Fitness

Orthopedic surgeon stays disciplined via sweaty selfies

USA/

Sweaty selfies are the secret to Sheryl Handler-Matasar’s weight-loss success. Every time the 43-year-old completes a workout, she shares a messy-haired, out-of-breath photo with a private Facebook group. “It’s a little embarrassing, but it keeps me accountable,” she says.

In 2013, her size 10 jeans were getting uncomfortably snug. Despite her highly physical job as an orthopedic surgeon at Akron Children’s Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, Dr. Handler had gained three sizes in 10 years. “My arms were super-strong because I hammer bones back in place all day,” she says. “But my cardio was terrible and buying another wardrobe was not the solution,” she says.

As a mother of three children, ages 15, 11, and 9, Dr. Handler was already time-crunched. Marathon surgery days and a two-hour commute from her home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, didn’t leave much time for the gym. “There’s a 24 Hour Fitness up the road from my home, but who wants to drive to the gym at 9 p.m.?” she says.

When a friend posted on Facebook that she was a coach for the in-home fitness company Beachbody and was starting a workout group, Dr. Handler contacted her to learn more. The program required her to buy Beachbody workout DVDs that she could follow at home. She started with a four-routine program called Hip Hop Abs. “It was perfect for people who weren’t in the best of shape,” she says. Daily group posts kept her motivated.

Dr. Handler personally knew just two of the 25 women in her workout group. “There are women from Texas, Canada, New York City,” she says. “They are my support network. I’d get lazy without them, and when you admit you skipped a day and ate a brownie sundae, they make you remember tomorrow is another day.”

Dr. Handler shed 23 pounds in the first four months of the program and is now a size 4. “I had to buy a new wardrobe anyway,” she jokes.

The Workout

Dr. Handler prefers to do a 45-minute workout at 5:15 a.m. so she can be showered and ready to send her children to school by 7 a.m. If she has an early surgery, she will work out around 9 p.m. after putting her children to bed.

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