With fitness, we tend to think that how we feel on the inside will change when we like what we see on the outside. But the truth is usually just the reverse. Julia Morales always thought she’d be happy if she were thinner, so she lost 100 pounds and… was more miserable than ever.
Through the Onnit 6 fitness transformation Challenges, and the Onnit Tribe—our private Facebook support group—Morales gained self-confidence, improved her health, and embraced a community of kindred spirits. And before long, those changes started showing up in how she looked.
Morales was interviewed live by Shane Heins, Onnit’s Director of Fitness Education, for this week’s Onnit Story—part of an ongoing series where we feature real Onnit community members who have changed their lives with our help. Watch the interview below, or see the edited transcript of the highlights, time-stamped so you can find these moments in the video.
You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every other week.
Julia Morales Show Notes
4:40 – Getting Onnit
Julia Morales: I’ve always known that I wanted to do something greater—to give back. Standing up for others has always been important to me. But I wasn’t always standing up for myself, and people weren’t receiving my message because I wasn’t taking care of myself. While physical appearance doesn’t equal your worth, I didn’t want my appearance to get in the way of my message. I didn’t want how I was treating myself to be a detriment to reaching other people.
I heard about Onnit in the early days of the Aubrey Marcus podcast. It was during a time where I was really working on myself, and doing some deep diving on what it means to be an adult. I was trying to figure out for myself what it means to stand up and use my voice and be confident. I wanted to work on my mental and emotional self, but also my physical self, so that people could see confidence radiate from me. So when I found Onnit, the first program that I bought was Onnit 6 Steel Mace—because nothing says confidence like wielding a mace around like you just came from a battlefield.
9:15 – Joining the Onnit Tribe
I saw there was this Facebook community right at the start of the pandemic. When I got involved with the Tribe, I was still experiencing a lot of turmoil with my body image. I saw the Tribe as an opportunity to share what I was going through.
I had done tons of diets and exercise programs before, and the common denominator was that I was always doing them all alone—and I would beat myself up when it wasn’t going well. So when I found this tight-knit community of people who didn’t care about the scale, or about your background, or athletic ability, it was a relief to me, because I just wanted to be healthy. I always wanted to be active, loving, joyful, and passionate about my life. But until I found the Tribe, it didn’t feel like there was a place for me to do that.
Coming into the Onnit Tribe, I was able to share my progress on the Steel Mace program, and the fact that I was struggling with myself and my weight. Right away, I had people telling me, “Give yourself grace. Ditch the scale, just keep going.” These people, very lovingly, gave me tips on how to correct things. It was such a relief to find a space where I could just see where I was in my fitness journey with no judgments.
I was able to lean on others when I needed to, and I grew to trust myself more. Slowly, I could feel my judgments about myself dissipate. The Tribe was a space for me to be myself, and that has ultimately given me permission to be myself around other people in my life—not just on the internet.
14:55 – On Body Image
I always felt that I should be smaller. That I should look a certain way. I had this feeling that looking better was the only value that I could bring to the table, and that showed up in a lot of my romantic relationships as well as in my friendships. It was all about being attractive. “It’s how I look, not my value as a person.”
I was so worried about being accepted. All I wanted was to be loved, to be heard, and to have something to say. My diets and workouts were never about nutrition and health—they were me subconsciously punishing myself. Eventually, what I found is that I am who I am, and I’m worthy of feeding my body. My value as a person is not attached to my size or my presentation.
The Tribe was so helpful when I would post that I was having a bad day. I’d get 70 comments on a post saying, “Ditch the scale. Who cares? You’re doing incredible.” I found a ton of empowerment through the Onnit 6 Challenges. I began to look at my life not as how I could change the way I look, but as how I can slowly add blocks to what I’m doing and build up to a longer-term goal.
I could finally say to myself, “While I’m not where I would like to be in this moment, I’m still incredibly happy, because I’m strong, I’m mobile, and I’m at peace with myself.” I like what I see in the mirror now because I love myself. So my journey with body image has been about acceptance, and having the humility and the grace to understand that I might mess up along the way, and that that’s OK. I can always keep going. I can always add another one percent instead of trying to go from 0 to 100 all the time.
Of course I still care about how I look on the outside, but I don’t let it define me. I’ve discovered this base level of who I am, and then added layers to it—whether that’s through the way I do my hair, or by wearing glitter, or my favorite Onnit shirt while I work out. These things aren’t the base of my self-worth; they’re just outward expressions of what I already feel about myself on the inside. If we all took the time to look at how we choose to express ourselves as amplifiers of who we are deep down, I really feel like the world would be a more colorful, vibrant place.
26:45 – On Moderation
Every time I would diet or exercise really hard, I’d crash and burn. I was tired of starting over. Tired of feeling I had to keep reinventing who I was. Instead of scrapping everything I had been doing, I started to look at what had been working, and slowly began to build on that.
In the past, I had had my dream body. I lost 100 pounds in a very short amount of time. But when I got to that place, I was miserable. I hated myself. I was in a very toxic relationship. I had achieved this goal, but the person I became to get there was not who I wanted to be.
My journey now is about healing, loving myself, and being strong and fit. Yes, it will be hard, but it doesn’t have to be excruciating. I don’t have to suffer along the way. I want to be proud of my body in a whole different way than I ever thought I could be before. Instead of having that dream body, I would love to be able to squat 300 pounds, because that would be epic.
32:30 – Julia’s Favorite Supplement
33:30 – Favorite Onnit Foods
The Onnit Protein Bites, Cookie Dough… oh, my God. They’re so good. So good.
34:10 – Favorite Fitness Equipment
The 10-pound steel mace is my favorite piece of equipment. Right now, I’m outfitting my home gym, and it’s been really hard to find dumbbells. But I’m amazed at how much I can do with the steel clubs. They’re super versatile.
35:15 – Favorite Onnit Fitness Programs
I really love the Move and Groove Onnit in 30 workouts. Right now, I’m doing the Onnit 6 Barbell program, but my heart lies with Onnit 6 Steel Mace, and I always recommend that one to people. If you want to feel awesome, like you just walked off a battlefield, get a steel mace.
36:55 – The Fictional Character She Would Use to Describe Herself… and Shane Heins
There’s a popular anime out now called Demon Slayer, and I’m striving to be like the main character, Tanjiro. He fights the bad guys, but he’s always paying homage to them in the fight by seeing the parallels of how he could have been one of them himself.
I think that is such an interesting take on superheroes. Sometimes, we get caught up in, “Those are the bad guys.” We don’t want to be like so-and-so. But I love that this character pauses to see the path he could have gone down. There’s this level of respect when he fights that really resonates with me.
Shane, you would definitely be… So there’s this cartoon called We Bare Bears, which is an adventure about three bears, and they all have different personalities. I feel like you’re all three of them. One of them is shy. One is very analytical, but always has the best jokes at the most random times. And then there’s one that is just pure joy—silly and goofy. I feel like you are all of the We Bare Bears at the same time.
Shane Heins: I’m going to go look them up…
39:50 – Julia’s Biggest Wins
A big but also unexpected win from the Onnit 6 workouts was fixing my anterior pelvic tilt. I always had lower-back pain as a result. One day, I posted photos in the Tribe of me standing to the side, and I could see that in the before picture, my pelvis was tilted forward. In the after shot, it looked much better. I had a duck butt before, and now, I have zero back pain. I used to be in tears almost every night if I didn’t stretch because it hurt so bad, and now, I can be on my feet all day, or go on a long hike, and my back is not an issue.
But confidence, I would say, is my big overall win.
43:00 – Julia’s Brussels Sprouts Recipe For People Who Hate Brussels Sprouts
Part of my journey has been learning to enjoy eating healthy. For so long, I thought eating healthy meant I have to have a salad for every meal. I have to do a green juice. But in learning to optimize my eating, I fell in love with cooking, and now I’m really having fun with it. So here’s my Brussells sprouts recipe.
You buy some beautiful balsamic vinegar and sea salt. Chop the ends off the sprouts, and then cut them in half, and dress them with the vinegar and salt. Now bake them in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. They’ll come out crunchy on the outside, but soft in the middle. It is so good. I promise you, you will love vegetables after that.
45:00 – What Happens When You Stop Posting In The Tribe
Something you need to know about the Tribe is that if you’re in there and you haven’t posted your workout in a week, there’s somebody who’s missing you. There’s somebody that is going to message you and say, “Just making sure you’re still doing your workout.” It always brings a smile to my face that someone is noticing my hard work, and also caring about what I have to say.
46:25 – Julia’s Mantra
I tell myself I have everything it takes and more. I tend to doubt what I’m capable of, so whether I’m learning a new fitness move, or figuring out how I’m going to like vegetables, I remind myself I’m going to follow through the whole way. For so long, I doubted myself or I stopped when things got hard. Now I have the self-assurance that it’s going to be OK, and I will figure it out. Whether it takes five minutes to Google something, or a year to find something that works for you, you have to keep following through.
49:10 – Julia’s Advice On Setting Goals
As I said, my goals were to look a certain way, and now they’re to get stronger, to be an awesome future mom, and to be an awesome community member. Overall, my goal is to keep being more me, whatever that means, in the moment.
For those who have a singular goal in mind, like weight loss, my advice is to keep holding onto that goal, but here’s the thing—do not be rigid about how you’re going to achieve it. Realize that it’s going to take a lot of learning along the way to get there. For example, I have this goal to squat 300 pounds. And I have this bodyweight that I would like to be one day, but I’m flexible on how I’ll achieve these things, because each level that I get to along the way will require a different version of myself. You keep growing and learning on the way to a goal, and that affects the path you take to complete it. I can have this goal and keep the discipline it requires, but I also have to be flexible on how I choose to get there and about how long it will take. Keep that in mind, and you’ll have much more fun achieving your goals.