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Body Talk

by Korey Huyler | CS magazine | February 16, 2011

If you’ve been watching The Today Show lately, it’s hard to miss the fact that Al and Meredith seem to be shrinking right before our eyes. The person responsible for their new bods? Chicagoan Melissa Li, 34, the owner of PhysioLife Studios in River North, who also works with Whoopi Goldberg, ABC-7’s Sylvia Perez, The Mix’s Kathy Hart, The Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams and many other boldface names. We chat with the mom of three sons about running with the cool crowd—literally.

How did you get involved with Al and Meredith?

I convinced my dear friend Jon Harris to lose weight and get in shape. Jon’s dad died at 48 of heart disease and he was concerned about his health. After some convincing, Jon started the PhysioCleanse and Detoxification program. After two weeks and down 12 pounds, he told his friends Al and Meredith about the program. They signed up, were very successful, told their friends and the rest is history. In the end, Jon lost 43 pounds. 

Do you fly to New York a lot?

I have clients all over the country, and it’s critical that I’m always available for them. In addition to Skype-ing, daily e-mails and phone calls, I travel at least once a month.

I heard you ran the New York marathon with Al and Meredith.

It was a blast and so inspirational. Al has struggled with his weight his whole life and for him to run the marathon was just breathtaking. Meredith was amazing as well. Having survived an injury during training she persevered and made it happen. To be there with their families at the end was an experience I will never forget.

Were there paparazzi?

Yes, there were many, but we lost them. One guy was following us on his bike with a camera until he almost wiped out at mile 18 and that was the end of him.

Tell me about the concept of PhysioLife workouts.

With our PhysioSlow workout you can build lean muscle mass quickly and safely by working out only two times a week for 30 minutes. It involves a combination of extremely slow-speed, controlled movements, proper form and minimal repetitions with the goal to reach complete muscular fatigue within two minutes. 

Why does it work?

Your lean muscle mass determines the rate that your body burns calories for fuel. More muscle means faster burning of calories, even at rest.

The Benefits:

  • Greater muscle strength gains in a condensed period of time (more results, less time).
  • Shorter workouts save you time to focus on other important aspects of your life.
  • Slow and controlled movements minimize the force put on your joints, muscles and ligaments, making it safe and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Increased lean muscle mass increases metabolic rate, which increases calorie-burning.
  • Fat loss and muscle tone definition.
  • Strengthens bones and reduces chance of osteoporosis.
  • Improved circulation, blood sugar levels and better response to insulin, which improves blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.

So, you are really into detoxing?

I do love to detox and cleanse. We consume a lot of toxins every day in our food, water and other items that we think will make us feel better. But they don't. The accumulation of these toxins can create what I call a "Toxin Overload" in the body. Decreasing the consumption of these toxins while increasing the intake of fresh, wholesome foods, such as fish, poultry, organic veggies, fruits and supportive dietary supplements, allows us to experience increased energy, weight loss, decreased cravings (especially sugar) and allows us to feel better. In addition, it decreases the inflammation that creates serious issues for people, including heart disease, diabetes and other autoimmune conditions.

What is coming up for you in the new year?

There is a lot going on for 2011. In addition to helping my clients reach their goals, I am currently writing a book and planning to do another Ironman or two.

Where do you like to eat in Chicago?

One of the best things about Chicago is the cuisine. I love Carmine’s on Rush—the food and service are great. The manager Glenn Ventura and server Goldie always accommodate my dietary needs. They have the best grilled salmon and chicken in the city—hands down. They also have the best vegetables and will make them just the way you want them. Whether I'm cleansing my body or not, Carmine’s is perfect. Another great place to go when looking to indulge is The Southern—my friend Jim Lasky owns this amazing Southern-inspired spot. My favorites would be the mac ‘n’ cheese and the fried green tomatoes. Disclaimer: Not PhysioClean!

What do you do on a day off?

Well, with three kids and a husband, there really is never a day off. That said, one of my favorite things to do is go on a really long bike ride or run. To relax, I really enjoy the bar at Nomi at the Park Hyatt. Even though I am not a drinker, they serve the best San Pellegrino, with a lemon, of course.

Where do you shop?

I love to shop and have a few favorites. For athletic gear, I love the lululemon stores on Michigan, Halsted and Rush and Walton. In addition, I get a lot of my athletic clothes online at Athleta. They have great clothes and great deals. For all my bike and triathlon shopping needs, I love the guys at Element Multisport on North Clybourn Avenue. They have everything I need and more. For casual clothes, I go to BCBG or Cusp.

Photography by Maia Harms | Hair by Zack Pilewicz at Teddie Kossof Salon & Spa | Makeup by Ewa Moniek |