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“Thinspired” to Succeed

Reporter Returns to UMD to Talk Weight Loss, New Book

By Alex Stoller

Mara Scale

Even before age 10, Mara Schiavocampo struggled with her size. Her Sunday morning cartoon binges were always interrupted by her Aunt Shirley’s dreaded weigh-ins.

Two decades later, Schiavocampo M.Jour. ’01 no longer sees the scale as the enemy. She returned to UMD on Feb. 25 as part of a tour for her new book, “THINspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds: My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance.” The New York-based ABC News correspondent chatted with students and faculty about her lifestyle changes.

“I just wanted to help people,” Schiavocampo said. “A lot of people were reaching out to me asking questions, and I wanted to provide as much information as I could to help them on their journey.”

After trying a variety of diets and detoxes, suffering from an eating disorder that landed her in a deep depression, taking dangerous weight-loss pills and still seeing 230 pounds when she stepped on the scale, she knew it was time for change.

Schiavocampo began her lifestyle change after graduating from Maryland. She dove into her journalism career at NBC News, where she covered Hurricane Sandy, the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Gulf oil spill, the Haitian earthquake and the 2008 presidential election. She has also reported for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” NPR and MSNBC’s “First Look.”

“Even the most confident person, you can put them in front of a camera and it just kind of strips you down,” said Schiavocampo. “That was tough. It takes a lot of getting used to. I don’t think anybody is comfortable right away.”Mara's Book

Newsrooms also provide tons of temptation, from greasy pizzas to cookies and cupcakes. After getting married and having her daughter, now 3, she decided to make drastic changes. Now her formula for healthier living is 70 percent food, 10 percent exercise, 10 percent planning and 10 percent sleep.

“The food is a huge component of it,” she said. At lunch with students last week, she skipped over the ravioli and pork on the menu and selected saffron rice and salmon—without the sugary glaze.

She has found exercise options that she enjoys, like SoulCycle and yoga, and actually went over one student’s schedule to help her find spare time for fitness.

Schiavocampo told them that planning her schedule is crucial. She wakes up early to go to the gym, and she leaves time to cook fresh, protein-filled meals. When the hard work pays off, Schiavocampo rewards herself by buying new workout clothes or browsing real estate online rather than eating.

“I think that that whole idea of willpower is what sets people up for failure,” she said. “We shouldn’t rely on willpower, but on smart planning that will support our goals. I appreciate how far I’ve come, but I always am striving for something new.”

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.