Hula hooping my way to fitness

Six years ago you might not have recognized Christabel, the now famous ‘Hoop Girl.’

If you had bumped into her on her campus, you would have seen a young woman well on her way to a career as a university professor, a serious student who had received her master’s degree in cultural anthropology. You would have also seen that Christabel was wearing baggy unflattering clothes, uncomfortable with her body, and tipping the scales at 180 lbs.

According to her, she was the product of living in a college culture that considered eating and partying a popular pastime.

All this changed when Christabel attended a conference on sustainability in Los Angeles. “They had this icebreaker exercise involving hula hooping, so everyone went out into the streets and had hula hoops. I was one of the few people in the group who couldn’t keep the hoop up at all. It was intimidating, but fascinating to me, so I decided to buy a hula hoop and take it home so I could practice.”

Christabel found renewed health and well-being through hula hoping, virtually by default. “It wasn’t like I told myself, oh I am going to work out now with my hoop. I was more like, now I have some time to go hoop in the park. That’s literally why I did it, because it felt good and I wanted to have fun with my friends, turn on the boombox and have an excuse to hang out together, but also stay active and be inspired by the different dances we were each doing.”

“I think it’s about creating a lifestyle, it’s about creating a way of living your life that feels good. It feels good learning to re-educate yourself about what’s really good for you.”

The self made ‘Hoop Girl’ soon began performing for movie openings, galas, concerts and guest starring in commercials. She was satisfied with her love of hooping, but was concerned that it wasn’t fulfilling a higher purpose in the world. “I was becoming aware of the obesity epidemic, and people needing ways to be physically active, and I realized I had to take something that I love doing for artistic reasons and find a way to tie it to a larger purpose—wellness.

Christabel created a company called Hoop Girl and began providing teacher training certifications, classes, hoops and instructional DVD’s to men and women all over the world. “What makes hoop dance today different from what people look at as hula hoping of the 50’s era is that it is a true dance form. It’s almost like crumping or breakdance, but it’s more fluid and less intimidating. It’s sexier, but also more accessible.”

Christabel is a proponent of what she calls body-mind fitness, a state of being that combines the physical body and the emotional body, the spirit. “Hooping gives people a way to bring wholeness and well-being to every part of their lives. It can be a spiritual experience for those who are able to make space in their mind and connect with a larger sense of the universe, than they might otherwise allow themselves to do. And it’s all through this very unassuming plastic ring that is accessible to anybody.”

Check out her website and get hooping!

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Hoop It Up
Find hoops, DVDs, classes, clothes, performances and everything else you need to wrap your mind around the Christabel Hoop Girl phenomenon.

Spin Me Right Round
Get more Christabel – in dramatic performances, how-to videos and playing around – at her personal video page on YouTube.

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Diet Right
To better understand Christabel’s diet shift, check out Vegan Action, a website that shows you how to – and what to – eat if you’re thinking of making the change too.

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A Heart to Heart with the author of Half Assed

Jennette Fulda, who recently published her weight loss memoir Half Assed. The minute we landed on her blog Half of Me, respect and admiration poured out of our fingertips and the rest of the workday was lost to her extensive archives.

Jennette has put her two-year weight loss journey out there for all to see, to show the good, the bad, the frustrated and the elated. (And she showed a rotating 360-degree view of it because she happens to be a savvy web technician as well as an extraordinary writer.)

Jennette recently chatted with us about the ups, the downs and the static middle of the road parts of weight loss. Interestingly, her biggest struggle was learning to cook, but now she’s got a recipe for stuffed chicken that’ll make 10 minutes in the kitchen taste like at least 30.

Chapter 2 of Jennette’s weight loss is maintaining, which she has done successfully for a year. She said maintaining is almost more difficult than losing because you don’t get the thrill of seeing that you’ve lost a pound in a week, but by keeping it interesting and bringing in new activities, she’s staying motivated to stay the same.

Jennette’s real life commitment to weight loss and her day-by-day attitude makes the process of shedding extra pounds seem possible. She’ll be the first to tell you trying to lose it in a day just won’t work, but losing it doesn’t mean being perfect. It means being aware.

The process of losing weight is a slow one that requires dedication for, well, basically the rest of your life. It forces you to choose between effortless indulgence or disciplined sacrifice, but, as Jennette knows, the lasting benefits to your health and your body far outweigh the instant gratification of that Honey Bun.

Jennette recently went on the Today Show to talk about her weight loss journey and her new book. She once again offered up that 360-degree view of weight loss, and in doing so, paints an accurate picture of a real woman’s weight loss experience.

To learn more about Jennette’s weight loss story, order a SIGNED copy of Half Assed from her website.

Dietgirl to the rescue!

It was mid January of 2001, 23 year-old Shauna was doing laundry, “I was hanging my knickers on the line. Size 26 and gigantic, they were so worn out that the elastic was gone and the fabric transparent… Then I hung up my little sisters. Hers were like a size 6 and frilly and dainty. I remember looking up at the contrast between them and thinking, ‘I’m twenty-three years old. I can’t believe I’m wearing granny pants. How can these possibly belong to me.’”

Well, 8,000 miles, 7 years, and 175 pounds later, Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be. A real-life superhero, she has blogged her way through defeating her demons and conquering her cravings all while traveling the globe and meeting the man of her dreams in a Scottish pub. “I lost my job. I lost my grandfather. I moved half way across the world. I had to start to realize that I was going to have to step back from my black and white thinking—I realized that I didn’t have to wait until I was skinny to do things,” said Shauna.

Practically raised in weight watchers meetings, Shauna was all too familiar with the dieter’s mentality. Self-loathing came as naturally (and as often) as breathing air. But one day Shauna decided that a life of bullying her body into social perfection was just not good enough. She wanted more—it was time to feel comfortable in her skin. Easier said than done…

The real ticket to Shauna’s success was creating her wildly successful blog, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl. With her wry humor and sage-like optimism Shauna set out on her journey to self-love and found strength in the community of the interweb. “While I knew what to do with what I ate and how I moved, I’d never done the work on sorting out what was in my head,” Shauna said. ”Why did I over eat? Why did I turn to food for comfort? And writing about it was the way that I started to unravel all of the issues in my head.”

What’s the hardest part about losing half of your body weight? Changing the way you talk to yourself. “Once I started treating myself kindly with good food and exercise instead of disgust and anger,” she writes, “I started to appreciate my body, lumps and bumps and all. There was more to me than the size of my jeans, after all.”

No better words have graced our ears.

5 things to remember

1. You don’t have to be perfect, just persistent.

“When you have a bad day—or bad months—you don’t have to give up. It may not being the ideal situation, but if you do the best you can you will get there. It may not be as fast, or perfect as you hoped. But what is?”

2. Be prepared.
“Rather than waiting for hunger to strike and being so tired after work that I just go through the drive-thru or order a pizza, I take the time to plan my meals for the week and do the shopping so that I’m prepared. I have healthy foods in my cupboards at home. I have healthy foods in my desk at work. I still eat the foods that I really enjoy. I just plan them in rather than gobbling them all of the time.”

3. Let go of the idea that you are either on or off the wagon.
4. Accept that life gets in the way.

5. Set new challenges.
“I have an orange belt in kickboxing (which means I am qualified to kick down an old lady). It’s not just about eating healthy and trudging off to the gym, it’s an activity; it’s a new experience; I’m learning something. So it’s not an endless bore. I don’t go to class so that I can burn calories so that I can eat my dinner tonight, I go because it’s fun.”

Overall, this weight losing superstar’s philosophy boils down to this: Do the healthy more often than you don’t do the healthy thing. Remember that life is not about numbers and scales, it’s about eating well and being kind to yourself. And that’s a lesson we can all learn—weight-loss game or not.

Shauna’s book is out now in the USA! Check out The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl.

MORE TIPS amp;& TOOLS

Listen up!
Tune in for Shauna’s interview podcast with Back in Skinny Jeans

Read Shauna’s blog
Just do it! You’ll thank us later.

10 blog’s to drool over when you are on a diet
Check out Shauna’s picks for what to read.

Tipping the scales: A midlife crisis

For most of her life Bonnie never had to struggle with her weight. In fact, a normal weight for her was less than 100 lbs. “In my growing up years, my teenage years, and my young adult years I was very, very thin. I am not even five feet tall. I am a very small person, so that was my normal weight.”

“When I had my first child I went to 130 lbs—that is 30lbs on a small body. I lost most of it quickly and got down to 115, but that was still 15 lbs more than I normally weighed. Then with the next child I went to 150 lbs, and it took me three years to get me down to 115. My last child was premature, she weighed 4 lbs and I gained maybe 40 lbs. I was almost 40 when I had that baby and that is when it began, my hormones changed. And it was a real struggle.”

Bonnie is a self proclaimed naturalist; of course she looked for the most natural way to help with weight loss. After some research, she found an herb called Hoodia that helped her lose the weight. “Hoodia worked for me, but I also learned that your body needs to eat. You can never lose weight by not eating. You have to eat and you have to eat smart. I drink soy protein drinks, and I eat very well, very naturally.”

Along with conscious eating, maintaining your health also means maintaining an active lifestyle. Getting creative with how you move your body does not have to be as specific as running on a treadmill everyday. “A dear friend of mine, her husband is a paraplegic. He is a fine artist and amazing, but he is also as big as my finger. One day I said, “Gee, he is so thin,” and she said, “Do you see what he is doing? He is sitting in the chair wiggling. His doctor says that he burns 4,200 calories a day just through his wiggles.” I thought to myself, if I sit there and read a book and shake my hand, can I lose weight? Yes! Any movement counts.”

As an acting teacher, Bonnie used one of her own exercises in accountability to give herself a reality check. “You shut the door and you don’t tell anyone what you are going to do. You strip naked and assess what you have. But instead of going “I hate my hips,” look at what is beautiful. There are more lovely things happening in a woman’s body than there are things that are horrible.”

Eating smart is half the battle, check out the 11 Best Foods You Are not Eating to give your body some love.

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23 Ways About It
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The food pyramid as we know it is forever gone. Check out My Pyramid, where you can customize a balanced diet of grains, fruits, veggies and proteins that works for you!

Real women, real secrets for staying in shape

Real women on the street share their secrets and practical tricks for staying in shape.

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Breaking the Tape
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Whole Grain Nation
Test your whole grain IQ and figure out how much more you should be eating at Whole Grain Nation.

The New Pyramid Plan
The food pyramid as we know it is forever gone. Check out My Pyramid, where you can customize a balanced diet of grains, fruits, veggies and proteins that works for you!

What’s Quinoa?
Learn all about this delicious, nutty superfood and all the creative ways to bring it into your diet.

23 Ways About It
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How a trainer helped me get fit… FINALLY

“People around me said—you can’t audition looking like that.”

When Traci got cast in the role of the ‘best friend’ at her first NYC audition, she took an honest look at herself.

“Regardless of my talent, regardless of whether I was the best fit for the role, I knew that it had something to do with, or I felt, that it had something to do with my weight,” Traci said.

“And that sort of propelled me into thinking about my weight and looking at myself realistically saying, what am I doing? Why am I here?”

Traci began working out with a trainer, who gave her the tools, taught her how to eat for weight loss and exercise properly. More than anything, Donna taught Traci to believe that what she wanted for herself was possible.

“My two-day-a-week workout turned into three, then four, then turned into me cutting back on certain foods like bread, rice and sugar,” she said. “I started eating tons of fruit and vegetables, and I noticed that I felt better. I came out of that depression-like state I had when I first went to New York. Within five months, my body was completely transformed.”

Traci had been overweight her whole life. She wasn’t used to being thin, and her body resisted every pound she lost. It took her about 7 months of commitment and discipline to shed 20 pounds.

Finally being able to experience what losing weight felt like, understand how to do it was a huge learning experience for Traci.

“I learned how to eat and how to keep challenging myself in new ways,” she said. “I learned how to express myself in new ways, both physically and emotionally.

“Working with Donna allowed me to stand in a different way, walk into a bar in a different way and order from a menu in a different way. I finally feel comfortable and confident with myself.”

Fitness trainers are popular and they get results, but making a good match takes effort. Check out this article for some tips on not just why you need one, but how to find the right one.

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How I lost 40lbs by… walking around!

Leigh struggled with her weight for all of her adult life. She tried diet shakes, counting calories, cleansing fasts… nothing worked.

Finally she realized it wasn’t her intake that mattered as much as it was her outlook.

She decided to concentrate on a lifestyle overhaul and began pairing healthy eating habits with simple exercise routines.

Knowing that big changes come by taking small steps, she first started taking her dogs for walks every day. The two labradors loved running around outside, and keeping up with them proved to be a great workout for Leigh.

Gradually fitness started becoming a priority for her and she headed to a gym to strength train.

“After the first day I could barely move,” she said. “But I just kept doing it. I lifted weights and did lunges and did free weights. I did all the things that you’re kind of intimidated to try, especially at a gym with sweaty guys everywhere, but the free weights were necessary for me to get in shape.”

When it came to cardio, Leigh also had to work her way up.

“My first experience on the treadmill I walked extremely slow, but at the time I thought it was pretty fast,” she said. “I then just bumped it up a little more every day, go a minute longer or a little faster each time.”

The rewards of taking it slow and adopting a long-term healthy lifestyle paid off in more ways than Leigh initially expected. She thought she’d be healthier, but she didn’t realize how much being fit would put her back in touch with her body. Her husband began to mark her progress by their hugs, noting that he could touch his wrists, then his elbows, when they embraced. Eventually she had to buy new clothes, shoes, and even have her ring resized.

Here are some tips that have helped Leigh transition and find a healthy balance for staying in shape.

Leigh began this journey by taking leisurely strolls with her dogs, but now, she feels no matter what path life leads her down, she’ll be able to keep up.

“My husband and I were going on a trip my mom happened to be in the the same airport at the same time, but she had about five minutes before she had to get back on the plane and she was in the other terminal,” she said. “We wanted to see each other because I wasn’t gonna see her for a few months, so I just took off running in my little sweats and tennis shoes. My husband couldn’t believe it because he didn’t think that he would ever see the day that I would just take off running. It was great to meet that way. She was really happy to see me running down the terminal.”

For more inspiration, read about how this mom of three transforms herself into a triathlete.

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Breaking the Tape
A mom of three transforms herself into a triathlete. Read about her trials and tribulations at 21st Century Mom.

The New Pyramid Plan
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23 Ways About It
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Want to start walking but aren’t sure HOW? Here’s some hiking advice for the athletically challenged.