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Mary J. Blige Resolves to Be Healthy

The R&B and hip-hop soul sensation reveals the inspiring fitness, food, and anger-management lessons that are driving her on a powerful journey of personal and professional transformation.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Mary J. Blige, the six-time Grammy Award-winning superstar, glides down the massive stone staircase of her Hollywood Hills home to the lower-level gym, where her trainer awaits. Looking toned in black track pants, white tank top, and black sweatshirt, Blige has wrapped a bandana around her head and is makeup-free -- a departure for this diva known for her glamour-girl styling and stilettos.

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul is ready to sweat. Truth be told, she’s more than ready  -- she’s driven. She is preparing to hit the road to promote her eighth album, Growing Pains, and the schedule ahead is grueling: three concert stops in South Africa, five in Japan, one in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles, plus an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Blige invited WebMD to join her for a vigorous one-hour body tune-up in the home gym of her modern manse perched high on Mulholland Drive. The house is airy and uncluttered and offers breathtaking views at every turn. But on this day, she is focused on only her music and her workout.

During and after the session, Blige, 37, confides the backstory of her new CD -- how decades of pain and disappointment have given way to a stepped-up self-image, improved lifestyle habits, better relationships, and more joy in every part of her life. She’s still struggling in some areas, she admits, and she elaborates with an endearing openness and honesty.

Mary J. Makes Fitness a Priority

One of the secret weapons in her ongoing "overhaul" campaign is Gregg Miele, an A-list New York City personal trainer flown in to whip Blige into concert shape. He's upbeat and optimistic, offering a steady dose of goals and encouragement during the workout. He’s given Blige, along with all his other high-profile clients, his trademark black wristband with “self-discipline” printed in simple white type. Looking at it can provide motivation for healthy living, he says. “It’s a reminder for the other 23 hours I’m not with them to make healthy, conscious decisions throughout their day -- a constant reminder that food does not just jump into your mouth!”

Miele makes such axioms a signature of his program. They are designed to goad his clients into the best shape of their lives, including one on his web site declaring: “The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”

Today, a one-hour workout is on the schedule. Miele kicks things off by asking Blige to take a brief walk on the treadmill. “A gentle warm-up peps you up mentally and physically,” he reminds her. His workout philosophy is goal-oriented and practical. The home gym is tightly edited: the treadmill, free weights and benches, resistance bands, mats for floor exercises, and a stair-stepper machine.

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