56 Pounds and Counting: How Julia Gray Shed Her Weight and Her Struggles

After five years of weight gain, anxiety and sleep deprivation, Gray found support and decided to make a change.
(Feature photo credit Levi Nillson)

Julia Gray never had problems with weight. Throughout high school and college, she was always active, successful and hard working. Her “life of excess,” didn’t begin until she was 22 years old — a recent college graduate beginning a new job with her degree in international affairs.

Four months after her graduation from Georgetown University in 2001, her life began to spiral out of control. 

Just seven days after starting a new job on a Senate committee in Washington D.C., Gray found herself immersed in the chaos and trauma of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Her city and her office were at high-risk for potential terrorists threats, and the anthrax scare that followed 9/11 left her sick from the temporary radiation poisoning that was used to kill anthrax spores on mail.

Gray’s daily struggles at work, coupled with the media infiltration that she would come home to every night, left her with constant reminders of the attacks. Gray was eventually diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Before Weight Loss


From Post-Traumatic Stress to excess

Gray says she turned to excess. She started staying up really late watching movies, overexposing herself to the media and binge eating in the middle of the night. Her habits quickly led to insomnia, and her poor eating habits carried into the day, when she says she would go to fast-food restaurants to eat.

“I was basically not eating breakfast or lunch, but rather eating dinner and just bingeing at 3:00 a.m,” Gray says. Gray moved out of Washington, D.C. and back to her home state of Alaska, but she couldn’t move away from her personal struggles. 

“My excesses followed me wherever I went,” she says. 

Taking control

After five years and 76 added pounds, Gray was the most that she had ever weighed: 236 pounds. It took until this 5th Anniversary of 9/11 that Gray finally decided to make a change.

She had met another woman from Connecticut that had experienced the same PTSD symptoms following 9/11 — someone who could understand her pain. The woman recommended that Gray use Gaiam’s Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Insomnia DVD to resolve her sleeping problems.

“That was the first thing I had used to that actually knocked me out enough to fall asleep,” Gray says.

But fighting the insomnia was only half the battle.

“I knew that if I was going to get my life back in order, I needed to start exercising again,” Gray says.

Debbie Rocker’s walking workout DVDs and Rodney Yee’s yoga programs helped her do that.

“After a year, I had lost 48 pounds,” Gray says. “It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be.”

A new lease on life

Gray recalled going back home to Fairbanks to see family and friends after she had lost some weight.

“They were all shocked at how I looked,” Gray says. “That was the best part.”

The progress she had made showed her how much she could actually accomplish. Now, at age 30, Gray weighs 180 pounds — 56 less that she did just two years ago.

Gray says she’d tried to lose weight numerous times before finding what worked.

“You can’t stair-climb away binge eating,” she says.“I tried other brands, but nothing stuck. I was always too exhausted by the end of the workouts to feel motivated enough to want to do it again."

Gray also began practicing meditation for two hours a day, once in the morning and once at night, and says that she has become a lot more mindful. She says that Gaiam’s Meditate CD introduced her to what mindfulness is even about. Gray says that a major lifestyle and behavioral change gave her peace for the first time in 5 years.

“I was lucky because I took action, and I got the right support from Gaiam, and here I am today to prove it,” she says. “It's changed my life. By telling my story, I hope that people can find resources at Gaiam that can bring them lasting peace too.”


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rwell's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 years 23 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 02/17/2010

Congratulations to Julia! I also weighed over 230 lbs. two years ago and suffered from binge eating. And I too used Debbie Rocker's walking DVDs to start an exercise plan. Two years later, I am over 75 lbs lighter and feeling great. I use lots of other workout programs now - including Rodney Yee's yoga - and like to challenge myself to try new things. I never thought I could do Zumba or Cardio Kickboxing but now I can! And Giam's selection never fails to provide a new challenge. Thanks to Giam and Debbie for getting me started on a path to better health.

Anonymous's picture

So how can I get that dvd

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