Success Stories

Change for Good

Changing bad habits to good can have a profound, lasting effect on your life. See how three women did it.

Change for Good
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The Exercise Change


Maggie Charendoff had always had a complicated relationship with exercise. A self-described "hard-core gym rat," Charendoff's attitude toward fitness was based on fear and anxiety. "Growing up, my mother, who is heavy, was constantly telling me that I was going to have to fight my body my whole life," she explains. "So all the exercise I ever did was based on the idea that if I didn't do it, I'd get fat. I felt like I was beating my body into submission," she says. The catalyst: In 2005, the mother of four separated from, and eventually divorced, her husband of 12 years and went back to work after spending ten years as an at-home mother. "I had to completely re-create my life," she says.

The shift: Her search for clarity led Charendoff to her current Vinyasa Flow yoga class, where she says her view of exercise, her body, and life in general was transformed. "I now know that my body is strong and powerful. And I practice yoga because I enjoy it. It gets me through whatever life throws at me."

The new life: Eventually, Charendoff allowed the classes and activities she didn't enjoy to fall away, and dropped out of an expensive Pilates program because it was too focused on perfection. She now walks her dog, cycles with friends, and takes interesting classes like trapeze, in addition to her yoga practice. "I only exercise in ways that are fun, that challenge me mentally and physically, and that make me feel good."

The results: Rarely gets sick and recovers from illness and injury much more quickly. Suffers fewer migraines. No longer carries extra belly, hip, or thigh weight. Experiences less stress and anxiety. "I react less out of habit or anger and frustration and am less likely to spiral into panic," she says.

The lesson learned: "Yoga helps me stay with situations that are difficult. At a retreat last spring, we did 108 sun salutations, all 25 of us, together. Now, whenever I face something difficult, I remember that class and realize I can do anything."