At 41 years old, Julie Marchak admits she had one foot in the grave.
The Langford resident weighed 280 pounds, was constantly tired, didn’t have enough energy to clean the house, and even almost fell asleep at the wheel while driving her three daughters to school. If she sat down for 10 minutes, she physically couldn’t keep her eyes open.
After a series of tests, Marchak was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. According to Marchak’s doctor, it was brought on my brought on by stress, allergies and being extremely obese.
Doctors told Marchak that the extra 20 pounds she had gained recently meant her neck was heavier and therefore pushed more weight onto her airways, making it difficult to breathe at night. They told her she would need an oxygen machine to help her sleep for the rest of her life.
“I wasn’t willing to accept that grave news … I was horrified,” said Marchak, who was recently selected as a finalist for a weight loss challenge. “At the time, I had three young daughters and I wasn’t being the mom I needed to be for them. Everyone around me was really worried.”
That’s when Marchak decided to make a change.
It was then her cousin introduced her to a health agency called Isagenix, an organization that exists to inspire and power individuals, families and communities to live their best life through nutrition, health and overall wellness.
Slowly Marchak said the weight began to “fall off.” Marchak had more energy, made healthier food choices and began walking along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and the Esquimalt Lagoon again – something she found difficult before.
In the first year, Marchak shed 100 pounds, as well as another 45 pounds over two years – more than half of her original body weight.
Now Marchak, who has always struggled with her weight, feels that she’s able to be there for her 15-year-old twins and 18-year-old daughter as they grow up.
“I want to be able to be there for them. I want to be able to say goodnight to them and not fall asleep mid-conversation. I want to be able to drive them to school without putting them in jeopardy because I can’t keep my eyes open,” said the now 44-year-old. “I live and breathe for my family.”
Due to her weight loss journey, Marchak has been selected as one of 15 finalists from across North American to be an Isabody finalist through Isagenix, with the chance of becoming a spokesperson for the company. Marchak flew to Nashville last week and has the chance to win US$25,000.
For Marchak, losing weight was not about the money, but adopting a healthier lifestyle and mindset.
“I was just a normal mom and made some changes and now I’m living the life I didn’t know existed,” she said, adding it’s important to take care of oneself. “I took care of everybody and everything before myself and in the end, it really effected everyone around me.”