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Absolutely Fabulous

by Missy Sheehan & photos by Turner Photography Studio

Two separate programs developed by women in Hagerstown look to get their clients feeling and looking their very best.

Heidi Bodenheimer, manager of Fit in Boonsboro, and local photographer Meghan Shupe have something in common. Both women are on a mission to help people look and feel their most fabulous.

Heidi, who is a weight-loss and wellness coach with more than 17 years of experience in the fitness industry, created a weight-loss program called Feeling Fabulous in early 2015. Since then, she’s helped nearly two dozen men and women reach their health and fitness goals and drastically improve their lives.

Meghan specializes in lifestyle photography and earlier this year began offering Fabulous You mini photography sessions. She describes them as personalized editorial photo shoots designed to empower women of all ages to showcase the best versions of themselves. “As a woman it’s amazing to take time out for yourself and just let yourself feel wonderful,” she says. “Because we’re all fabulous. It’s just a matter of what fabulous looks like for you.”

While Heidi and Meghan’s services are connected only by the similarities in their names — they are not affiliated in any way — they’re both guided by principles including confidence, self-acceptance, empowerment and, of course, feeling fabulous. “At the end of the day, whether you want to lose five pounds or 105 pounds, what do we all want? We all want to feel fabulous,” Heidi says. “That’s what it’s all about — feeling fabulous and happy.”

Encouraging A Breakthrough

Heidi Bodenheimer health coaches Kristin Bowl at Fit In Boonsboro.

Heidi’s Feeling Fabulous program doesn’t involve any “eat this, not that” diet trends or point-tracking systems. “It’s really, truly a lifestyle change, and I know that sounds kind of trite,” she says, “but it’s looking at how we can take you from doing things because ‘I have to’ to ‘I want to because I love my body and because it makes me feel good.’”

Heidi uses a mind-body approach to weight loss that encourages people to change their eating behavior by developing a more positive relationship with food. She also teaches them to focus on overall health and wellness rather than the numbers on the scale. “It’s more about getting stronger and healthier,” she says. “The weight loss is a by-product.”

While Heidi tailors her Feeling Fabulous program to suit each of her clients, everyone begins the program with a free 30-minute coaching session. “I call this the body breakthrough session — it’s where I assess what’s going on with someone and their level of readiness,” she explains. “Some people will come in, and we’ll talk, they’ll think about it, and then they might be ready six months down the road. Other people are ready for the change, and they’re ready for action now.”

Once Heidi has determined that a client is ready to begin Feeling Fabulous, she helps him or her set SMART (small, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals. “Then we break down those goals and see how are we going to accomplish them,” she says. “It is a very loving, kind process. There are no restrictions. There’s no ‘I can’t have this’ or ‘I’ve got to do this.’ It’s being curious with who you are, and where you are with your relationship with health and wellness.”

Heidi holds clients accountable for meeting their goals through regular check-in meetings and emails throughout the program, which varies in length depending on a client’s needs. Client goals typically include both diet and exercise components. “The healthier the food we eat, the better we’re going to feel in our bodies, and the more we move, the better we feel,” Heidi says.

Eating more vegetables is one of the goals that Heidi and 60-year-old Knoxville resident Judy Howell agreed on when Judy began the program in the spring of 2015. “I’m really, really bad about eating vegetables,” Judy admits. “I try to eat at least one per day, and if I eat two, I get a reward at the end of the week, like an ice cream cone or something. Heidi recommends three servings of vegetables a day, but we’re working up to that.” Judy says Heidi has encouraged her to make weight training another one of her goals.

For 64-year-old Boonsboro resident Ethna Hauenstein, completing the Feeling Fabulous program was the start of a new way of life. “I haven’t lost all the weight I need to lose, but I’ve lost over 25 pounds,” she says. “And I haven’t felt like one moment of the program was something I couldn’t do the rest of my life.”

Ethna says of the most useful skills she learned from Heidi was how to be more mindful of her eating habits. “Heidi didn’t tell me that I couldn’t

eat anything,” she says. “She was more into making me paying attention to what I was eating, and if I wanted a piece of pie, then that was fine, but I had to pay attention to the fact that I was eating that piece of pie and not just feel guilty after I ate it.” Even though she’s finished her program, Ethna says she’s continuing to set and meet new health and fitness goals.

“I know I still have a lot of weight to lose, but it’s a journey,” she says.

Showcasing Women At Their Best

Like Heidi, Meghan is encouraging people — specifically women — to feel good about themselves. She began offering her Fabulous You photography sessions to showcase women of all ages, shapes, and sizes at the height of their fabulousness. Meghan serves as photographer and stylist, helping her clients decide on a theme and finding the outfits and accessories they need for up to two different looks prior to their 25-minute photo shoot. “If you say you want to do this, the first thing I’m going to ask you is what makes you feel fabulous,” she says. “I want to find out what you feel passionate about and give you that experience.”

As part of each session, participants get their hair and makeup done on location by Meghan’s team of beauty professionals, which includes Tara Yost and Chriss Bittle, the owners of Grass Roots Hair Salon in Hagerstown, as well as stylists Miranda Embly and Stephanie Munday, and independent makeup artist Victoria Rohrer. Meghan and her team aim to make each woman look and feel amazing. “Think about when you go to the hair salon and you just feel fantastic when you walk out, and everyone is telling you how great you look,” Meghan says. “That’s what we’re going for.”

Meghan holds her Fabulous You sessions at locations around the area. Past venues include the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the Grand Piano Ballroom, Bulls & Bears, and Fountain Head Country Club.

While she aims to make her clients feel as comfortable as possible during their sessions, Meghan says she also encourages them not to be afraid to try something new. “The cool thing for me was that it was a step out of my comfort zone, because I go to work, and then I go home. I don’t like to go out that often,” says 52-year-old Hagerstown resident Saundra Ferguson, who’s an independent agent for the Mason Dixon Insurance Group Inc.

One of Saundra’s looks for her Fabulous You shoot featured a full-length black-and-white polka dot skirt with a matching top and a big, Kentucky Derby-style hat. For her second look, Meghan encouraged her to embrace her inner hippie with big hair, a black tunic top, bright lipstick, and big round sunglasses.

“Meghan has a way of making you feel really good about yourself and really comfortable,” Saundra says.

“I think that every woman should at least try the experience once.”

Meghan says 42-year-old Chewsville resident Michele Dumois wanted to have her “Pretty Woman” moment. “So we got her a red dress and put her hair up, and she loved every minute of it,” Meghan says. In fact, Michele wore two different red dresses — the first sleek and strapless and the second covered with sequins.

According to Michele, one of the best parts about her session was getting the chance to see herself in a different light. “You just get into mom mode, you know, and you might just put on your sweats for the day because you’re focused on your kids all the time,” says Michele, who is an independent psychotherapist at Prospect Cottage in Hagerstown.

“I think for new moms, or women who are not used to dressing up, that it just gives you an opportunity to be feminine for a day. It’s a reminder that no matter where you are in life, you can feel good about yourself.”

Fabulous You is a day-long event for Meghan and her team, which also includes event planner Christina Carbone and Debbie Cunningham, who is the photographer’s assistant. They schedule the sessions so that there are never more than two or three participants on location at a time — though Meghan says sometimes women end up hanging around after their shoots to see what others are doing and to offer their compliments.

A sense of community develops among the women involved in each round of Fabulous You sessions, according to Meghan. “Imagine being around ten women of various backgrounds who don’t know each other but who are there to support each other,” she says. “It feels amazing and empowering to be able to create this experience for women.”

Find Your Fabulous

Let’s Get Fabulous Fabulous You PHOTO:ography by Meghan J. Shupe www.meghanjshupe.com 240.481.7159 Upcoming Fabulous You session dates include Sept. 11, Oct. 9, and Nov. 13. Cost is $350 per session. Feeling Fabulous Fit in Boonsboro www.fitinboonsboro.com 301.432.5206 Contact Heidi Bodenheimer to schedule your free 30-minute coaching session.