What It's Really Like To Lose 160 Pounds (NSFW)

Photo: Courtesy of Julia Kozerski.
At the age of 25, Julia Kozerski weighed 338 pounds and was diagnosed as "morbidly obese." Hoping to improve her quality of life, she embarked upon what she calls her "own self-directed, healthy-living journey." This included exercising more, focusing on nutrition, controlling the portions she ate — and photographing herself. By the end of her journey, Kozerski had lost over 160 pounds and taken countless photos of her body's transformation. This is how her photo series, Half, came to be.

"When I initially began photographing myself, the images were close-up skin shots and those where my face can't be seen," Kozerski told Refinery29. "Truthfully, I was embarrassed of what I'd 'done' to myself."

As Kozerski discovered, losing as much weight as 160 pounds at one time can have dramatic effects that go beyond the physical. Getting to know her body after the weight loss was as much a part of Kozerki's journey as the weight loss itself. "I was coming to terms with the reality of my experience and my body through [photography]," she said.

Kozerski started her journey in 2009, but it still has an impact on her life today. "I revisit these images on a daily basis. As weird as it sounds, I have some of them hanging in my home," she said. Despite her initial discomfort with photographing herself, Kozerski has embraced this chapter of her life, noting that our bodies can tell a powerful story all on their own.

"Every stretch mark, every scar, every dimple and mark — it's who we are," she said. "I wish more people could experience themselves as I did while making my work, and gain a better appreciation for their own gifts."

Click ahead to view Half and to read Kozerski's thoughts on her journey.

It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach, here.