Martha Stewart Losing Weight in Prison

12/02/2004 at 01:00 PM EST

Martha Stewart Losing Weight in Prison
UPI Photo/Ezio Petersen/Landov
Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia is the opposite of a luxury resort, but just seven weeks after her arrival there, Martha Stewart looks more like a revitalized spa-goer than a prisoner at a federal lockup.

"It's just wild. She looks better than ever," a recent visitor tells PEOPLE.

Stewart, 63, has dropped 10 lbs. since starting her five-month sentence for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Says Jose Figueroa, a printer from Akron, Ohio, who makes regular visits to his girlfriend Vicki Losh: "That woman is skinny now compared to the pictures of her."

The skinny on Stewart's diet: Avoiding the lousy prison food. On Thanksgiving Day she skipped the turkey and the trimmings to be with her mother, younger sister Laura Plimpton, brother-in-law and niece in the crowded visiting room.

"It was a big relief for all of us to see Martha so healthy, well-adjusted and well-liked," says Plimpton, 49. "She looks relaxed and feels that the time is passing quickly."

Following her family's departure, according to Figueroa, Stewart made pasta with olive oil with inmate Lisa Guarino, 42, a Bostonian known in the prison as "Little Italy" who is serving a 40-month sentence on a cocaine-dealing charge.

Stewart's also taken to frequenting Alderson's workout facilities, which include a Stairmaster and free weights. She spent Thanksgiving evening there doing an abdominal workout and some yoga for an hour. She also gets plenty of exercise performing her assigned job of cleaning up the Alderson administrative offices five days a week.

"Cleaning is something she knows how to do and she knows how to do it very, very well," says a friend. "She doesn't dwell on it, she just does it."

Despite press reports to the contrary, her down-to-earth attitude seems to be helping Stewart make friends with other inmates. Stewart recently won major props from inmates after a popular corrections officer's sudden death.

"Martha made the wreaths for a little memorial service they had for him," Brooke McNeal of Asheville, N.C., who was visiting her mother, says of the decorations Stewart created from wildflowers, red maple leaves and grasses. "From everything my mother says, she's really nice."

For more on Martha Stewart in prison, see this week's issue of PEOPLE magazine.

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