Challenge #2: Drink More Water: The Winners Are…

healthy family challenge

It’s a tie!

This month we peered into the Lehmans’ and Avaglianos’ cups, mugs and glasses. What we found was a health mistake your crew can probably relate to: Drinking sweetened beverages was expanding their waistlines. “So many drinks are loaded with sugar, which adds excess calories to your diet,” explains Elizabeth Fassberg, R.D., the Avaglianos’ nutritionist. Because liquid calories are much less satisfying than those from food, they can lead to overindulging. Avoid downing the wrong beverages—which may pack on pounds, trigger energy slumps and even increase your blood pressure—with these tips from the families.

The Lehmans’ Tips

At first glance, the Lehmans seem to sip right. Tiffany and Andy avoid soda and juice and whip up healthy smoothies at home rather than buying the pre-made kind, which can be high in calories and sugar. They’re also big water drinkers, gulping down one to two gallons a day as a family. But mom and dad were drinking major calories when it came to the beer, Merlot and Cabernet they paired with meals three or four times a weekend. Now they drink beer or wine just once a week. As a result, Tiffany’s blood pressure is back to normal and she’s lost 3 pounds. Here, their better beverage plan.

★ Portion control your cup. “Four big glasses of wine or three 20-ounce beers can add up to 800 calories,” explains Stephanie, the Lehmans’ nutritionist. Even one 8-ounce glass of wine can have the same calorie count as a 4-ounce rib-eye steak. Using Wine-Trax glasses helped the Lehmans pace themselves. “Once my mind was made up to do this, cutting back on the beer wasn’t difficult,” says Andy. “Plus, I had more energy, slept better and the weight came off easily.”

★ Know the impact. “We learned your liver stores fat cells from alcohol,” says Tiffany. “Since we want to slim down, that was a motivator.”

★ Mix your drinks. The Lehmans had a glass of water between each glass of wine or beer. “This gives your hand and mouth something to do and keeps you satisfied,” says Tiffany. Plus, it helps you cut back on the amount of alcohol consumed.

★ Make mocktails. The Lehmans treat their kids, Jack and Anna, to juice or soda once a week. But even that adds excess sugar and calories. Since Anna likes soda and lemonade, Tiffany prepared healthier versions with a SodaStream carbonated beverage maker. “Both our kids loved this,” says Tiffany. As for cocktails, check out the great nonalcoholic recipes here.


The Avaglianos

Before this month’s  challenge,  no one in the Avagliano clan was getting the recommended amount of water his or her body needed to function efficiently, feel satisfied and slim down. The New Jersey family was drinking a combined total of just four to six glasses a day. Peggy and Peter were dependent on rich coffee drinks, diet beverages and caffeinated tea. Amanda and Michael favored apple juice and sweet iced tea. But one month of thinking before drinking led Peter to drop 7 pounds, Peggy to lose 2 and Michael to shed 3. Here’s how they did it.

★ Know what’s in your cup. “Every workday morning for five years, I had a 16-ounce low-fat French vanilla cappuccino from a local convenience store,” says Peter. That was until he checked its nutritional information online and saw it had 250 calories, 56 grams of carbs, 37 grams of sugar and 2 grams of saturated fat—none of which is good for Peter’s type 2 diabetes. “I was shocked, especially because I thought it was healthy to order the low-fat option instead of the full-fat one. Now I realize that regular coffee is a better choice and haven’t had a French vanilla cappuccino since,” he says.

★ Make simple substitutions. Peggy was drinking 12 to 15 cups of black tea daily. Although she didn’t fill them with sugar and milk, they added up to a lot of caffeine. “Some caffeine is fine, but this was too much,” says Elizabeth, Peggy was also missing the greater cancer-fighting benefits offered by green teas and the potential weight-loss benefits from white tea. “I cut back by alternating tea with water and replacing at least one mug a day with green tea,” says Peggy, who pared down to six to eight cups. Peter, who spends a lot of time on the road for work, also started choosing water over diet soda, and that cut his cravings for snacks such as M&M’s and chips.

★ Sweeten up your water. Before the challenge, Michael drank one glass of water a day at most. But once the family followed Fassberg’s tips to liven up their H2O with things like lemon wedges, raspberries and strawberries, he (and the rest of the family) started toting water bottles everywhere. The result? He upped his water intake to a gallon a day.

What Both Families Won: Passes to Six Flags for the ultimate thrill rides, including a chance to splash around in water (instead of focusing on drinking it). The Avaglianos got a season pass to the Six Flags Great Adventure near them in Jackson, New Jersey. The Lehmans won a weekend hotel stay and day passes to Six Flags St. Louis.

How have you started drinking more water? Share your success in the comments below.