Judith Blowe exudes confidence in both appearance and conversation. She's often found at Gold's Gym in Lorton working out on the treadmill.
A civilian human resource management specialist at Fort Belvoir, the 39-year Lorton resident was once unhappy and self-conscious of her weight. Then she joined others for Dr. Philip McGraw's Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.
McGraw is best known for his television show, "Dr. Phil." Blowe has appeared several times on his show as a success story.
When she first appeared, the five foot six inch Blowe weighted 235 pounds. That was last August. "I now weigh 180 and I'm determined to reach 165," she said.
"So how do you feel when you look in the mirror?" Dr. Phil asked Blowe during a one-on-one interview that aired last summer. "I feel disgusting," she said.
Those feelings have also changed in the last year. By May 5, when the show aired its finale of the weight loss program, Blowe had lost more than 60 pounds. But, she did not stop her newly adopted life style.
Her road to weight loss all started while viewing the "Dr. Phil" show where she normally fast forwards through the commercials. One day an advertisement for Dr. Phil's "weight loss challenge" caught her attention. It requested video tape entries for potential entrants.
Blowe submitted one and was selected. She and 12 other contestants traveled to Beverly Hills, Calif., where they were housed in a multi-million dollar mansion. On one occasion, former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Shaquille O'Neal's personal chef cooked dinner for them.
Finally, they were interviewed by Dr. Phil and Blowe was selected. Following that she traveled to California twice a month to tape segments of the show which kept viewers and show producers alike up-to-date on her progress.
AFTER DEVELOPING A WORKOUT plan and changing her dietary habits, Blowe said she began to develop more self confidence. "Prior to starting this program, food was my comfort. Every day I had a large bag of Doritos," she said.
"When I was bored. I would eat. When I went through mood swings. I would eat," she said. Blowe used food to fill the voids in her life.
Between trips to California, Blowe began her work out sessions at the gym. Barb Hall, master trainer at the gym in Lorton, raves about working with Blowe.
"Well, I can tell you, she's one of the hardest working people in here. In the beginning and throughout the year many times she'd be here twice a day," Hall said. "And, dedication makes the biggest difference."
Blowe often shows up at the gym before 5 a.m., according to Hall. "She has the most positive attitude and she's a real fun person. That's what makes it so nice," Hall said.
THE ONLY DAY Blowe doesn't workout is Sunday. But, she exercises twice on Monday to compensate. She's at the gym at 4:30 a.m. prior to work and is back at the gym at 6:30 p.m. for spin classes. On days she can't get to the gym, Blowe exercises on her elliptical workout machine that was provided to her by the Dr. Phil Show.
She is now a spokesperson for the joys of weight loss. On June 2 she spoke to a group at the DeWitt Army Community Hospital Wellness Center at Fort Belvoir. And she is more than willing to provide advise on a regular basis, she said.
She has also started working with others at Gold's Gym who wish to lose weight and get in shape. "We call it the weight loss challenge group," Hall said.
This has all led to other engagements in the world of television and magazines. She has appeared on Entertainment Tonight and in an advertisement in Oprah Winfrey's "O" magazine. As for an appearance on Oprah's show, Blowe said, "Not yet."
But, in the fall she plans to make a guest appearance on The Bernie Mac Show and also has a script for a role in the CBS daytime soap opera, "Young and the Restless." She said, "I just don't know what role I'm going to play."
Blowe loves the fame. "My dream was always to be on TV. And I got that dream with the Dr. Phil show," she said.
When asked to compare life today to that of a year ago, she said, "It's just another life." She now has a boyfriend whom she met through a mutual friend and is confident her future looks bright.
"It was hard and I struggled. I'll tell anybody it is not easy. It is not easy losing weight. But, the Dr. Phil show and all the other things is an experience I will always remember," she said.