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I feel like I’ve spent the past couple of months lacking focus and motivation (to put it politely) when it comes to nutrition and working and out and, well, pretty much everything.  I have no problem blaming part of this on the weather – when even walking to the bus starts to look like a scene from the Iditarod, it is hard not to take comfort in the arms of pizza, red wine, my couch and a good book.  Add to this the fact that I’ve found myself working a fair amount on the weekends and my fitness goals were starting to take a back seat (which is so not where they belong).  So I jumped at the chance to participate in Healthwork’s Drop 10 Challenge. The promise of accountability and some friendly competition seems like just the kick in the (maybe fitting just a little too snug) pants I need.  I had my initial assessment on Saturday with Lauren and we got to sit down and talk as well.  It was great to be able to set some new goals and also to articulate some of the struggles I’ve had recently, as well as some of the things I’m really enjoying (TRX!).

I highly recommend sitting down every few months (no matter good or bad things are going) and taking stock – I left the gym feeling better (and more focused) than I have in months.  I realized (or maybe just admitted) that my biggest problem lately is that I’m not taking the time I need on the weekends to do proper meal planning and preparation, which means I end up eating crap throughout the week, which makes me feel like crap, etc., etc. (As an aside, my favorite part of Saturday’s conversation went like this:  Me:  “I’ve just been eating so much crap lately” / Lauren:  “I’d rather hear that you have been eating too much, but still eating healthy food” / Me:  “Well, I’d rather be able to tell you that – but I would be lying”).

I know that I do really well when I spend time on Sundays doing all my meal planning and preparation – but I’ve been letting other things (work, helping friends, bad TV) get in the way.  So this weekend found me with my recipe collection and my calculator planning out all of my meals for the week.  I then spent a few hours Sunday afternoon doing all the cooking.  And oh my, I made a new recipe from Eating Well for a healthy version of tuna noodle casserole – after the first bite (also, in the interest of full disclosure, after I made a second batch due to ruining the first one with my broiler), I remembered why it is worth it for me to take the time on the weekends to do this.

So tomorrow is the first Drop 10 workout.  I’m looking forward to it.  My team is totally going to win.  (Hence the title of this post).  That is, assuming the results of my Drop 10 are more successful than my first attempt at that tuna noodle casserole…


I am in search of new motivation.  Three years ago, I lost about 40 pounds.  This was a great accomplishment, and I have managed to keep it off since then, but I have been stuck on a plateau for a long time.  I’ve been taking two steps forward, two steps back over and over again and I need to break out of my old, tired habits and do something good for myself.

I turned 29 in July and I have just started to realize that this means that I will someday soon be turning 30.  I am setting a goal for myself to lose 30 pounds by the time I turn 30.  Hopefully I can get out of my own way enough to do this.  I have the skills and the knowledge, and now I need the motivation to get going and to keep myself going – not to get bored after a month and lose sight of my purpose.

I am no stranger to working out and working hard.  I take Spinning classes and I love Body Pump; I trained for and ran my first half marathon in June.  I also enjoy a lot of healthy foods and have incorporated clean eating into my life.  But, I have trouble getting both my workouts and my good eating habits to happen at the same time.  And if I have learned anything about losing weight and feeling good, it’s that these things need to coincide.

I hope that you enjoy reading my blog posts as I try to kick my own butt back into action and become the balanced, energized, happy 30 year old I know I can be.


Hello.  My name is Jen and this is the first of what I hope will be many insightful and witty (you’ll have to trust me on this) blog posts on  I’ve been a member at Healthworks Back Bay since 2005 and I recently took my workouts up a notch by doing the See Results program (I like it so much I did it twice actually).  As part of that program, I was writing a daily journal that got posted in the club.  I found that I really loved writing it and it became an important part of my weight loss process.  I lost 47 pounds and still have more to lose, so I’d love to keep writing for extremely selfish reasons.  On a more magnanimous front, I’ve realized that so many of us struggle with weight loss and fitness issues in a way that can feel really lonely sometimes. Sharing the struggles (and the occasional success!) helps us all support each other and sometimes that can make all the difference.  I am very lucky to be able to continue to share my journey with the Healthworks community.

I feel like I should have something really profound to say in my first post, but I don’t (and to be honest, I probably never will – I don’t want to get your hopes up or anything).  I’ll probably spend most of my time here making fun of myself, but I’ll try to talk about new workouts, ways to stay motivated, cooking ideas (which will actually fall into the “making fun of myself” category because I am an awesomely bad cook) and anything else that feels right.  I will also at some point probably mention how much I want to eat Cheez Its.  And drink margaritas.  Although not at the same time – no wait, I would totally eat Cheez Its and drink margaritas at the same time.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life.  I’ve gone up and down and done all sorts of stupid things to try to lose weight (as well as a few stupid things that caused me to gain weight).  So now I’m trying to take a more holistic and long-term view of things and do more than just lose weight – I’m trying to be healthy.  I don’t always succeed, but at least I’m headed in the right direction.

I’m leaving on October 1st for a two week trip to Europe (Czech Republic and Hungary).  I will do my best to send in some posts from abroad – but I might be more sporadic these first couple of weeks that I hope to be later on (way to make a good first impression, huh?)  Until then – Děkujeme!  That means “Thanks!” in Czech, which I realize isn’t really the most appropriate ending to this post, but it is the only Czech work I can remember (aside for the one for beer – which would be even *more* inappropriate) and I wanted to seem clever and international.


Good morning!

Welcome to the new Live Well Women blog!  We are excited to introduce our 4 new bloggers – Jen Blake, Carol Wilson, Johanna Smith and Jean Zove!

Jen, 34, has been a member at Healthworks since 2005.  She participates in the See Results program at Back Bay, and so far has lost 47 pounds!   As part of the program, Jen writes in a daily journal, documenting her weight loss struggles and successes.  As a new Healthoworks blogger, Jen will continue to share her trials and tribulations with weight loss and fitness for the Healthworks community!

Carol, 45, will be blogging for Healthworks as a busy, single mom of two.  As she battles her way through her mid-40s, Carol knows that it is now more important than ever to make her health  a priority, not only for the sake of her own wellness, but for the sake of her children.  Having faced several difficult personal challenges over the past few years, Carol is more than ready to share her wisdom and experiences with the Healthworks community.

Johanna, 29, has been a member at Healthworks Salem since 2002.  Johanna is currently stuck in a frustrating weight-loss plateau.  Having lost (and kept off) 40 pounds in the past, Johanna continues to struggle with losing those last unwanted pounds.  Johanna hopes to inspire the Healthworks community by sharing her struggles with other members that face the same obstacle.

Jean, 27, recently rejoined Healthworks in Cambridge.  As a busy marketing professional, graduate student, writer and yoga instructor, Jean is learning how to find a healthy balance in her hectic lifestyle.   Jean hopes to inspire readers with stories, tips and tricks for healthy living – no matter how chaotic or demanding your schedule may be!

We look forward to getting to know these women as they lead healthy, balanced lives in Greater Boston!

I haven’t posted in a long time. I won’t bore you with my many and varied excuses. There is no excuse, but there is a reason—lack of motivation. As my motivation has waned, my weight loss has slowed—chicken and egg here. Who knows which one came first? At any rate, lack of motivation has effected every part of my life. Not only have I not been blogging, I have not been going to the gym regularly, except for personal training sessions. (Thank God for them!) However, for the first time in five months, I cancelled training—not once but twice—and always at the last minute. Again there was always an excuse—not a made up excuse either. The difference was that in the first months I allowed nothing to get in the way of me and a training session!

The only thing I have hung on to with great resolution is my eating plan. I still never eat refined carbs or sugar and generally record my food intake as assiduously as I can. When that slipped a bit last week (I didn’t record anything for two days), I got scared. I knew that I was getting close to giving up altogether.

So, I am now looking for strategies to help me stay focused. One will be weekly doctor visits. When I started on this program, I saw the doctor every week for just 10 or 15 minutes. Then when things were going smoothly, he and I agreed that once every two weeks would work. When I saw him last week, we both decided that I needed to come every week again until I felt a bit stronger.

I continue to lose weight, but at a much slower pace. I’m now at 201 and waiting breathlessly to make my first goal of 199—what some Weight Watchers folks call Onederland! Motivation is slowly returning, but the exercise continues to be a challenge.

One good thing—I am now blogging again.

 – Cheryl

I was feeling particularly nostalgic this weekend, and decided to look over some old photos. I dug up pictures of myself from when I was a little girl (so cute), and then an awkward high school student (everybody has a phase, I’m sure), and then a really fat college student. Oh boy, was I surprised at what I actually looked like. I’ve always struggled with my weight, and although I was always aware that I was very heavy – well, it’s funny how I normalized my self-image. Yes, I knew I was overweight, but sometimes I would think, “it’s not that bad.” I got used to being a certain way, and I think that’s why it was so hard to really make changes in my life.

The truth is that it really was that bad. I’ve kept track of the number of pounds I’ve lost this year (70-ish) and the sizes in clothing I’ve gone down (4 or 5) – and I know that I am much more active. Somehow, though, I still think of myself as the weight I was last year, and before. Looking at those pictures, though, I realized just how far I’ve come. I look and feel so different.

Body image is a strange beast. I have perceived myself differently throughout my life, often depending on how nice my hair looks or if I put on make-up that morning. Sometimes I have felt trapped inside my body and incapable of liking the way I looked and felt. Taking control, though, has made a world of difference to the way I perceive myself. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I still have a ways to go (I say that a lot, but it’s true). The changes in my self-confidence have been incredible, though, and I know other people have noticed it. I never would have said, before last year, that I love my body. And now I catch myself saying it all the time, especially after a half marathon or a particularly intense workout.

Getting here has certainly been a journey – life is a journey, as they say – and it’s amazing to step back and just think about the distances I’ve traveled since I started to really care about myself.

– Hannah

In the last blog I said that I was going to attend my first class and report back. Well I’m happy to say that the Zumba class was the most fun I’ve had doing anything that could be called exercise. I sweated and smiled for a whole hour–certainly a first for me. The class was taught by Iliana whose energy is positively contagious. Her manner and the Latin beat would make even the most confirmed couch potato get up and move. I also very much enjoyed her friendly open manner. We all wore name tags and she definitely fostered a real feeling of community in the class.

Most importantly I could do it. I lasted for the whole hour. Each of the approximately 10 songs we danced to had about 4 different moves, that weren’t difficult to learn and with plenty of repetition, I was (mostly) able to keep up. Some of the steps were quite quick, so sometimes I did three steps to her four, but I still got a good workout.

I had my heart rate monitor on and glanced at it from time to time. It was mostly about 130–good enough for me–especially since it stayed up there for an hour. I am now busy looking for other dance type classes. I realize I’ve found my niche. I’m going to dance myself thin. I’m so happy to have a fun alternative to the dreaded elliptical and treadmill. I won’t give up the stepmill. Even though I hate it, you get a lot of bang for your buck on that one. I highly recommend Iliana’s class at Back Bay on Thursdays at 9:30 am.

I’m off to Florida to see my mom tomorrow morning. All on my own–no doctor, no trainer, no gym–we’ll see how I do. (Of course, I will have my mom who at 84 is still hopeful that I will lose weight!

– Cheryl

The scale has been pretty slow to respond lately, so I’ve been looking for other ways to measure my progress. One of the most exciting happened this week when I went shoe shopping. For the past twenty years I have been wearing wide shoes. In fact, for the past ten, I’ve had to get WW. This severely limited my choice of style. Lots of pretty shoes are only made for people with M width feet. Well, I’m happy to report that a few days ago, I bought four pairs of cute, medium-width shoes!

I also fit into size 16s—not all 16s—some pants are still too tight, but I’m probably only about a month away.

And then there’s the airplane seatbelt….

Those of you who have never been severely overweight may not realize that it is possible to be able to fit in an airplane seat but not be able to cinch the seat belt. I made this embarrassing discovery on an Air France flight to Paris several years ago. I was traveling with a friend who convinced me I had to admit my problem to the flight attendant.  I finally did—deciding that a psychological harm I might suffer by asking for help was nothing compared to the physical harm that I might experience in the case of a rough landing. The kind flight attendant seeing my consternation, surreptitiously handed me a seatbelt extender and I buckled myself in. Realizing that it was unlikely that I would be significantly thinner after a week in Paris and so would likely need that device again, I slipped it into my purse and have carried it on every flight since. Sometimes, I’ve needed it. Sometimes I haven’t.

I usually need it on  flights outside the US—I always needed to use it on domestic carriers in Mexico and Nigeria and sometimes on KLM. However, I have never used it on a US flight. I guess that says something about the average waist size  of Americans.

At any rate, the news is that I now easily fit into the seatbelt. In fact, when I pulled it tight,  I had about seven inches left over!

Just goes to show you that you can measure progress in lots of ways.

 – Cheryl

How do you measure your weight loss success?

Ever since I joined four months ago I have been watching the women in the Zumba class having  a great time. I love to dance. In fact, it is the only kind of exercise that I have done voluntarily. However, I didn’t feel that I would be able to keep up, so didn’t join. My commitment to exercise was so tenuous at first, that I didn’t want to jeopardize it by doing anything that would make me feel bad about myself. So, I promised myself that by my birthday I would be ready to take a Zumba class. Today is that day. 


A Zumba class in full swing!

I am still a bit nervous and I am certainly not looking forward to watching myself in the mirror. (My workout clothes show every bulge!) I am also a bit afraid about being judged by the other women. I wish I could wear a sign saying “I’ve lost 45 pounds and know I’ve still got a long way to go.” I know this is stupid and most people are not here to judge others, but it still worries me a bit. I am also nervous about not being able to do all the moves. If we have to get on the floor, forget it! Getting my 200+ pounds up and down without hanging on to something is difficult and awkward to say the least.

I am hoping if Zumba works out, I will start taking other classes. I think this will be one of the best ways for me to get my exercise in. My doctor has me working toward a goal of 7 hours of exercise a week. Classes would help a lot. I’ll write later and tell you how I did.

– Cheryl

Deb walked into basic step class for the first time one Monday night nearly five years ago when I taught in Minnesota. She had never been to a gym, and she had never taken a group fitness class.  I greeted her when she introduced herself and told me that her doctor had cleared her for exercise.  She explained that she needed to lose 100 pounds, and she would start by taking my class. When I gave Deb a quick overview of class, she nodded and looked around the studio nervously.  I pointed to where the step benches were stacked, and she said, “Well, I don’t think I can use a bench yet, but I can do the moves just with my feet—in the back of the room.  And I don’t know if I’ll make it the whole hour.”

No one had ever taken my step class without actually using the step, so I had no idea what to expect.  All I knew is that Deb’s revelation about not being able to lift her legs onto that bench made me realize the long journey she had ahead of her.  I realized Deb’s incredible bravery and her determination to make a serious change in her life. Deb’s first class was scary for me as an instructor because I worried when her face turned bright pink and when she stopped frequently to wipe her brow with the sweat towel.  But she kept her feet moving the whole time.  She completed the entire class.  I was ever so proud of someone I just met.  All she said was, “I’ll be back!”

When Deb showed up again the next week, I was thrilled.  So often, women take that first step of entering the gym, a place that can feel intimidating or awkward, and they’ve already crossed an enormous hurdle, but then something painful or embarrassing happens which prevents them from returning.  Difficult as it must have been for Deb, she kept coming back.  She kept doing step class without a bench, and she always smiled on her way out the door.  Funny enough, my mom was the instructor who took over teaching my basic step class when I moved to Boston.  Every so often, I would ask her about Deb, waiting for the day my mom would tell me she used that step bench for the very first time.

I’ve lost track of Deb since my mom retired from teaching.  But I will not forget her—how great her goal was and how much heart she put into achieving it.  Sometimes as I open the front door to the gym, I remember her and how inspired I am by the fact that she isn’t afraid to keep opening that door. 

– Sarah