“My stay at H3 was exactly what the doctor ordered.”

I think I truly underestimated what stress can do to one’s mind and body. For the past two years, I was living in what I called “a perfect storm” – the combination of working full time in a senior leadership role at a global public relations firm, raising a pre-schooler with special challenges and heading into my late 40s with hormones dancing in all directions.

In February, I hit bottom. I found myself 35 pounds heavier than my usual adult weight and it was having a serious impact on my ability to function day to day and also manage my chronic health issues.  

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t make change stick. That’s when I realized I needed to get away. I needed to be able to wake up each day and make my health my priority.

Once I made up my mind, I got to work researching the possibilities and that’s when I found H3.

For me, it was a big decision. If I was going to take precious time away from my family and my work, I needed to make sure that this would be the right place for me. I scoured the website, talked to Michelle and other H3 consultants and even connected with some folks who had just returned from the program. And as they all raved about the program and the people, I kept thinking, “this just can’t be as good as they say.” But everyone was right. This was among the best experiences of my life and the greatest gift I have ever given to myself.

At H3, I met the most wonderful people – from the front desk concierges, to the administrative staff, to the fitness instructors to the professional lecturers. It was like being at camp – where everyone was rooting for everyone’s success. And the wonderful friendships I made have continued weeks after our last “Metabo Meal” together. In fact, I have reunited with several folks in person and every day I get messages from my H3 friends online. It’s been great to have this new support network, especially now that I’m back to my real life – juggling job, family and the ever growing list of daily “to do’s” that can zap you of the time and energy that you need to take care of yourself.

My stay at H3 was exactly what the doctor ordered. I loved the balance between learning lectures, great culinary experiences and a really motivating exercise program.

I thought I knew a lot about nutrition before I got to H3 but the hands-on cooking classes and demos helped me rethink how I should be eating. It was such a treat to be able to watch and learn as Chefs Jen and Marvis taught me how to make simple, low-calorie and delicious meals at home — and then shared their recipes and techniques in handouts (and on the H3Daily blog).

And the food served at H3 was beyond amazing – on 1200 calories a day I was never hungry – or bored with the menu. The eating experience was a real wake up call for me. I realized that you can actually prepare interesting, satisfying meals for 300-350 calories.

But I have to say, the real highlight was the exercise experience.  

The fitness staff was fabulous – inspirational, fun and very good at what they do. And, the variety of fitness options were great – from indoor cardio and strength classes to sun-filled water aerobics sessions. There was something for everyone and based on your personal fitness level, you could tailor classes to be more challenging or less challenging.

It was so motivating to see my body get stronger and more toned week after week. And it was really fun to try new things like cardio boxing, beach yoga and hydro circuit. I even mastered my own version of “extreme biking” on my one-gear beach cruiser. I don’t get to ride a bike much in Manhattan so for me it was just a real joy to bike around the island – especially, early in the morning down by the beach. In fact, on my last day, I completed a 17-mile bike ride as if it were just another spin around the parking lot – a far cry from my first day’s bike ride when I thought 6 miles would kill me.

Throughout my stay, I had more energy and “balance” than I have had since I got married and started a family. I lost 10 pounds (and lots of inches) during my three-week stay, and I lost a few more when I returned. I’m down 20 pounds since February. I still have about 15- 20 pounds to go but I now have the tools and support to help me succeed.

But truth be told, coming back to the real world has proven much more challenging that I thought. There are days that are better than others. But now I’m much more realistic about my weight loss expectations and I’m kinder to myself when “life gets in the way.” I keep hearing Bob’s words, “It’s 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent exercise.” But even when I don’t succeed on the 80 percent that’s about the food, I am making my workouts more efficient thanks to the personalized plan my trainer, Jeff Ford, developed for me. I’m able to maintain my current weight and I’m confident that I will achieve my ultimate weight loss goal. In fact, I’m hoping to get started with H3@Home Coaching to continue to get that extra support that I know will make the difference.

Hopefully, I will be able to come back to H3 at least once a year, if not sooner!