By the time Julie Pagenkopf of Lincolnville gave birth to her second child, son Weston, in December 2014, she looked a good deal different from the woman husband Mark had married eight years earlier.
Pagenkopf was a slim 120 pounds when she married him in 2006. As is common to many young wives, she gradually gained weight. Within six years, she had put on another 60 pounds, or 50 percent of her original body weight.
“I was drinking a lot of soda and eating unhealthy food,” she said. “I knew I had to start making changes.”
A few years earlier, she had had a bout with kidney stones, which had led her to make a tentative effort to lose weight. She counted calories and lost a few pounds but not enough to make a difference.
Weston’s birth changed all that. She was desperate and resolved to lose the extra pounds. She set a goal of 135 pounds.
She began the new year doing research on health and weight loss. She learned which foods were nutritious and which were unhealthy. She read food labels to determine ingredients.
“I got rid of my excuses,” she said. “I started working out and eating healthy food, including more fruits and vegetables.”
She eliminated soda from her diet.
“I found out that when I started eating healthier, my cravings for junk food went away,” she said.
She did cardio workouts three to five days a week using exercise DVDs. She sometimes walked with her children, pushing a stroller.
By August 2015, she was down to 155 pounds. She added a nutritional supplement to her diet, which helped her eat less. Sweets lost their appeal.
Ninety days later, she reached her goal and has maintained it ever since.
“I used to eat three or four cupcakes at a birthday party, but now I can’t even eat one,” she said. “It doesn’t taste good. It’s too sweet.”
The 32-year-old wife and mother is enjoying the rewards of her success.
“It changed me,” she said. “It’s not just a physical change, but an emotional change. I used to just want to sit in a corner and not go out,” she said. “Now I am more outgoing and more optimistic about life. I have more energy and am in a better mood.”
Pagenkopf has a degree in elementary education from Tabor College and has teaching experience. She operates a home-based business and homeschools the couple’s two children: Marlie, 6, and Weston, 2.
“If anyone thinks it’s too expensive to eat healthy food, it’s not, because it will cut their health costs down the road,” she said. “I want to keep growing and have a bright future. I feel like the best is yet to come.”