my grandma's laughing and smiling. My parents in their youth, happy and carefree.

A picture is sometimes worth more than a hundred words.........

Left to right, Mike Brown (father), Gregg Davis ( uncle, deceased), Bill Brown ( uncle), Muriel Davis ( grandmother maternal), Jeanette Davis Shaw ( Aunt), Betty Brown ( grandmother), Sue Davis Brown (mother) bottom right: Alison Brown Valdez ( aunt), Patty Brown Carlton (aunt)

The picture is faded and worn, I need to look into having it re-touched and restored. I also need to get some copies made to share. The names on the hats particularly are funny. My Aunt Nette is a Lolita, My Aunt Al is Drunk Agave! Hilarious!

I wonder someday what pictures of me and my kids will be precious? What will have a story? Will my kids have a picture like this? I hope someday that I will know the answers to those questions.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Welcome Coupons By Answers.com

I would like to welcome my newest advertiser Coupons by Answers.com. Check out the widget on the right to find coupon codes for all your favorite online shopping sites.

Personally, I think that I will use this widget the most. I am forever hunting down coupon codes online and now I have a place to search. It's like one stop shopping for coupon codes.

I hope you all use it and enjoy saving money like I do!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Nice Legs, Guest Blog by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Today I have the extreme privilege of having my lovely friend Pamela Fagan Hutchins post as a guest on Just Jules.  You might remember the name from a few months back when I reviewed her book "Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans". I simply love to read her writing and am honored to host this guest blog.

I actually met Pamela via her husband Eric, he is often the star of her stories and I usually end up laughing at his expense. One of my favorite stories is one she is sharing with you today. Without further ado, I will let Pamela do the talking.


Nice Legs

My super-athletic husband is a native of St. Croix. Yah, mon. When we moved to Texas, he had to learn some Texas tricks, and this old dog didn’t want to. It took a lot for him to find his inner Bubba-mon.

When we had lived in Texas less than two years, Eric and I celebrated our anniversary in Fredericksburg, a charming hamlet chock-a-full of German history in the Hill Country of Texas. Like anyone would, we planned our entire getaway around bicycling and running. However, given the fact that we’d just run the Texas marathon days before, it was very moderate bicycling and running.

We were in the heart of Texas deer hunting country, and it just happened that we were smack in the middle of deer hunting season. As we drove into town, Eric put on his thickest, most sarcastic drawl and estimated the IQ and body weight of each thermal-camouflage-clad, beer-bellied hunter we passed. We pulled up to a gas pump, surrounded by converted SUVs and ATVs tricked out with gun turrets and swiveling Lazy Boys in their hacked-off back ends.

Eric put the car in park. “You’re going to have to pump the gas.”

Not to be a princess, but, “’Scuse me?” My husband never lets me lift a dainty little finger if he can help it. He’d have to be vomiting up a lung to ask me to pump gas.

He gestured at his bare legs and running attire. “I can’t go out there like this.”

Because it’s too cold?” I could understand this, seeing as it was January and all. That’s why I had on full-length running tights. Duh.

No, because . . .” He jerked his head toward the nearest hunter, garbed head-to-toe to withstand an arctic blast. “People will stare at me.”


Eric’s shorts were truly short; you know, the kind that shows 99.9% of your thighs? You see shorts like these on real runners in city parks. You do not see them in Llano, Texas. In Llano, real men don’t wear sissy running shorts. Hell, real men don’t run at all, in short shorts or anything else. Real men don’t need to run, unless it’s to the Allsup’s for a six-pack of Lone Star beer. They get their exercise the manly way: they hunt and field-dress deer after they poke their dogies and till the back forty in their John Deeres. (My apologies to all aforesaid real men, ‘cause I know there’s a difference between a farmer and a cowboy, and never the twain shall meet.)

Well, I may have giggled and made a comment or two at this point, I dunno, but I did pump the gas. We passed more hunters on our way to a café where we planned to meet my mother for breakfast, like anyone would on their anniversary trip.

Um, yeah.

Anyway, Eric kept humming some dueling banjos song and talking about people who marry their first cousins. Then we pulled into the parking lot of the café.

Eric put the car in park. He turned a stricken face to me.

Lotta hunters in there,” I said before he had a chance to speak, gesturing towards the tiny, crowded restaurant and then at the giant vehicles around us. And I coughed to cover a chuckle.

Har-de-har-har,” said Eric.

I think you’re a little underdressed,” I said, and this time I burst out laughing. Every person in the restaurant except my mom, who by now was waving cheerily at us through the window, was wearing thermal camo overalls.

We hurried into the bacon-scented café, Eric tugging in vain at his shorts. They were as long as they were going to get. All eyes followed us to the table, where Mom kissed and hugged us with noisy gusto.
As soon as we sat down, she asked Eric to run to her car and get something. Well, a man doesn’t ever say no to his mother-in-law, does he? Eric took a deep breath and re-trod his walk of shame to the parking lot, wishing, I’m sure, for Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.

When he was out of earshot, I leaned in and whispered, “Mom, Eric is mortified about his running shorts.”

Why?” she asked. “He looks fine.”

Look around, Mom. Hunters. No short running shorts.” I giggled. “He feels conspicuous.”

My mother never wastes an opportunity, and the woman is quick. She turned to the nearest hunter, a healthy fellow of 270 pounds or so, 8.6 pounds of it in facial hair.

Would you do me a favor?” she asked him.

Have I mentioned that my mother is a great source of genetic material? She is charming and pretty, and all men love her. This hunter was no exception.

Why sure, ma’am, what can I do ya for?” he said, and damn if his voice wasn’t a dead ringer for Eric’s imitation hunter-drawl earlier.

See that man in the running shorts out there in the parking lot? That’s my son-in-law. He is a little embarrassed about wearing shorts. I was wondering if you could let out a big wolf whistle when he comes back in?”

He turned to his cronies, who were hanging on every word of this interchange. He brayed a laugh, and after a split second, so did his two friends. “I’d be delighted to help ya out, ma’am.”

Thank you sooooo much,” she said, and turned back to her menu, a Mona Lisa smile on her face.
The front door opened, sounding its bell. My clean-shaven husband with his mighty fine exposed gams stepped in.

Without hesitating as long as it would take to load his 30.06 deer rifle, the hunter yelled out, “Hey boy, NICE LEGS!”

Eric looked around slowly, hoping the hunter was talking to someone else. His face lost all color. The restaurant grew so quiet you could almost hear the steam hissing out of Eric’s ears. After a few beats, the café exploded in sound, as the hunter and his buddies cackled and whooped with laughter. They pounded the table, and one of them clapped our hunter on the back with a resounding thwump.

Eric tilted his head just enough to be perceptible and made the four quick strides from the door to our table, his naked legs eye-level as he pushed between two tables on the way. The hunter reached out and clasped his meaty paw around Eric’s arm.

He hooked his thumb at my mother. “Yore mother-in-law put me up to it. I don’t normally comment on another feller’s legs.”

They are awful nice, though,” one of his friends said, and they all set to hee-hawing again.

It is possible that Eric now finds this story humorous. At the time, he may or may not have planned the slow and painful death of his mother-in-law in the near future, although you’d never have known it then. Let’s just say that when we drew up our house plans for our someday house on our property in Nowheresville, he didn’t include a mother-in-law suite.

But he did let me buy him a pair of longer running shorts.

By Pamela Fagan Hutchins, who knows better than to share stuff like this on the internet, but she just can’t help herself.
Reprinted from the book Hot Flashes And Half Ironmans with permission from SkipJack Publishing, and available on Amazon.com and at other online and live retailers.and at other online and live retailers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whatcha Been Up to Jules??

That's a question that has been posed to me quite often lately. I've been extremely busy with little down time and that has caused lots of things to suffer. Not as much time to meet with friends, blog or keep up with phone calls.

First of all, after seven years of not working outside the house, I got a job and went back to work. My swim coach was looking for someone to work in his restaurant and I took him up on it. It's been fun learning a new skill and working again. I love being around people and especially working our special events. Lots of baby showers,bridal showers, wedding rehearsals and birthday parties. Really fun to help decorate, serve and make someone's day special. You can check out there website here

The kids have been busy playing water polo, Marty has been working and we had company from France for  11 days. Fanette, Vincent and David came to visit us and see California. We had a great time showing them around our town and state. We made four trips to LA and back by the time we were through. We went to Universal, Sea World, Disneyland and the Sequoias.

We loved seeing Fanette and her boys in person, showing them the state and just being together. I even skipped watching the first ten days of my beloved Tour de France to spend time with them. Between working and site seeing, I had no time to do little else. It was worth it and I caught up after they left.

Now I am back to work and tour watching. I've got some great updates on my weight loss journey to share but that is another blog and another day. Just lots of busyness and stuff going on. I am looking forward to settling into a routine soon. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Bri-Annie

Oh Brianne, I really cannot imagine my life without you. My oldest friend and first cousin, I was only two years old when Brianne was born and I don't remember a day without her. Brianne is the epitome of joy, she is always wanting her family to be happy and smiling. She is truly one that hates that we all grew up and aren't kids anymore.

Julie, Brianne being Brianne, Carrie

We always have had fun together and I have so many wonderful memories with Brianne. We spent nearly everyday together from her birth to age 21 when I moved away. We know each others friends, we know each others secrets, habits and personalities inside and out. Truly she is one of my sisters of the heart or "sister cousins" as I like to call them.

My favorite all time Bri-Annie picture. She always wants us to be smiling and happy

Brianne is a great sister

Brianne has been a rock for me in many a hard time. I truly credit her for helping me through some of my most difficult times in life. She has listened to my struggles in one situation for over 17 years now and really the one who has helped me overcome the heartache.

We are known as the talkers. Believe me, Brianne talks more than I do! We would often go to sleep hearing Brianne talk and wake up at 5 a.m. to Brianne talking until we woke up. "Brianne, be quiet and let us sleep" was a common saying at sleepovers.

There is the famous Thanksgiving eating contest lets just say that I won and Brianne lost. She hates when I bring it up. I still laugh to this day about the whole thing. 

Brianne Elizabeth and Elizabeth matching
Brianne, Jen Fitz,Rissa,Elizabeth and I
My kids love Brianne, especially Conner. I can always tell when he is on the phone with Brianne because he is screaming at the top of his lungs. Those two are peas in a pod and so loud together. In fact, it was him that started calling her "B-Annie" because he couldn't say Brianne. Our family called her "Briannie" but Conner called her "B-Annie" and we both call her that now. She always takes the kids on adventures and is truly like a aunt to them. They love her dearly and so does Marty. Even though Marty is too quiet for Brianne and never talks enough to her for her liking.

When I talk to Brianne she often likes to tell me " Julie, you're so weird" and laugh at me when I tell her about things in my life. It's okay if you think I am weird, I already know thanks to Brianne's constant repetition of that fact. It's funny and always makes me laugh.

I love this picture of Conner, Brianne and Alex
Celebrating a birthday together

Yet another birthday with Brianne by my side

We've celebrated over thirty years of birthday's together. I think we are going to stop counting soon! We have shared a wonderful, special life together. Truly we have a special unique bond as cousins that many have envied over the years. Brianne is truly one of the biggest parts of my life and if you're my friend long enough you will learn that.

B-Annie, I cannot imagine life without you and I am so thankful for your love and support throughout the years. You mean the world to me and I wish you the very happiest of birthday's. Love, Julie

A/N One special thing about Brianne's birthday is that she shared a birthday with our Grandma. I think it is truly a comfort to be able to still call someone on this day. We miss Grandma dearly everyday and that longing only grows as the years go on. Happy birthday Grandma, your sixth birthday in heaven. I will eat a piece of Hershey's today in her honor.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dear Janet, You've Inspired Us

Dear Janet,

Two years ago, I read a blurb about your comeback in the OC Register while visiting my family. I had no clue that your comeback would change my life! I had been getting up at four a.m. for almost a year when we met, I would go back to bed and sleep until 9 a.m.. Then we were introduced on Twitter and my life was transformed in five tweets. I suddenly had a reason to stay up and started working out twice a day five days a week. Then when you challenged me to swim with you, I had no clue what I had been missing out on for 18 years. That workout was amazing and got me back in the pool.

 For 18 years, I put myself behind my family and you helped me make myself a priority. I am  30lbs lighter, a lot fitter and headed toward my goal. I have completed my first triathlon, been swimming with a club and  I am planning for more and maybe even trying to start competing with Masters swimming again next year.

Thank you for inspiring me, mentoring me and for just being my friend.  I truly will miss our morning texts about dragging ourselves to workout. It has been fun cheering you on and watching you try to prove the world wrong. The best part of all, I made a lifelong friend.

"Iron sharpens Iron, so one friend sharpens another" Proverbs 27:17

Along the way, so many joined in and told me how you inspired them. Then people started telling me I inspired them too. So I asked for them to share with you just how you've inspired them.

your friend, Jules

PS if you had quit before November, I wouldn't be where I am today. So thank you for staying the course and finishing strong. None of this would have happened if you hadn't!


Dear Janet,

As a teen growing up in Oregon, I was a rising star in my local swimming community. Though I didn't swim distance freestyle, I knew how special and incredible Janet Evans accomplishments were. Even in my young years, I knew I was witnessing the greatest swimming champion of my time, and she was a woman!  Her incessantly positive persona under pressure, and her relentless drive to meet every challenge was a source of inspiration for my teenage self. So I was thrilled to meet Janet twice, once at Nationals (her parents sat in front of us) and once at a local pool in my community. Her ability to connect with the youth and teen swimmers in my community left an impression as well. 

Now, fast forward to 2011, and my 33 year old self saw a teeny article in the paper one day, proclaiming that my idol, Janet Evans, recently began swimming again and is looking to make the Olympic team--at age 40. That she was able and willing to dedicate herself to "some me time" in the mornings, allowing her to train in the pool is a lesson every person should learn. As Janet rediscovered her competitive fires, she managed to inspire me as well.  Just last week, an article was published stating that maybe those ambitious women "can't have it all" (referring to a major career and a family life). Well, in a day and age where many women are struggling to hold together a career, family, hearth and home, Janet rose to the occasion, and showed everyone, most importantly herself,  that she's still got it. Janet, thanks for the inspiration--again!

Marissa Axell, cyclist, professional fitness coach

Dear Janet,

Before I discovered the love of triathlon, I grew up as a distance swimmer in Australia.  My pet event was the 800m.  I watched the Seol Olympics as a 10 year old with not a lot talen, knowledge or dreams.  But when I saw Janet take Gold in the 800m, all of a sudden I was inspired and I found a role model.  I wanted to go to the Olympics and I joined my first swim club.  Over the next four years I went from swimming 3 workouts a week to swimming 10.  I was still not even close to the level of Janet as I watched her take gold again in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  This was the year I discovered triathlon, which I did to keep fit over the winter.  I still had my sights set on the Olympics. 
At 16 I moved out of home to go to University where I joined an elite swim club.  I smashed myself swimming upwards of 100km weeks.  Unfortunately this took it's toll on my swim career as due to shoulder problems, so I took up triathlon where the dream to go the Olympics was still very alive, only now in a different sport. 
I am 34 now and until watching the Olympic Trials in both swimming and triathlon, I would have said that the dream to go to the Olympics was just that, a dream.  But once again, Janet Evans (and a handful of other athletes like swimmer Dara Torres and triathlete Laura Bennett) has inspired me once again and given me a new perspective on the possibility of making the Olympics as she takes on athletes half their age.  So London Olympics in out, but look out Rio 2016!  

Leanda R. Cave, Professional triathlete, Ironman podium finisher


Dear Janet,

There comes a time in each person's life when you have to take charge and decide your own destiny.  Sometimes that happens because someone encourages you.  I have been working hard to be a runner....it doesn't come easy to me, it is something I truly have to work at....on a daily basis.  It is such an inspiration to see other people working towards their goals!  It creates a bond, even if you don't actually know the person.  Thank you Janet Evans for being that person....you have inspired so many and continue to inspire me!  I love that you have fought for all you have accomplished and have helped so many other people accomplish their goals.  Thank you for helping me continue to work towards mine!

Darci Stoll, member of #GOMOMMAGO, runner, teacher and mother 


Dear Janet,

I have been so amazed by the women I have come to know the last couple of years! One I don't really "know" is Janet Evans. She has befriended a wonderful young lady, Julie, and thru you friendship I have been so inspired. I am a 41 y/o woman and I am in awe of your commitment to your sport! Watching your efforts tell me that I can do so much more with my self.  I am praying for you today As you go through the Olympic Trials, you are already a winner in my book, no matter the outcome!

Ronda Stanger, runner, member of #GOMOMMAGO, school nurse, and mother


 Swam the Sea of Galilee a few weeks ago 4 charity, inspired by Janet. Swam with her 1 time in H.S. Awesome then, awesome now!