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KELLY BRAMAN PHOTOGRAPHY for tops club, inc. Julie Lost 200+ lb. With TOPS—and Then Came Baby By N. Marie Dries Most expectant mothers will tell you that planning for a new baby is great fun and a lot of work. For Julie Vanden Berg, feelings of joyful anticipation, unyielding self-discipline and a fair share of anxiety were part and parcel of her most recent pregnancy. How She Began Carrying On So she concentrated on eating well, walking every night, weighing in at weekly meetings and paving the way for a smooth transition through delivery and into post-natal self-care. Her fear of adding too many pounds didn't go away, but Julie assured herself the weight gain was necessary and temporary. 10 HEALTHY & ACTIVE 2014 Julie Vanden Berg lost more than 200 lb. and stayed on the TOPS program while pregnant, later giving birth to a boy, Levi. Julie Vanden Berg Reached her goal of losing 214 lb. and shortly after discovered she was pregnant. She stayed in TOPS, took off her baby weight and is at her goal again. "TOPS gave me time to lose the weight after the baby was born," she explains. "I was confident that if I continued to attend meetings, there would be the same focus on accountability that helped me before." There were definite challenges along the way. Julie developed severe, shooting pain in her right leg from sciatica. But she willed herself onto a before photo courtesy of member Julie joined her local chapter (TOPS MI 0486 Zeeland) three years after delivering her fourth daughter. Over the next two years, the Michigander changed her eating habits and made a conscious choice to walk or ride a bike daily. After she reached her goal weight, Julie became pregnant with her fifth child. She knew that this pregnancy had to be different from the others in that she could not— would not—treat it as what she calls "a license to go wild." "I lost control during my last pregnancy," Julie admits today. "I was busy, stressed, hungry and in denial about my weight gain. I used it as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I was determined to fight that impulse this time." To that end, Julie continued to follow the TOPS program under the supervision of her doctor, while allowing for specific pregnancy needs. "It is a good system that kept me accountable to what the doctor had set as a healthy weight gain," she says.

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