I cannot believe the end of this challenge is here. I want to first thank Family Circle for believing in our family and giving us this opportunity. What an amazing experience it has been and we are so blessed to have been a part of this journey.
Thank you to our family and friends who have supported us in this journey. Thank you to the people we don’t know who have been following us online and in the magazine.
Thank you to the wonderful people we got to work with and meet along the way. WOW what a pleasure to deal with you. Your knowledge and strength is priceless. Thank you to the vendors who gave us all of the tools to make healthy living and weight loss possible and fun. Thank you to the photographers, make up and hair artists who made us feel like movie stars and for becoming friends.
While this is the end of this journey this is not the end of my ride, of our ride. We have a legacy to leave. We have two beautiful kids who we need to continue to teach how it is vital to use food as a means to fully live. God’s word says I have come to give you life abundantly. I believe that to my core. This journey so far has not only changed me/us physically but spiritually as well. We are to honor the temple God gave to us so we can serve. Serve those in need and serve Him. I have learned in this process that I am a servant and my heart is to serve those in need.
Honoring your body and making sure you’re healthy in your life is the best gift you can give to yourself, your husband, wife, kids, family, friends, etc. As I’ve said before, all it takes is a little time and planning. Deliberate actions get deliberate results.
If you’re telling yourself “I don’t have time to work out” or “I can’t leave my kids, I’ll feel guilty.” I’m here to tell you as a wife, mom, and full-time employee you make the time. If you have shows that you DVR and you sit on the couch and watch them, you have time to work out. Rather than fast forward through the commercials use that time to do jumping jacks, run in place, if you have the room jump rope, next commercial break do push ups, squats, use your dining room chair and do some triceps dips, etc. All it takes is a little imagination and determination. Do like I did for a long time, use your lunch hour at work.
Right now I’m still working very hard with my personal trainer that Family Circle provided for me so I work out with him pretty much every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The kids are used to this routine and they love it when mom gets her workout because while I’m a hot sweaty ugly mess I’m happy, I’m energized, and I’m fully present for them. Because I work so hard on my 3 days with the trainer I take the other days off but I still am all of those things because I’m feeding my body well and getting proper rest.
So if you say “I can’t,” get that word out of your vocabulary. Let’s pretend that word isn’t even a part of our daily lives. Don’t say I can’t but say I’ll try. Trying is doing and doing is success. So if you try and you’re consistent in trying you will be successful!
Do create a diet democracy. Discuss—don’t declare—your intentions with your family. “Share your wellness goals, but ask them for ways to get there,” says Stephanie, the dietitian who worked with the Lehmans.
Don’t go overboard. “Slow modifications over time usually last longer than radical ones,” explains Elizabeth, the dietitian who worked with the Avaglianos.
Do find a fitness goal. “Explore local events where your family can participate as a team,” suggests Larry Soler, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America. Try a bikeathon, 5K, adventure race or hike.
With the help of nutritionists, personal trainers, a motivational coach and a sleep expert, our Healthy Family Challenge participants revamped their lifestyles. Both groups had ups—they won Epic home cardio machines—and downs—one family lost their Fitbit activity tracker in the washing machine…twice. But today the Avaglianos and the Lehmans look and feel like different people and are eager to share their insights to help transform you and your crew. Read on!
What the Avaglianos Accomplished
Peggy: lost 16 pounds
Peter: lost 9 pounds
Michael: lost 12 pounds
Amanda: lost 9 pounds
“We’d been talking about eating better and exercising for years, but always came up with excuses not to,” says Peter. Thanks to the motivating challenges, the Avaglianos have shed 46 pounds and made lasting changes. The perfect example: “The program helped our son prepare for his freshman year of college, where he’s eating on his own for the first time,” says Peter. “Just the other day, Michael told me that he grabs yogurt or an apple at the student center before class rather than skipping breakfast. He never would have done that without this experience.” Their DIY advice:
1. Go for the (specific) goals.
The kids needed to learn how to make smart food choices before heading off to college (check!). Peggy wanted to whittle her middle (guess who dropped three pants sizes?). And Peter, a diabetic who hates injecting his insulin, was determined to slim down so he could reduce his medication. “After six months, my average blood sugar levels went from 320 to 180, which is huge,” says Peter. “My endocrinologist was really impressed and said that if I lose a few more pounds, I’ll be able to cut back on insulin.”
2. Plan to move as one.
The New Jerseyans needed help finding physical activities they could enjoy together and entertainment that didn’t revolve around food. Now, at least once a week, they go on an hour-long post-dinner walk—a suggestion from their trainer Ann Erik at Tilton Fitness. “We’d tell the kids on Friday that we want to bike ride at the boardwalk Sunday morning,” explains Peggy, who suggests giving children advance warning.
3. Eat right on the go.
When the family embarked on a seven-day, 2,800-mile car trip to drop three of their children off at college, they didn’t succumb to fattening road-side fare. “We went online every night and found a list of food options for the next day available at every exit,” says Peter. “And rather than bring potato chips or M&M’s for snacks, we packed grapes and apples.”
4. Don’t quit on vacation.
Despite driving 10 hours a day during their road trip, Peggy and Peter found time to work out as trainer Ann Erik suggested. “In the morning, we’d head to the hotel’s fitness center to do cardio and free weights—again something that we never would have done before,” says Peter. “It also really helped my legs loosen up after all that driving!”
What the Lehmans Accomplished
Tiffany: lost 19 pounds
Andy: lost 19 pounds
Anna: lost 6 pounds
“Yo-yo dieting was the story of our lives,” says Tiffany, who was determined that her children avoid the weight loss struggles she and Andy experienced. “I could see Anna adopting some of our bad eating patterns and wanted to change that.” Soon enough their daughter was eagerly following their new habits and loving it. “Eating healthy every day is hard when there’s a lot of tempting junk food at school and on field trips,” says Anna. “But I have more energy when I make good choices. And I don’t feel gross like you do after eating a hamburger.” Most important, the Lehmans (who dropped 44 pounds) permanently overhauled their diet. “This is a lifestyle change—not temporary,” adds Tiffany. Their top tools:
1. Strike up some friendly competition.
“The smartest tip was from trainer Wesley Keith at Gold’s Gym. He told us the best way to make fitness a family thing was keeping it fun so that it doesn’t seem like work,” says Andy. “We learned to turn it into a game.” For instance, each family member used his or her Fitbit activity tracker to see who could log the most steps each day.
2. Create fat-free incentives.
One bad habit the Lehmans previously had was rewarding their kids with unhealthy fare like fast food or ice cream. But their dietitian Stephanie suggested they come up with other ways to acknowledge accomplishments. “Instead, we treat them to a family activity, like going to Sky Zone trampoline park or the playground,” says Tiffany. “We lead very busy lives, so having quality time with each other is actually a great reward for all of us.”
3. Catch your 40 winks.
“The most shocking weight loss advice I got was to sleep more,” says Tiffany, who learned this from Robert Oexman, D.C., director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Missouri. “I didn’t realize how much sleep is required to lose weight and how the quality and quantity can help me make wiser food choices. It also gives me energy to get through the day and kill it in the gym!”
4. Sweat together.
Both Andy and Tiffany began to fill their weekends with activities everyone could enjoy: playing outside, going to the park, running while the kids ride their bikes. “Before, Tiffany and I wouldn’t participate in these things. We’d just watch the kids have fun,” says Andy. Anna and Tiffany also followed a workout program designed by trainer Lass Lassiter of Gold’s Gym. “It got us both sweating and having a blast together,” says Tiffany.
What the Avaglianos and Lehmans won: We asked Reebok to reward both our families for the hard work they’ve done slimming down with new—and smaller—workout gear. How’s that for motivation to keep moving?
Tiffany often tells me that she had a stressful week. Sound familiar? It’s common for work and family obligations to overwhelm you some days or weeks, causing tension. But that’s no excuse to eat poorly or skip your workout! The Lehmans know this first-hand. The Healthy Family Challenge has taught them strategies to stay on course even during times of anxiety. Here are some tips I’ve shared with them which can help everyone.
- Stock the freezer. When you’re short on time and stress levels are high, you’ll be tempted to order take-out or head for the nearest restaurant, where you’ll likely eat far more than if you had eaten at home. Avoid that by having a freezer full of healthy frozen meals.
- Get a fitness buddy. Have someone in place to motivate you to keep working out, even when you have no interest in moving from the couch.
- Make a different diet friend. Find someone who is also trying to lose weight or make healthy changes and act as each other’s support person.
- Plan for special events. Holidays, birthdays, parties. It seems like we’re always surrounded with excuses to eat. Decide now what events are worth that extra splurge and which foods you most look forward to. Then say “no” to the rest. Love those holiday sweet potatoes? Enjoy them! Don’t really care about that cake at your office party? Skip it!
Think about any other things that would help you stay on track and then write them down, making your own personal plan for staying healthy. Stressful events often occur when you’re not expecting them. So have a plan in place now to help ensure you’ll continue your healthy habits when anxiety rears its ugly head.
Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.
1. Don’t skip breakfast.
Remember it gets your metabolism going and gives you energy; it also prevents you from overeating during the day.
2. Fill up on nutrient (not calorie) dense foods.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks and skip the crackers, candy and chips. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber so they help to keep you full longer.
3. Make time to work out.
Even a short session will help you burn calories.
4. Have it your way.
Prepare as many meals as you can from scratch—this way you’ll know what goes into your food.
5. Don’t skip the homemade dessert.
Do pass on all the other junk food that’s not worth the calories.
6. Control your plate.
Make 1/2 your plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate protein and 1/4 grains.
7. Avoid drinking your calories.
Save your calories for eating and chewing—they’re much more satisfying
8. Don’t let fun equal food.
Try not to make all of your social plans around eating and drinking alcohol.
9. Drink first.
Try drinking something instead of eating when you think you are hungry—remember you get the same cue for hunger that you do for thirst.
10. Give yourself a break.
A splurge one day it’s not the end of the world, just get back on track the next day.
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.