Karyl Justice Mullins of Lexington is the queen of the July 25 edition of People magazine for losing half her body weight.
Mullins, 38, a married mother of two, is one of five women the magazine profiled who have lost 100 pounds or more. On the magazine cover, the slimmer Mullins wears a fuchsia one-piece swimsuit. A “before” picture — also on the magazine cover — shows her wearing a blue shirt with the word “Kentucky” on the front.
Mullins, who is originally from Pike County, said she started at 256 pounds and lost half that: 128 pounds. She lost most of it in nearly two years. Now, she tries to keep her weight between 128 and 135 pounds — above that, she said, it’s time to get back to strict eating habits and exercise.
“I try to give myself some leeway because you can’t deprive yourself of everything because you’re going to fall off the wagon,” she said.
When Mullins started exercising, she tried kickboxing, which was hard on her joints at her original weight. She began walking, then power-walking and then eventually worked in intervals of running. Now she’s a runner.
Once going half a mile was tough, but “it gets so much easier, and I never thought I’d ever say that.”
Mullins attributes her weight loss to Weight Watchers — the organization nominated her for the People magazine story — and its emphasis on portion control, and to running at least four or five times a week for a total of 25 to 40 miles. She discovered that running gives her a feeling of calm.
Her goal: to do an Iron Man triathlon at age 40.
Mullins has passed on her healthful habits to daughter Penny, a student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and son Andrew, a sophomore at Lafayette High School. Both have taken up running.
Mullins’ weight-loss epiphany happened when a button popped off her pants and shot across the room. “I never dreamed I would ever have that happen. It was like something in a sitcom. It was embarrassing but eye-opening at the same time.”
“I still go to Weight Watchers religiously,” she said. “The members are kind of like my family now. They supported me when I didn’t succeed at times, and they supported me when I did.”
Her advice to those who want to lose weight is “to not feel embarrassed going to the gym or going to Weight Watchers. There are so many of us who can help, without any judgment.”