HMS counselor works out for mind and bodyMegan Blakeley has two faces. During the school day she is a bright and often smiling counselor at the Hudson Middle School. She takes on a different face most days after school as she goes through her rigorous daily workout at a nearby gym.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Megan Blakeley has two faces. During the school day she is a bright and often smiling counselor at the Hudson Middle School. She takes on a different face most days after school as she goes through her rigorous daily workout at a nearby gym.
Blakeley is a graduate of UW-River Falls and has a master’s degree in education and school counseling. She is in her third year as a counselor the HMS.
Blakeley, 27, said she was an average weight through high school and played sports, especially softball, her favorite. But when she got to college, she believes her metabolism slowed down as she concentrated more on her studies and had less time for physical activity.
“Putting on extra weight kind of snuck up on me but I didn’t obsess about it. I’ve always been kind of perfectionist so I never really felt good about the way I looked but I never had much luck losing weight either.”
But two years ago a friend won a three-month membership to the St. Croix Body Zone on Carmichael Road. The friend already belonged to a gym and offered the membership to Blakeley who saw it as a chance to make some changes.
She got started with some help from then Body Zone trainer Jill Anderson who helped Blakeley put together a regimen that included both cardio and weight training. She started with the elliptical machine but Anderson helped her diversify her training to include a wide variety of cardio activity.
As for her diet, she began by counting calories, consuming about 1,200 calories a day. She started losing weight. Between watching what she ate and adding additional cardio exercise to her workout, Blakeley saw the weight start to come off. In that first year, she lost 60 pounds.
For the last year, she has continued her workouts, usually exercising two hours a day, six days a week. She comsumes around 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day.
It sounds like a grueling routine but Blakeley says it has become a regular part of her day. “It’s a chore but I enjoy it. I have a sense of accomplishment when I’m done and I feel better when I’ve finished.”
She lives in River Falls and says she doesn’t have a “lot of down time” but makes her workouts a priority even if it does mean making an extra trip back to Hudson on the weekend.
Blakeley says the Body Zone has become an important part of her life. “At first I was a little intimidated but the place has a good atmosphere. It isn’t as big as some of the others and I like that it isn’t busting with people all the time. And the trainers and other people who go there have been great at motivating me.”
She also keeps a journal, recording what she eats and her workouts.
Blakeley said it was a good feeling when people started to notice the change in her appearance. “That helped motivate as well. It feels good when people say something and you feel better about yourself.”
Feeling good about yourself and self-esteem issues are something Blakeley is familiar with on a professional level as well. Body image with middle school-age students can be a big problem. “There’s a lot of pressure on girls to look a certain way, to look like the girls in magazines or on television. It takes all kinds of forms. Some girls refuse to eat in front of others or restrict their diets. It is kind of part of growing up but it can lead to some serious health issues in some cases.”
She has two recommendations when it comes to adolescents and the topic of weight and body image—talk and listen. “Open communication is very important whether it is about this topic or any other at that age. Parents sometimes have to force the issue but it is worth it. And keep an eye on those lunch accounts.”
Blakeley said she has now settled into a routine that she now calls her lifelong pattern. Along with regular exercise, she eats smaller meals more often during the day. It is a strategy that works for her. She also keeps an eye on her sugar intake, eats reduced fat food, healthy protein and lots of fresh vegetables. And she usually takes one day a week to eat whatever she wants.
She said that while her daily regimen may sound demanding, it works for her and regularly includes times playing softball, seeing friends and other activities she enjoys. And of course, she has all those friends at the Body Zone who are motivated by her.