challenge 3

Tiffany, Week 13: Oh The Sweet Rewards!



The last challenge was all about moving it! As I’ve shared we are a very active family and we love to sweat. We won the challenge as a family and as a family we earned a $1000 gift card to!

With the challenges, daily life, busy work load, hectic schedules, this family could really use some relaxing spa time. So far Anna and I have indulged in pedicures and gel manicures. Andy and I also had wonderful massages.

It is so fun to be pampered and feel like a princess! I haven’t had a massage since before I had the kids. I used to get 2 massages a month and manicures twice a month BC–Before Children. Funny how things like kids turn off the indulgences in life. Still, next I think I’m due for a facial!

Next up we’re headed into a sleep challenge and I can’t wait to get started!

When was the last time you allowed yourself a trip to a spa or even the nail salon? Post a comment and tell me your favorite way to treat yourself.


Challenge Yourself: Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day

The Lehman family are the winners of Challenge # 3.

The third challenge for our Healthy Challenge families—the Lehmans and Avaglianos—was to get active and add more steps to their daily lives. Walking 10,000 steps a day can help you lose weight, lower your risk of diabetes and even give you more energy. With this goal, the Lehmans walked their way to victory by increasing their fitness regimen and doing fun family outdoor activities. Follow the Lehmans lead and sneak in exercise time for you and your family. Here, our expert trainers’ offer 8 tips on how to get your family moving and exercising:

1. Get everyone on board. “While the kids may be a little unwilling to make a change to their lifestyle, the example set by Mom and Dad can go a long way toward adjusting their mind-set (and sometimes vice versa),” says the Avagliano kids’ coach, TJ Loos, a certified personal trainer at Tilton Fitness in Galloway, New Jersey, who specializes in youth and senior fitness as well as sport-specific training. “Any process is easier when you have a support system.”

2. Go back to basics. “Do simple, traditional moves that use your own body weight,” suggests Tiffany’s coach, Lass Lassiter, a certified fitness trainer and former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who helps whip clients into shape at Gold’s Gym in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Try exercises like squats and push-ups at home and you’ll get an excellent sweat session.”

3. Make every errand count. “Park far from your destination so that you and the kids have to walk, and take the stairs instead of the elevator,” says Ann Erik, personal training director at Tilton Fitness in Galloway, New Jersey, who coached the Avagliano parents.

4. Do what you love. “Find activities that are fun for the whole family,” says Lassiter. “Maybe it’s dodgeball or kickball; maybe it’s hiking or bike rides. If everyone enjoys it, you’ll make time to add it to your schedule.”

5. Model behavior. “Kids look up to you,” explains Andy’s coach, Wesley Keith, a certified personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in West Des Moines, Iowa. “They’re going to see that Dad had a big objective, he set out to achieve it and he did it. This will teach and motivate them.”

6. Make a smart swap. “Skip dessert and instead go for an after-dinner family walk three to four times a week,” suggests Erik.

7. Set goals. “They help. Not only do they keep people and families focused on the mission, but they also provide a measuring stick for your progress,” says Loos.

8. Make the switch. “If you hit a plateau, think FITT and change one of these things: the frequency, intensity, type or time of your routine,” suggests Keith.


3 Items to Get You Moving

If you need more motivation, here are 3 things that helped our Healthy Challenge families sweat it out this month:

Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Tracker does more than count your steps, calories and distance. It also has a sleep tracker, stair counter and stopwatch, plus it wirelessly uploads your info to the Fitbit site, where you can compare your stepping with other users’. Seeing how the competition was doing on was great motivation for our families.

What gets you moving better than a brand new pair of kicks? The kids and adults in our families sent in their shoe sizes and got to lace up the most popular running styles of Asics sneakers, all of which offered gel cushioning, support and stability., a site where you can find and register for races such as 5K and 10K walks and runs, team sports and recreational activities, invited our families to participate in an event for free. The site also lets you connect with others who share your fitness interests and start an online training program to prep for an event.

How do you get your family to exercise? What activities work for your family? Share in the comments below!

Challenge #3: Walk 10,000 Steps Every Day: The Winners Are…


The Lehmans!

Eating right? Check. Drinking enough water? Got it. Moving more? That was this month’s task for the Lehmans and the Avaglianos, our Healthy Challenge families. We urged them to get off the couch and get active. To do so, they used Fitbit activity trackers to count their daily steps, met with personal trainers and committed to breaking a sweat more often, whether they were shaking their hips in Zumba, mowing the lawn or swapping dessert for an after-dinner walk. Only one family walked away with a prize this month, but both reaped the benefits of putting one foot in front of the other and hitting the gym. Read on to learn how they worked it out.

How the Lehmans Won

Before this month’s challenge, Tiffany exercised four times a week by running, pedaling on a stationary bike, weight training, and taking kickboxing, circuit and boot camp classes. But her trainer elevated her sessions to the next level by having her push a weighted milk crate across the floor or do a continuous treadmill push (that’s where you unplug the treadmill and use your own body weight to move the belt in 30-second intervals). “This builds muscle and gets her heart rate up,” says her Gold’s Gym trainer, Lass Lassiter.

Andy thought he was getting enough cardio because his job as a building engineer requires a lot of walking. He averaged the most daily steps of all participants, with 13,362. “But your body gets used to the same activity day after day and eventually doesn’t have to put in as much effort to burn calories,” says Andy’s trainer, Wesley Keith of Gold’s Gym, who showed him cardio and strength moves that would help build muscle and trim fat.

Anna, 10, and Jack, 6, are too young for the gym but logged about 10,240 and 11,680 steps a day, respectively. Their parents’ trainers suggested the family play kickball and dodgeball and do simple calisthenics (like jumping jacks and squats) in the park. All that sweating paid off. “I’m wearing shorts I haven’t been able to wear in three years!” says Andy. Here, the advice that helped these winners take all.

Their Top Tips

★ Become unstoppable. Tiffany’s trainer taught her that it’s important to live a physical life and to look for exercise opportunities everywhere—even things like laundry and cleaning count as mini workouts. “I actually wanted to mow the lawn so that I could burn more calories and get more steps in,” says Tiffany. “One Saturday I ran in the morning and mowed in the early evening and I loved it!”

★ Focus on form. You may exercise often, but without proper technique you increase your risk of injury and won’t reap the desired results. “Good technique leads to strength, which leads to more muscle and less fat,” says Lassiter. To focus on quality, Tiffany cut back on quantity, doing just five sets of five reps of each exercise. “Before, I wasn’t feeling the impact, but since being shown the correct form I feel it and am seeing results,” says Tiffany. “For example, I’m getting some nice biceps!”

★ Make fitness family fun. “Kids don’t even have to know they’re exercising. Just get them outside and play,” says Keith. Tiffany and Andy heeded this advice but went beyond a simple stroll to the same-old playground. “We took the kids to a trampoline park called Sky Zone. Talk about fun and a workout!” says Tiffany.

What They Won: The Lehmans averaged 11,783 steps per day each. After all that walking, we thought they deserved a little relaxation. So sent them a $1,000 gift certificate.


How Did the Avaglianos Do?

Physical activity wasn’t high on the Avaglianos’ priority list before the challenge. Walking their dogs and cleaning their pool were about all the exercise that parents Peggy and Peter got. For their teens, Amanda and Michael, it was daily gym class at school and marching band three times per week. “When the choice was flopping down and watching TV or exercising, we’d always choose TV,” Peggy said. While that all changed, the transition was a process.

First, we teamed up the family with trainers at Tilton Fitness. Then we asked them to slip on their Fitbit trackers to see how active they were. Peggy and Peter both walked more than before—often hitting their goal of 10,000 steps a day. Mom and Dad also headed to the gym for spin classes, weight training and exercise on cardio machines four times a week.

In addition to racking up steps and stairs climbed on their activity trackers, Amanda fell in love with BodyPump, a weight-lifting class set to music, and Zumba, and Michael liked his sessions with their trainer, TJ Loos. “Being an older brother, I know the power of sibling rivalry,” says Loos. “Michael and Amanda tried to support each other, but they were also motivated to outperform each other.” Today the whole family has more energy, so they flop on the couch for TV time about twice per week rather than daily—a new habit that has reaped results. “Since we started the challenge, I went down one pants size and Pete says his pants fit better,” says Peggy, who got in about 7,000 steps per day.

Their Top Tips

★ Make it a contest. Although Peggy found it hard to squeeze additional steps into her busy workday, counting them did motivate her. “The Fitbit was a little reminder to move more and outdo myself,” she says. Peter and the kids competed against one another, comparing their daily steps at dinner each night. “We even got Fitbits for our two daughters who are away at school [and not part of this challenge], and created a family group on the Fitbit website so that we could see how we were doing compared to one another,” says Peter.

★ Find your perfect gym fit. For the first time ever, the Avaglianos joined a gym as a family—and they made sure it was the right one for them. “We know so many people at Tilton Fitness, which is a plus,” says Peggy, who likes the social aspect of the place. Adds her trainer, Ann Erik, “I believe this is helping them stay motivated and makes them feel like they belong.” The right facility combined with encouragement from their trainers has made gym time something the Avaglianos enjoy rather than a chore they dread.

★ Just do something. Erik suggested that the Avaglianos take a walk after dinner three to four nights a week. “We can’t do this as much as we would like, but the suggestion made us more conscious of trying to do things as a family,” says Peter, who averaged more than 8,000 steps per day. For example, Peggy and Michael go on bike rides together, and all four try to spend weekend afternoons strolling through a neighboring town or on the boardwalk. “Finding fun activities makes the lifestyle change more likely to stick,” says Loos.

How have you gotten moving? What are you doing to be more active in your daily live. Share your success in the comments below.

Tiffany, Week 12: The Trouble With Kids and Exercise Technology


photo via

One thing I have learned during this challenge is that Fitbits and kids don’t really mix so well. Family Circle sent us four Fitbits at the start of the challenge. With in a week, Jack’s got accidentally washed in the laundry. I thought it might keep ticking, but that wash cycle was jut too much for it. There’s even a warning in the box that gives you a heads up not to leave it clipped to clothes when you do the wash. Anyway, the company was nice enough to send us another one for him, but then about a week later we thought we lost Anna’s Fitbit.

I had to report it missing and they sent us out another one. But within a couple of days of my reporting it missing we found it. Two weeks went by and Anna truly lost her Fitbit. So we use the spare they sent us before. Then that weekend Jack’s got washed AGAIN. (I know, I know). So Fitbit sent us another one so we could keep up with the challenge. Then I was doing some cleaning around the house, my Fitbit got caught on the couch and broke. Plus one. I just want to thank you Family Circle and Fitbit for being so gracious to us and patient with our ever-loving drama. The kids really don’t wear theirs anymore, but Andy and I do and will until I break this one and buy another! I’ll always wear my Fitbit!

Have you ever tried getting your kids to wear pedometers? Post a comment and let me know.

Do You Need Sport-Specific Food?

Almond Butter Celery

There are lots of bars, beverages and sports chews on the market—but do you really need to spend the extra money and extra calories? Seems like these specialty items will make you faster, fitter and stronger but for the average person working out for 30 minutes to 1 hour you probably don’t need any of them!

It’s important to make your calories count so eating real food is best when you are not competing or out on ultra-long workouts. Think nutrient-dense vs. calorie-dense foods unless of course you are competing and need quick bursts of energy. Nutrient-dense foods have more than just calories—they have naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, nut butters, beans, lean protein and low-fat dairy are all good for your body.

Hydrate with calorie-free water and a spritz of lemon for some flavor. Don’t waste calories on sweetened beverages that make false promises unless you have factored it into your calories for the day or you’re late to a workout and have not fueled properly. (They can sometimes give you the boost you need to get you through the routine.)

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.