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When Thinspiration Strikes: 9 Women's Success Stories

Let these readers' aha moments of motivation psych you up to get fit.

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Christina Reale
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"I popped in a workout DVD."

"I took an exercise class, and when it ended, I missed it. So I bought a workout DVD and got my sister to join me. I became addicted. It was a way to bond with my sister, and I grew to love many different types of workouts. I've since branched out to also take Spinning classes, lift weights, kickbox, and practice yoga. Mixing up my workouts has kept exercising fun, and I plan to try new DVDs once my second baby is born."

-- Christina Reale, 27, Cumming, Georgia

Get a list of great DVD picks

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"The doctor told me I was obese."

"At five feet four inches and 214 pounds, I knew I was overweight, but when a health scare sent me to the ER, the doctor explained that I was obese and at high risk for a heart attack in my thirties. I enrolled in a nutrition class and took up belly dancing and Zumba, which make me feel graceful. I've lost 27 pounds and am almost out of the obese range."

-- Ruby Cortes, 23, Seaside, California

"Two of the best motivations to exercise are feeling competent and being the boss of your own life," says Philip M. Wilson, PhD, of the Behavioural Health Sciences Research Lab at Brock University in Canada. "If you do an activity because it stimulates you, you'll find a way to get past roadblocks."

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"OMG -- Shaq weighed less than me!"

"I was watching an NBA game in October 2008. I realized when they showed the players' stats that at five feet six inches tall, I weighed more than a seven-foot-tall male pro basketball player. I dove right into a healthy lifestyle. Two years later I've lost 170 pounds."

-- Tracie Camacho Seibold, 39, Beaverton, Oregon

Know your digits: Click here to find your body mass index; a score between 18.5 and 24.9 means you're within a healthy weight range.

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"My mom's diagnosis was a wake-up call."

"When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, I began reading a lot about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise in cancer prevention. It was then that I truly started to eat and exercise for my well-being rather than to maintain or lose weight. It's given me a new determination to keep up my workout routine."

-- Julie Bream, 25, Orlando, Florida

"You have to find your 'wantpower,' not just your willpower," says Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist at Stanford University. "Research shows that women who focus on big-picture benefits -- for example, improving your energy, happiness, or even your sex life -- exercise more and stick with it longer than women who turn exercise into just another 'should.'"

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"It ain't over until I say it's over!"

"My sister-in-law and I were talking about having a com­petition to see who could get in shape faster. I had just turned 40, and her husband said, 'No women ever get in shape after the age of 40; you should just give up.' I applied for a front-desk position at a women's gym the next week. I have become a certified trainer and teach several tough classes, including boot camp and extreme interval, that have earned me the nickname Kick-ass Peggy. I never told my brother-in-law what an impression his comment made on me."

-- Peggy McMahon, 47, Monroe, New York

"Set up mini challenges, like going to the gym for 30 minutes twice a week for a month. When you achieve that, hit yourself with another mini challenge by adding a day. These microchanges will lead to macrochanges," says Melissa Nickas, a personal trainer for the Sports Club/LA in San Francisco.

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"A chick flick made me do it."

"I was watching the movie Serendipity one lazy Sunday three years ago as I prepared to begin another fad diet the next day, when it suddenly hit me: I'm not living my life fully. And so I set out to do exactly that! First step: I abandoned yo-yo dieting for healthful eating. Second step: I found workout DVDs that I loved and stopped phoning in my usual gym session. I was so hooked that I became a wellness coach."

-- Jennifer Campoli, 30, Boston

"Rather than just relying on joining a gym to fulfill your exercise routine, put your ideal workout schedule on your calendar and treat it like you would important meetings," says Nicole Devlin, a life coach at the Sports Club/LA in San Francisco.

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"I wanted to be the Biggest Loser."

"When my gym held a challenge last March to see who could lose the most weight in 30 days, I took part in it with my husband [right] and a few friends. We encouraged and competed against one another during workouts, and we swapped meal ideas. I may not have won the challenge, but I lost five and a half pounds and 4 percent body fat, which spurred me to shed nearly 30 more pounds. I just signed up for another challenge to keep me on track."

-- Lisa Kappel, 40, Waldorf, Maryland

Fatten your wallet as you downsize: A study by University of Pennsylvania economists found that those offered financial rewards were more likely to reach their weight-loss goals. Go to and register for an incentive plan in which you can earn dollars for dropping pounds.

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"My shorts looked like clown pants on my friend."

"One day at the beach a friend of mine -- who had always been overweight and wore the same size jeans I did until losing 30 pounds -- needed to throw on a pair of shorts to run into the store. Because she forgot hers, I let her borrow mine; they actually fell off her. That's when I rejoined Weight Watchers and signed up for a boot camp class. I lost 15 pounds and built muscles I didn't even know I had."

-- Lauren Fuino, 23, St. Petersburg, Florida

"When you feel self-pity, wishing you were a smaller size, make up a positive mantra to counter it, like 'I am strong. I shine,'" says Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist in New York City.

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"I couldn't run for even five minutes."

"I scared myself fit after I became instantly winded my first time on a treadmill. How pathetic for someone who's 25! I joined a six-week challenge at my health club and was able to run for 15 minutes by the end. Then I did a 5K race, then a 10K and a half-marathon. Next up is a marathon."

-- Shawnda Roussey, 27, Jonesboro, Indiana

"Figure out what kind of exerciser you are: a competitor, an enthusiast, or an escapist," McGonigal says. For competitors, improvement is key, so set up a challenge with measurable goals. Enthusiasts should focus on fun, find exercises they love, or work out with buddies. For escapists, keep exercise barriers low; for example, do crunches in front of the TV.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2011.

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9/17/2011 03:05:52 AM Report Abuse

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