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Get H3 Inspired: Jeni Hayes and Cheryl Haze, A Mother/Daughter Journey

Cheryl Haze and Jeni Hayes

Jeni Hayes (Daughter), Charleston, SC

As an NCAA athlete in college and group fitness instructor afterward, I have always been blessed with the motivation and ability to exercise often and make healthy food choices.  I managed to maintain my weight throughout college and pharmacy school, but residency was a different story.  Stress eating is no joke… although I was still going to the gym 7 – 8 times each week, the pounds started to creep on and suddenly my clothes didn’t fit as well as they used to.

After finishing my 2-year residency, I had a few weeks before starting my new job.  When my mom, Cheryl, and I decided to take a trip together, I started looking for places that had two of my favorite activities – fitness and good food.  One of the places my mom found was Hilton Head Health (H3), and as I read more about their program on the website, the more intrigued I became.  Honestly, I couldn’t think of any better vacation than taking group fitness classes and having someone else cook for you while in a beautiful location.  Since my mom has been struggling with her weight over the last few years, it seemed like the perfect place.  I had 3 goals for my trip to H3: Get my mom inspired to lose weight again, spend some quality time with her, and to get myself back on track.

H3 went beyond my expectations – and they were pretty high!  The fitness classes were appropriate for athletic and fitness abilities of all types.  Even as an instructor myself, I have to admit that Jeff and Amy kicked my butt.  The food was excellent.  Each meal and snack had calorie amounts posted for all of the foods and suggested calorie intake for each meal.  I was definitely surprised about how well I ate and that I was never hungry, even on a 1200 calorie diet.  The lectures were all fantastic, and I gained insight into things like dealing with food cravings, planning your meals, and making smart (or unwise-better-best) choices when dining out.

I absolutely loved my visit to H3, from finding some fun new food and exercise options, to having some good mother-daughter bonding time.  Exactly one month after leaving, I am over 50% of the way to my goal weight.  Living in Charleston, H3 is only a 2-hour drive away.  I am already planning another 3-day weekend with some girlfriends in the spring!

What I, Jeni, learned (or re-learned) at H3:

-Having a support system of friends and family helps you stay motivated.  My mom and I share new recipes and workout music, while my husband is great at providing positive reinforcement and helping me celebrate small victories.

-Our relationship with food is often much more psychological and emotional than physical.  There are ways to include your favorite foods in your new lifestyle, whether it is by revising the recipe with healthier options or reducing the frequency and amount you indulge.  I was surprised to find out that my massive chocolate craving could be satisfied by one 35-calorie square of dark chocolate each day after lunch.

-“Eat sensibly, exercise sensibly, and then come to terms with your weight.”  I think this was the best advice I got during my stay at HHH.  You can look at this statement in 2 ways – if you have a specific weight in mind, you either need to eat fewer calories or exercise more – or both.  But if you are unwilling or unable to make any more changes to your eating and exercise routines, then you need to make peace with your body.


Cheryl Haze (Mother), Rose Valley, PA

I grew up with sweets; I consider myself a sugar-addict!  My mother was a dietician. I was so tired of hearing her say, “eat your protein!”  I guess part of my “rebellion” was not caring or focusing on eating healthy foods. I’ve also always been a snacker – you have to admit, it is easier to eat cheese and crackers than to fix a nutritious meal!

All that said, I have kept myself in pretty “good shape” most of my life.  Exercise has not presented a huge challenge to me – my husband & family are crazy about working out and physical activities. A few years ago, I found myself battling a thyroid condition simultaneously with foot surgery. I was unable to run or work-out easily; nor did I reduce portion sizes or my sugar intake. All of a sudden I found my clothes four sizes larger than before.

I was successful with another weight loss plan, but I realized maintenance was not a concept I had internalized. This is when I finally turned to H3. Jeni and I considered “spas” where we could swim, work out a bit, have a massage and fine dine. We began with an internet search of “spas,” which led us to H3. While at the “H3 Spa,” we did swim, we did work out a bit and we did fine dine; one thing we did not do, however, was arrange for a massage because Jeni and I were too pooped by the end of the day!

While the instructors at Hilton Head Health do push you, they are also there to help guide you and look after you. They will be the first ones to tell you if you are trying to do too much. I remember one instructor in particular, Louise, who was so calming but persistent. She often led strength fitness classes. Louise would tell us, “don’t push yourself too far; if it hurts, back off a bit.” 

The lectures were so helpful – Jeni and I did not stop writing notes.  Even now, I look at my notes almost every day home.  I carry around my daily planner to log mood, cravings, food consumption, exercise and daily/weekly success.  I dug out my old heart rate monitor – it still works! I use it to push myself a bit more than a comfortable pace in my aerobics activities.  I remembered Bob and Amber’s talks: resistance training is the BEST antidote to cope with the aging human body, so I’m working on becoming a stronger me.

I am not measuring myself by weight on the scale at all!  Instead, I’m focusing on tone, strength, overall health and lowering my heart-rate.  Success will be when I eat well; when I fit back into my sizes-smaller clothes; and when I routinely push myself just a bit harder/longer on my exercise routine.  I have already “lost” one-half size in my clothing… and I’m not going to try to “find” this lost half-size!

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