If you watch "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," you might know the face, if not the name, of Judy Molnar. Since late December, Molnar has been a regular presence in her new position as Chub Club coach.
After eight years at a St. Joseph, Mich., advertising company, Molnar has moved to Manhattan. Her career change came after her 150-pound weight loss caught the eye of O'Donnell's producers last fall. She was on her way to the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii.
Here was a woman who had lost 150 pounds "one doughnut at a time," as she is fond of saying. Here was a woman who didn't own a bicycle or a bathing suit until May 1996, when she set her sights on entering her first triathlon. Here was a regular woman who went from a size 26 to a size 14, but at 6-foot-1 still weighed about 200.
In her Chub Club position, Molnar is the coach for a yearlong effort to get viewers to "eat less and move more." O'Donnell created the club in early January to help herself and her viewers lead healthier lives as the millennium approaches. As of early this month, 105,000 Americans signed up.
"I just feel fortunate that Rosie saw me as a good motivational real-life person, doing normal things, aspiring for something better for their lifestyle," says Molnar, 33, from her cubicle at Rockefeller Center, where the show is produced.
"She's just very real and she doesn't look like a supermodel fitness girl," says O'Donnell. "She looked like one of my friends. She wasn't so overtly fit as to be intimidating."
O'Donnell -- who shares her weight (208 pounds) with viewers -- says she wants to get fit just like her viewers. "A lot of people come up to me in my never-ending discussion about health and weight and say, 'I'll train you,' " she says. "When Oprah was on the cover of Vogue, they said I could be on the cover of Vogue if I trained."
But O'Donnell wants a more realistic, permanent change.
"What I'm doing is just eating less and making better choices," says O'Donnell. "I'm not really a binge eater. I just eat crap throughout the day. Now, once a week, I'll have ice cream. It's not like I'm totally being a hard-line diet freak."
Molnar asks each Chub Club member to set as a goal completing a 5K run by May. To do that, she asked that each member try do some sort of aerobic exercise for 20 minutes, five days a week in January, increasing to 25 minutes this month, 30 in April and end with the 5K, which members can walk or run.
Molnar appears sporadically on the show, offering tips and sharing viewer mail. Chub Clubs across the country are profiled. Off the air, she answers questions on Rosie's Web site and calls five to 10 Chub Clubs each day to check on members' progress and offer encouragement. Molnar also works with O'Donnell's personal group, known as the Chubettes.
Molnar has a one-year commitment from the O'Donnell show. After that, she'd like to take her talent on the road, perhaps as a motivational speaker. She wants to get accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association to become a personal trainer, and she's working on a book, tentatively called "One Doughnut at a Time."
To join the club
More than 105,000 people across the country have joined Rosie O'Donnell's Chub Club. To join, form a team of at least four friends (including yourself), choose a captain and a name. Then send a postcard to Rosie's Chub Club, P.O. Box 9060, Bridgeport N.J. 08014.
Include your team name, the names and ages of each member, members' total weight, the date the team was weighed and the captain's address and phone number. Many teams will be featured on the O'Donnell show.
The Chub Club is on O'Donnell's Web site: www.rosieo.com -- or at American Online (keyword: Rosie).
Pub Date: 02/28/99