Success Story: “How I lost almost half my body weight—and transformed my life”

Written by: on Friday, March 30th, 2012
I am SO incredibly inspired by Bryan Ganey; instead of opting for quick fixes, which never work, he opted the hard work route toward weight loss (diet and exercise). And in the process, he’s lost 292!!! pounds. (For anyone struggling to lose 10 or 15, it kind of puts things into perspective, right?)
Just look at these before and after pics!!

Before: 577 lbs

Now: 285 lbs

When I asked Bryan for his 5 tips for success, here’s what he had to say:
1.) Accept and understand the truth: there is no quick fix.  Everyone wants it to be easy, we’re so desperate to find the secret that we fool ourselves into believing there is one. There is not. Sustained weight management is very, very hard and that’s why almost everyone fails at it. However, difficult does not mean impossible, so you can do it. But you need to respect how difficult it is and avoid becoming arrogant when success comes easy, because failure is lurking around every corner. Avoid the trap of wanting it all right now, because that is temporary and temporary is not what you want.
2.) Buy and eat real food from the grocery store. You must walk away from the garbage…forever. Face the facts: you’ve had enough fast food, soda, and junk food to last three lifetimes. You don’t need any more. If you’re a food addict like me (see my “before picture for evidence of this) it is absolutely crucial that you never touch the trash food ever again. People tend to eat junk food not because they are undisciplined, but because they are hungry. You have to do the work and always have healthy food on hand. Pack your lunch and eat it. I stick with what I call “The 6 Food Groups:” fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and water.

3.) You must measure, weigh and write down everything you eat. Many people lie to themselves and others about how much they’re eating, but they really have no idea. Remember: everything you eat counts. Being overweight is being on the wrong end of a math problem, so you must add it up at the end of the day. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. As you eat many of the same things over and over, you will memorize their calorie content. There are websites and smart phone apps you can use to track your calorie consumption, or you can use a notepad and a pen like I do. Either way, you have to write it down. This will keep you accountable to yourself.

4.) Water must immediately become your beverage of choice. Water has many benefits, including being essential to life but it also will make you feel full and regulate your appetite. Some people don’t like the taste of water, but I believe you can’t have sustained weight loss without it. Try low-calorie drink mixes like Crystal Light or their generic equivalents to make it taste better if you have to. But drink a lot of water. I easily drink a gallon a day. Sodas (diet included) contain caffeine that will make you want to eat. I also associate soda with junk food and fast food, so I can’t have one without wanting the other. Don’t drink your calories.  Water is one of the few things (besides air) that doesn’t have any calories, so drink it early and often.

5.) Stay off the scale. It is tempting to weigh every day, because we all want the fast results. You must stop obsessing and worshiping the scale. Instead, weigh once every two weeks, maybe even once a month. Again, think long-term. You are losing weight for the rest of your life, not next week. Also, the purpose of the scale is to give you an idea of where you are. It’s not an end-all, be-all guide to your success. The scale has the power to make your day and it has the ability to ruin your day. Don’t let it. Weigh once to start, then not for awhile.


But cheer him on: tomorrow (March 31) he’s taking part in the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10-K race in Charleston, South Carolina. Last year, Bryan walked this. This year, he’s hoping to run the entire thing! You can follow his blogs at, but watch this inspiring news coverage of him before the race.

“Yoga, I love it but still have a lot to learn!”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Friday, March 30th, 2012

I aspire to this...

...and to this

...and to this

...and this!

My daughters, ages 8 and 6, can do some of these poses already. I have been regularly practicing yoga for a year and I still don’t have the strength to do any of them. But the fact that I’ve stuck to yoga—and practice it regularly now is progress. And I’m determined that someday I will be able to do these poses! Just wanted to share…

“My simple (no-sweat) trick for running faster and farther”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Run when you can, Walk When You Have toFor months I have been floundering with my running and not gaining any speed or distance. I have been running at pathetic paces of nearly 14-minute miles (with guilty walks mixed in)—and I’ve been getting slower instead of faster.

Boredom, the treadmill, pain all contributed.

So, I set out to improve. That, plus I am on a quest to do an upcoming 5K race and I am determined to keep up with, or at least keep near, my friends, Crystal and Brenda. (Crystal and Brenda of the completed-half-marathon fame.)

Another marathoner friend of mine, Kevin, told me about Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run training style. Kevin has witnessed runners finishing ahead of him in marathons when at points he has passed them as they walked. The possibility of walking while running appealed to my desire to avoid suffering. Jeff Galloway believes that walking to recover helps you go faster and further. He has training plans but I made my own after being inspired by his website.

My first run was for 30 minutes. I set the treadmill at 5.0 mph. I walked 4 scheduled 3o-second intervals and 1 60-second interval…without guilt!…and, as result, felt like I ran the last few minutes instead of being dragged.

This alone is success in my book.

Melissa Juliano: Weight Loss Diarist


Today was a “fast run” and I am very pleased with my results. I set the treadmill at 5.5 mph for running and 3.0 mph for walks and covered 1.6 miles in 20 minutes at an average pace of….get this……12 minutes 11 seconds per mile! I shaved almost a minute and a half off my time!

YES! I am on to something here! I am on my way to faster and further!



“From size 22 to size 16: my newest size—and picture!”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Melissa Juliano: Weight Loss Diarist

April 4, 2010

Melissa Juliano: Weight Loss Diarist

Me today! March 27, 2012












What a chore it is to find a picture of me from BEFORE!  But here is one from two years ago…along with a DURING shot that I actually asked my husband to take (this is a big deal as I have never wanted anyone, even my husband, to take pictures of me!). I haven’t reached my AFTER yet, but I will!

I asked my husband to take the picture to help me celebrate because yesterday I bought some new slacks in a size 16. That dress in my before shot was a 22. Oy! My snazzy new top is an XL, not a 2XL. I went into TJ Maxx and had to put things back because everything fit and I couldn’t buy it all. BEFORE, I just got what fit and didn’t think about whether I liked it. Wow, I don’t mind looking at this DURING picture. Not at all.  Yeah!  Now, I’m off for a run…….

The chicken hatching lesson: teaching kids about life…

Written by: on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator

The Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator keeps the temperature and humidity constant.


Ever since I was in grade school—and we got to hatch chickens in the classroom—I’ve wanted to hatch chickens and hold those fuzzy yellow chicks. So about three years ago, I bought a Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator from Museum Tour, a kids’ educational catalog. But I never had time to a) figure out how the heck to use it or more importantly, b) where to get the eggs from.

This year, I found a guy who’s lived in our home town for almost 50 years with chickens, right by my son’s school…and I got the eggs.

They’re in the incubator right now (very cool, it keeps the temperature constant and turns the eggs regularly)…so hopefully they’ll hatch as I wanted to show my kids where chickens come from—to help them value life and the food they eat. (Although, they may decide they never want to eat chickens again…which would be just fine with me, as I’m pretty much a vegetarian!)

chicken eggs for hatching

The eggs...we got 5 of them, although they probably won't all hatch!










chicken eggs for hatching

We marked the sides of the eggs with an X and an help us make sure they're turned regularly in the incubator.













chicken eggs in Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator

The eggs in the incubator...the countdown (22 days) begins!








“Why Mixing Up Your Exercise Routine Helps”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Dogs as running partners: Weight Loss Diary for

My faithful running companion!

The treadmill is boring to the point of being undoable. I needed a change. But I always felt like I couldn’t run outdoors because I live in the boonies. In my mind, which I might add is always quick to come up with any kind of exercise excuse, there are lions and tigers and bears out here. Well, bears for sure and mountain lions maybe depending on who you talk to. In reality, the 10-ton log trucks barreling down my no-shoulder road are a bigger threat than a bear.

So I decided to heck with my fears…and I gave Pumba, my dog, a pep talk about not pulling my arm off on the leash and we drove the ½ mile to a side road that sees less traffic. Then we ran. He was so good and I felt safe with him trotting along out in front. His tags jangled loud enough to be fair warning for any bear to steer clear. Plus, he is a pit bull and ought to give any human up to no good pause before thinking of messing with me.

We ran 2.33 miles in 32 minutes 34 seconds for an average pace of 13 minutes 57 seconds per mile.  Now I could beat myself up about how pathetic that is. I could probably walk faster. But pavement is much different than a treadmill and there are HILLS here. My legs muscles are tired when I get off the treadmill but not usually sore. But  today I am sore. Those hills build muscle and endurance!

My running partner is snoring loudly now … and I feel ready to take on the world!

Just another example of how mixing up your routine can motivate you even more!

“My 3 weight-loss mantras…plus my new home exercise tool”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Melissa Juliano on Scale: Weight Loss Diary

I LOVE this picture!!!

201. 201. 201. 201. 201.

In case you are not keeping up with my blog posts, this is my lowest weight in forever!!! And now I am soooooo close to being under 200 that I can taste it (and it tastes like sweat from a great workout). How I’m doing it:

1) Keep at it—no matter how de-motivated I become. Even when I don’t exercise, don’t get enough sleep (which is the norm), and don’t eat right (which happens sometimes)—I get right back on track the next day.

2) Exercise baby! I’m mixing up my workouts—to keep myself from getting bored and keep the results coming (see below for my new workout tool, which cost me $45—with free shipping from Amazon Prime—from I may not be able to do a half marathon yet  like my friends, but I’m doing the workouts that work for me and my life.

3) Never say diet. With two young girls at home, I want to promote healthy eating not deprivation! I’m eating healthy foods and indulging in sweets in moderation—the way eating should be! And I’m still losing!!! Yeah!!!

Random weight-loss thought for the day: my body doesn’t know and doesn’t care that I get on the scale once a week. My body will show me results when it is ready—and that may not be on weigh-in day! (…though sometimes it is!)

Weighted Exercise Bar on

You can do so many strength-boosting exercises with this tool!

But I’m determined to kick some butt (and pounds!) with my new weighted exercise bar: 15 pounds. More to come on the workout I’m doing with it!

Pink Slime: Why it should be banned!

Written by: on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Jamie Oliver very clearly shows why this junk (pink slime) should not be allowed in our food supply!


“The highs—and lows—of losing weight”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Melissa Juliano with baby: Weight Loss Diary for

One of my happiest moments: when my daughter was born.

I have had 10 nights off from work because of a weekend switch. That is the longest I have had off in more than 2 years. By night number 8 I felt human again, better than I have felt in a long time. I was joyous and hopeful. I got amazing workouts in. I lost a pound.

It’s amazing what a break from my night shift can do.
But I am back at it tonight and it has destroyed my mood. I went from feeling invincible to feeling weak.
My friends Brenda and Crystal (and a bunch of others from town) ran the final race of the Polar Bears series on Sunday: a half marathon. 13.1 miles. I am in awe of what they have accomplished. I want to run further and faster to join their ranks and keep up. Yesterday I was sure I could. Today, with 8 of 12 hours left to my work day (after already working 7 hours during the day), a meager nap to get me through the marathon and 6 more nights ahead of me, I am feeling like I will never be fit and strong and healthy.
But sticking with my plan is key: I know there will be highs and lows, ups and downs, weight gain and loss—but sticking with it is the key to success long term.
And that’s what I intend to do. But I need to get through tonight first.

Simple advice on how to be happier—sans drugs

Written by: on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
laughing, happy woman for

Happiness is the most simple pleasure in life—but so many of us don’t truly embrace it.

Life—as we live it today—is crazy. That’s not news to anyone. It takes more money (and more working hours) just to keep up. Add a family and kids into that mix … and women, especially, are pulled in what seems to be a thousand directions.

We’re trying to work and help with the bills, raise kids, keep the family healthy (and all that goes with that: grocery shopping, doctor appointments, healthy meals, etc.), keep the house clean and laundry done, keep our own bodies healthy and slim (a stressful feat on its own)…and maintain hobbies and interests that help us to have some semblance of a life.

It’s no easy feat. And that—more than anything else—I believe, is the reason behind the statistics of a study that says more than a quarter of U.S. women (an increase from 10 years ago) take medication to treat depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder. That is more than the number of men who took drugs for these same conditions.

The bottom line, I truly believe, is that people (women in particular) aren’t happy, truly happy with their lives anymore. So many are turning to drugs to help them be happier (granted, there are some people who are clinically depressed—but there always have been, why that can’t explain the entire increase).

I was one of these people years ago: depending on anti-anxiety medications to control my nervousness, sleeplessness, and overall unhappiness with my life. But as soon as I changed the parts of my life that were making me miserable, everything changed—and I went off the medication.

I’ve never gone back on that medication, thanks to these things that I have found can make you happier—sans drugs:

happy woman with arms outstretched

Embrace what life has in store for you—and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing (or getting).

1) Follow your heart. Examine your life and figure out what is making you unhappy—and change that. Bad relationship, bad job…whatever it is. Sounds daunting, but the truth is we each have the power to make our lives what we want them to be. Too many of us are stuck, feeling powerless. Put the power back in your own life by deciding what you want to do (and what you love to do)—and then go do it. Forget what people will think; those that matter won’t second-guess a thing you’re doing.

2) Stop trying to keep up with the “Jones-es”. It’s exhausting trying to live a life that mimics (or one-ups) those around us: bigger house, bigger car, better body, better job, more money, you name it. Be the person you want to be—and forget about everyone else.

3) Get your body moving. Study after study has shown that regular exercise helps with depression. So many of us don’t have the time for exercise (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves), but make the time. Consider it an investment in your health—and happiness. (And don’t feel you have to go run mindlessly on the treadmill to make it count: find something you love to do—walking, swimming, tennis, biking, whatever—and do it every day or almost every day.)

4) Accept what you cannot change…and move on. Give yourself time to grieve for something that’s not going your way (say, two weeks) and then visualize putting that problem in a cart and pushing it down the mountain. Then never think about it again. One day, you’ll look back and realize why things happened the way they did—and you’ll be thankful for it.

5) Be thankful for what you do have. If you have to make a list of everything that is good about your life in order to do this…then do it. We all have things to be grateful for—and realizing that, every day, will make each of us happier.

6) Get rid of the clutter. There’s too much clutter—literally and figuratively—in our lives. Clear out the stuff that doesn’t matter…and you find you’ll feel lighter: less encumbered, less stressed, and happier.

The only side effect of all these things: a happier, more content you—better than any of the fine-print side effects on those drugs!