Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Biggest Loser' Julie Hadden to Speak at Health, Wellness Expo

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Biggest Loser' Julie Hadden to Speak at Health, Wellness Expo

Article excerpt

Byline: HEATHER LOVEJOY

FERNANDINA BEACH - She doesn't think of herself as a star, but she'll be center stage next week at an extensive health fair supporting local health-centered businesses.

It's doubtful stage fright will be a problem, though. She's been on national television. And millions of people already know who she is.

Julie Hadden was first runner-up on season four of the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser," losing 97 pounds and weighing out at 121 pounds. Two years later, she's kept off the weight and still lives in Jacksonville with her husband, Mike, and their two young children.

Hadden will be the featured speaker Saturday, Feb. 28, at The Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce's first Health and Wellness Expo. My Nassau Sun caught up with Hadden, 36, on Wednesday. Here are edited excerpts from the phone interview:

Can anybody do what you did? And I mean lose weight, not go on national television.

Listen, if I can do it, anybody can. There is nothing extraordinary about me. I am just a person, just "Julie."

How has your health improved since you've been a healthy weight?

I could talk all day about that. Before I went on the show, I could barely get up a flight a stairs. ... I'm so much stronger, not just in my body strength, but emotionally and in spirit.

Were there any unexpected benefits?

I play with my kids now and don't think about it. We play outside all the time. We're not sedentary anymore. ... I can shop [for clothes] anywhere now, and at any stores. I can walk into the store and buy off the rack.

What's the main message you try to get across to your audiences?

As an obese person, I gave and gave and gave of myself, and at the end of the day there was nothing for me. I didn't feel like my time was worth it - I felt worthless. I tell people that you, yourself, without anybody else, are worth the effort to live the life you were either ordained by God to live or that you want to live. …

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