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Middleborough woman on national weight-loss show

By Paul E. Kandarian
October 23, 2011

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MIDDLEBOROUGH WOMAN SLIMS DOWN ON TV: Losing weight is usually a pretty personal matter. But Lorna Brunelle, owner of the Burt Wood School of Performing Arts in Middleborough, is taking her battle of the bulge nationally.

Brunelle, 40, and three other women, including Farrah Lester, wife of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, are featured on “Wicked Fit,’’ a Boston-based series on The Style Network. It features Katie Boyd, owner of the Miss Fit Club in Wellesley, as she whips women into shape. The show starts tonight at 9 and runs for 10 weeks. Filming ended last week.

“The show follows former beauty queen Katie Boyd, who shatters the stereotype of the prim and proper pageant girl,’’ Brunelle said of Boyd, a Taunton native who was a former student of hers at Burt Wood. “Before, I was her mentor and teacher; now she’s mine. It’s cool to have those roles reversed.’’

The series was shot in and around Middleborough, Taunton, Boston, and other locations, according to Brunelle, whose problems with weight began in college when she developed health problems.

“I was always reed-thin in school, like 125 pounds, but then in college, I started gaining,’’ she said. “At first I was diagnosed with adrenal gland disorder, and years later, found out I had thyroid cancer.’’

She had her thyroid removed in 2005 and controlling weight became even more difficult, she said; she’d gained 85 pounds when her thyroid problems started and another 40 after it was removed.

Boyd’s weight-loss regime, in addition to exercise, includes eating regularly “whether you’re hungry or not, like every two or three hours, chicken, vegetables, egg whites. The idea is by stimulating your metabolism constantly, your body goes into calorie-burning mode instead of starvation, which makes you store fat,’’ Brunelle said, adding that Boyd’s style on the show “is hysterical - America will fall in love with her sense of humor, she’s a straight shooter and really funny.’’

The show is not like other reality programs in which people compete to lose weight and get booted if they fall short. This one follows the women’s progress, start to finish, Brunelle said.

The women have various goals, she said. Lester’s, for example, was to shed weight she gained after having a baby. Brunelle’s was to lose 40 pounds. She declined to say whether she has or not, allowing only that “you’ll have to tune in every week to see if I did.’’

Brunelle wrote a book about her cancer experience, “Dirty Bombshell: From Thyroid Cancer Back to Fabulous,’’ and said she wanted her weight-loss experience to inspire other cancer patients, many of whom gain weight after surgery and therapy.

“I wanted to prove they can do it, I’m trying my hardest to be a beacon of hope, I’m saying ‘Hey, watch me shrink on this show, - you can do it, too,’ ’’ she said.

During the first episode, the women are weighed, a moment that can be painful when the number is revealed for all the viewing world to see. On some weight-loss shows, contestants often cry, Brunelle said. When she saw her number, she broke out laughing, she said.

“I chose to laugh instead of cry. I figured I’d shed enough tears over cancer, I was not going to do it there over a few pounds.’’

BRIDGEWATER WOMAN A FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR: Rupita Chakraborty of Bridgewater, a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, received a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year, and will teach English at a private boarding school in Samarinda Seberang, Indonesia. She graduated from George Washington University this spring and said she hopes to attend law school, focusing on international or criminal law.

RESIDENTS INVOLVED WITH READ AND ROMP: “Read and Romp 2011’’ is Reach Out and Read’s 8th annual family event, to be held Nov. 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. Proceeds from the event benefit the Boston-based group, a national school-readiness organization. Planners for the event are Kirkie Hall, event cochairwoman, and Jodie Sheer, both of Westwood; Janice McCourt and Michelle Perron, both of Walpole; Alex Dubois of Hingham; Robin Puccio Horrigan of Canton; and Lisa Donovan of Milton, from the “Matty in the Morning Show’’ on Kiss 108 FM radio.

The event, which costs $50 per person in advance, or $60 at the door (children under 2 admitted free) includes 12 story-book-themed stations with children’s activities; gift bags for each child, buffet lunch with music by Stacey Peasley, and meeting writers such as Dedham’s Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of the Judy Moody book series.

For ticket information, visit

BUSINESS BRIEFS: John Vasconcellos of New Bedford was named southeast regional director of the Sharon-based The Trustees of Reservations, the nation’s oldest statewide land-conservation organization. In his new role, he oversees trustees’ field staff and properties in the group’s southeastern region, which includes the south coast, Cape Cod, and the islands. . . . Suzanne Gordon of Carver has joined Eastern Bank as an assistant vice president and branch manager of the bank’s West Plymouth office. She is a Plymouth native and her community involvement includes being a board member at the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Pinehills BNI group. . . . Richard F. Eisen, dermatologist and founding physician/director of South Shore Skin Center and Spa in Plymouth and Cohasset, was part of a recent mission to Trujillo, Peru, with the Lexington-based Global Smile Foundation, assisting in cleft lip and palate surgical procedures on 42 area children. The nonprofit Global Smiles Foundation partnered with EsSalud and Rotary Club of Trujillo to provide the services at Hospital Victor Lazarte Echegaray.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at