Challenge Yourself: Get Fit!


For Challenge #5, the Lehmans andAvaglianos were challenged to hit a number of fitness goals. Both teams did such a great job that they were all declared winners! If you’re looking to continue your get-healthy journey and follow our families’ leads, read on for expert tips:

Foolproof Motivators 
Never miss another workout again, thanks to these inspiring tips from Tanya Jolliffe, healthy eating expert and community moderator for

1. Forget the Scale. Judge your progress by creating fitness mini-goals: holding a plank for a minute, doing 10 boy-style push-ups, running a mile in 10 minutes. “It puts a purpose behind your routine that energizes,” says Jolliffe.

2. Make It a Date Night. Ditch dinner and drinks with your hubby for an evening of dancing or an afternoon of hiking.

3. Do It First Thing. Checking a workout off your list in the morning could improve your mood, make you more productive at work, inspire you to eat healthier and help you sleep better.

4. Find a Cause. Walk a 5K for an MS charity or do a bikeathon to raise money for cancer research. It’ll strengthen your commitment to exercise, says Jolliffe.

Eat to Win
Reaping results from your fitness regime requires paying close attention to your hand-to-mouth action.

Hold back on extra helpings. “A lot of people believe they can eat more if they exercise,” says Elizabeth Fassberg, the Avaglianos’ nutritionist. “But exercise is not a free pass to overindulge at meals.”

Practice portion control. “Vacations and holidays don’t mean you have to put on weight. I told the Avaglianos they could taste everything while they were in Italy–just don’t finish it,” says Elizabeth. And if you have one big meal, make sure your others incorporate extra fruits and vegetables.”

Pump up the protein. “I encouraged the Lehmans to include protein, such as lean meats, dairy and beans, in all meals and snacks,” says Stephanie Karpinske, the Lehmans’ nutritionist. It helps repair the body, especially muscle tissue, after intense workouts. “Protein also helps fight hunger, may reduce carb cravings and has fewer calories than fat,” explains Stephanie.

How do you stay motivated? Share your tips in the comments below.

Peggy, Week 20: We Won A Treadmill!

Avagliano familyWhen our trainer set our goals for the gym challenge, I believed she had Bruce Lee’s philosophy in mind, “ A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often simply serves as something to aim at.”

We came back from Italy, and expected to be far worse off in the gym than we were when we left, but, to our surprise, the walking we did paid off. It was still a stretch to achieve each of our goals, but we managed to pull them off.

The gym challenge is over, and both families achieved their goals. The journey has been a struggle, but hitting our goals does have its rewards. Peter’s A1C, a test which measures how well he is doing with his diabetes, has significantly improved. Amanda is stronger and more confident. Michael is faster. We are all thinking before we eat.

Of-course, we also have the opportunity to win prizes! This time both families won. This month’s sponsor is Epic they let us choose a piece of fitness equipment. We’ll be getting the treadmill in this photo. Not bad, huh?

My entire family has been using the treadmill at the gym, so we thought this would get the most use at home. We’re looking forward to using the iFIT function. This automatically tracks how we are doing and is sort-of a virtual trainer to keep us on track with our goals even after the 6-month challenge is over!

Post a comment below and tell me about a fitness goal you’ve set for yourself! 

Tiffany, Week 20: We Won!

the lehmans

So with challenge #5 our goals were set by our trainers. Meet your goals, beat the others and get a prize. Andy and I were certain that we lost this challenge because we’ve had a lot of life happen recently. Having a special needs child and doing everything else that life demands can at times be taxing. At the time this challenge took place we were going through one of the most taxing times in our parenting life to date.

The A-team (yes that’s what I call the Avagliano family. I think they’re pretty rad) and the Lehmans did so well that we both got to choose our prize for challenge #5. We got to choose between the Epic Treadmill, Epic Elliptical, or the Epic Bike. Andy and I chose the elliptical.

Funny story about me and the elliptical. When I first decided way back in the day (oh maybe 5 years ago) that I needed to work out, the first piece of equipment I jumped on was the elliptical. I remember the first time like it was yesterday. I think within the first minute I was sweating so profusely and probably swearing. It was all I could do to last five minutes on that thing. I swore it off (literally) and said never again will my feet touch that machine. Then I decided it was a good idea to hire one of the trainers at my gym at work to whip me into shape and the first thing she had me on was that elliptical. I cried…really I did. For those that know me personally I know you’re not surprised to hear that I cried…I’m such a cry baby. Needless to say she knew what I hated and pushed me to love it. I went from barely being able to be on it for 5 minutes to 30 minutes.

We love the elliptical because you can get a great cardio work out without a lot of heavy impact on the joints and knees. Andy and I both love to use it before working out with Lass and Wes to warm up and we also like to use it as a means of cardio while working out–we do sprints on it. Our favorite cardio routine on the elliptical is to warm up at a normal pace for the first five minutes, then start sprinting. Go as fast as possible at the highest resistance we can take for 30 seconds followed by a 30 rest. Still moving on the machine while resting but not as fast and repeat for 25 minutes followed by a five minute cool down.

So what is your favorite piece of equipment at your gym? Post a comment and tell me!

Challenge #5: Get Fit: The Winners Are…

healthy family challenge

It’s a tie!

Training without a goal is like setting off on a family road trip without your GPS. There’s no guarantee you’ll reach your destination. So this month, we gave each member of the Avaglianos and Lehmans a personalized cardio, strength and weight-loss target. They worked with their fitness trainers and nutritionists to overcome obstacles and shape up. See who hit the mark, why some missed it and what their coaches did to make them move in the right direction.

What the Avaglianos Accomplished
At the start of this challenge, Peggy couldn’t complete a single sit-up and Peter was unable do more than three perfect-form push-ups. But 30 days later that all changed. The entire family reached or exceeded their strength goals. “Sit-ups were a perfect objective for Peggy because she complained about her weak core,” says personal training director Ann Erik of Tilton Fitness. “Plus, they are easy to measure.” And being able to gauge your progress is a great motivator: “Having a target to strive for inspired Peter to make a habit of going to the gym four times per week,” says Peggy. Amazingly, the family lost weight even though they took a 10-day trip to Italy mid-challenge! Here’s what they were aiming for with their workouts.

Peggy’s Goals
Go 2,000 meters on rowing machine in 9 minutes and 30 seconds Missed by only 4 seconds.
Do 5 sit-ups Exceeded by 7!
Lose 6 pounds Achieved! Down to 175 pounds (started at 191 in June).

Peter’s Goals
Walk 1 mile in 15 minutes Achieved! With 28 seconds to spare!
Do 10 push-ups with proper form Exceeded by 2!
Lose 6 pounds Achieved! Down to 272 pounds (started at 285 in June).

Michael’ s Goals
Run 1 mile in 7 minutes and 30 seconds Exceeded! With 32 seconds to spare!
Leg-press 800 pounds for 3 reps Achieved!
Lose 4 pounds Exceeded! Lost 6!

Amanda’s Goals
Go 2,000 meters on rowing machine in 9 minutes and 30 seconds Missed by only 4 seconds.
Do 3 pull-ups Achieved!
Lose 4 pounds Missed by just 1 pound!

How They Did It
★ Passed on a ride. The Avaglianos headed to Italy for some family R&R, but the country’s pasta and gelato didn’t weigh them down. “With all our walking around Venice–sometimes over 40 flights of stairs in one day–we stayed on track with our goals,” says Peggy. Vacations aren’t an excuse to gain weight. Instead, do your sightseeing on foot as much as possible.

★ Got write with themselves. Peggy suggests joining a free website, like or, and logging your food intake and exercise every day. “Being accountable to yourself really makes a difference,” says Peggy.

★ Used a training schedule. “Peter was a little worried about his walking goal,” says Erik, who also created a rowing routine for Peggy. “But following my set plan that includes interval and distance work helps improve speed and endurance.”


What the Lehmans Accomplished

This month the Lehmans’ sweat and tears paid off! Tiffany, Andy and 10-year-old Anna have a lot to be proud of after making huge fitness strides. “You need to be comfortable with basic body-weight movements–lunges, sit-ups, dips, push-ups, pull-ups and rows–before you can begin any formal strength program,” says Andy’s trainer, Wesley Keith of Gold’s Gym. “When Andy was able to complete 50 reps of each of these movements in half an hour, it meant his body was conditioned enough to move to the next level.” Tiffany also achieved what she set out to and feels invincible. “I am amazed at how just believing in myself a little bit and having someone else–my trainer–believe in me has showed me that I can be and do anything I want,” says Tiffany, who lost 2.5% of her body fat.

Best of all, this inspiration was passed from one generation to the next. “My parents motivated me to work out and were so encouraging,” says Anna, who exercised four to five days a week and realized how good she felt when forgoing junk food. “I am happier because I’m healthier and making better food choices. Overall, I’m very proud of myself,” she says. Here’s their tally when it came to taking things up a notch at the gym.

Tiffany’s Goals
5-minute continuous treadmill push Missed by only 6 seconds!
Squat, bench-press and deadlift 120 pounds each Missed each by 50 pounds or less!
Lose 4 pounds Achieved! Down to 233 (started at 250 in June).

Andy’s Goals
15-minute continuous treadmill push Achieved!
Squat, bench-press and deadlift a total of 500 pounds Exceeded by 215 pounds!
Lose 1”  from waist and 1.5% body fat Exceeded! Lost 4.5” and 2% (started at 257 pounds in June).

Anna’s Goals
Do 15 reps each of squats, jumping jacks, toe touches and overhead presses Achieved!
Lose 5 pounds Achieved!

How They Did It

★ Worked their way up. Lass Lassiter of Gold’s Gym helped Tiffany achieve her goals by using interval training and gradually increasing her workouts. For example, with the treadmill push, Tiffany started with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off; the next session she did one minute on and one minute off, until she hit five minutes. “Every session, Lass pushed me harder and further than I ever thought possible,” Tiffany says.

★ Kept an eye on their plates. Their trainers and nutritionist suggested they cut unhealthy carbs, eat lean sources of protein and consume more fruits and veggies. “Lass has the same philosophy as Stephanie: If you can’t pronounce an ingredient in a product, then you shouldn’t eat it,” says Tiffany.

★ Avoided all excuses. This month the Lehmans were struggling with issues relating to their autistic 7-year-old son, Jack. Yet they were still able to stick with the Healthy Challenge plan. “Life is life, and if we wait for the timing to be perfect to set our goals, we’ll never be able to reach them,” says Tiffany.

What They Won: Both the Avagliano and Lehman families had their choice of one of two Epic home fitness cardio machines provided by Dick’s Sporting Goods: an A30T treadmill with iFit training programs and built-in speakers or an A30E whisper-quiet elliptical trainer (

How did your family get fit this month? Share in the comments below.

Tiffany, Week 20: What We Let Slip To Stay Fit


I’ve blogged a lot about how much I love working out. Sweaty, intense, long sessions of weights and cardio. And I bet you’re thinking, “She has to be cutting corners somewhere. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” Well, let me tell you the #1 place that I’m not cutting corners: What we eat. Yes, it’s tough finding time to put a healthy meal on the table and manage this. The solution: Planning. You have to plan. If you don’t have a meal plan you’ll slip. We don’t work out on Sundays so that’s the day that we will cook a lot in preparation for the coming week. We eat a lot of fresh fruit, eggs, chicken, salad, and turkey. We also love quinoa, which is a great meat substitute. We eat a lot of quinoa tacos. We always have chicken cooked up so we can put it in salads or make fajitas.

So what does slip? Housework. Our house is not as organized and clean as I’d like it. But I’ve gotten over it quickly and realize that it’s never going to go away. It will always be there waiting for us. The kids, our health, our lives, etc, could be gone in a moment. So we prioritize what is most important and the rest falls into place. Really we lead a great and busy life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope I’ve given you some tips on how you too can have it all. It might take time but stay persistent and it will fall into place.

What do you push to the side to make time for fitness? Post a comment and tell me!