working out

Tiffany, Week 15: The Hardest Summer of Our Parenting Lives

the lehmans

As I’ve shared, our son, Jack, is autistic. His formal diagnosis is PDD-NOS. Jack is a very normal 6-year-old boy. He loves all things sports, loves to ride his bike, loves to get dirty. He has two speeds: fast and sleep. There is no middle ground. Jack also talks all the time. While his vocabulary is vast, his ability to communicate is delayed which causes a lot of frustration for him. He gets so frustrated at times that he becomes very aggressive and violent.

Jack just finished his first year of school and did well. He thrives on set schedules and one-on-one attention. This now being summer break, it’s really been hard on him to adjust. What’s hard for him is hard for us. Without diving into to many details (although if you want to know more or you just need support and a shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate in the fun milestones, know I’m here for you), this has been the hardest summer of our parenting lives.

The old Tiffany would dive into self doubt, blame, anxiety and shame and face plant into candy bars from the vending machine, pizza, Chinese take-out, too much beer, too much wine, etc. The new and improved Tiffany still had a lot of self doubt, blame, anxiety, bitterness, etc. However, I wouldn’t turn to food and drinks for comfort. Instead, I turned to the gym and my personal trainer. I have had some tear-filled sessions with Lass and have let out a lot of aggression on a giant tractor tire and a heavy lead pipe. I did slip a few times with the food, but all in all, I ate very healthy and it’s almost funny in an ironic way how when you’re out of the bad food mode that you don’t just stop, drop and roll back to it. It’s all a slow progression. Weight gain, weight loss, fitness is all a slow progression. You know the saying: “Slow and steady wins the race”? Well it’s true.

I’m happy to report that school is going to be starting back up soon. Jack is excited, we’re excited, we’ve learned much better parenting techniques through this process. I’ve gone from having an angry and bitter heart to a heart of love and appreciation for Jack. I have gone from “Why me?” to “Thank you for giving this to me.” I put myself in his shoes and I think if I’m this frustrated, I can only imagine what he is going through. We have also learned that in order to fully help Jack (Anna too) that we have no choice but to be the healthiest we can be. We have a legacy to lead.

Has a struggle with your kids made you turn to food or drink for comfort? Post a comment and tell me the healthy ways you’ve found to handle tough times.

A Hidden Benefit Of Working Out: Better Sleep

Woman walking

A good sweat season may boost your mental health, help you slim down and even prevent illness. Plus there’s one more benefit to add to the list: Giving you a good night’s sleep.

Even though research supports a correlation between exercise and sleep, there is no set formula for seeing the benefits. You’ll need to experiment to know what works best for your body. For busy moms, the best time for exercise is when you can fit it into your day. You may find a morning boot camp class is ideal for squeezing in fitness, while others prefer a good run during their lunch hour. Or perhaps days are too hectic and the after-work Zumba class is when you’re revved and ready to go.

One word of caution: It’s probably best not to pop in an exercise DVD right before bed. Working out so close to lights out can make you feel energized when you are trying to come down from the stress and pressure of the day. And who wants to be up until 2 a.m.? A workout can also make you hungry. That’s fine during the day when you need the calories for energy, but at night, you don’t want to overeat before sleeping because it may interrupt your zzz’s.

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.

Peggy, Week 12: The Secrets of a Great Spin Class

peggy avagliano

After the school bus picked up the kids at 6:30 a.m., Peter and I headed to the gym for a 7 a.m. Spin class. If you’ve never experience Spinning, or indoor cycling, here are a few basics from the session we attended:

  • There are about two dozen spin cycles in a small room with many fans.
  • While the music plays, the instructor talks you through an imaginary trip up and down a mountain. He tells you when to increase resistance, when to stand up out of the saddle, and when to decrease resistance.
  • Each song corresponds with a “set” or series of movements and resistance-levels designed to achieve a goal, such as climbing a hill.

Peter and I were sweating before the warm-up was over, so we knew it would be a challenging workout.

With my first glance around the room, I saw some things which were expected. Gym rats, all of whom were size 5 or smaller, took the seats at the front of the class. Women outnumbered men, 3:1. Everyone else in the room was going faster than we were.

But halfway through the class, I realized we were all getting a workout. Spin may be done as a group activity, but it is really about achieving your individual best. The instructor may tell you to dial up the resistance ¾ of a notch, but if you can only handle ½ notch, do ½ a notch. Doing as much as you can do, is all that matters.

We finished our class, and we were both proud of simply cycling to the end.

And then, an amazing thing happened. The other members of the class came over to us and offered encouragement. One of the other men in the class told Peter to make sure he came back, because they need more guys in the session. Others warned us not to be discouraged if we felt like we could not move in the morning. “That’s normal,” they said. The instructor, Erik, checked in with us and told us to come back soon.

Peter’s response was, ”Maybe, Sunday.” Or was it really, “some day”?

Have you ever taken a Spin class before? What did you think of it? Post a comment and let me know.

Tiffany, Week 12: Everyone Has More Steps Than Me!


We’ve quickly learned that Jack was the family member with all the bragging rights when it comes to number of steps taken per day. That child has two speeds: fast and asleep. If he’s not sleeping he’s constantly moving. He is the most active child I’ve ever seen.

Andy is a close second. Because of his job, he’s constantly on the go all day, 5 days a week. Anna is neck and neck with Jack and Andy because she loves dancing and riding her bike.

Me, I really have to work at getting my 10,000 steps in a day. I’m behind a desk 40 hours a week so it really has to be deliberate for me. I park as far away as I can in the morning when getting into work, I walk during my 15-minute breaks and occasionally climb the stairs. Then I work out at lunchtime and two to three times a week I work with my personal trainer at Gold’s Gym.

When this challenge came up I was so excited because I love to work out. It truly is my passion. This is kind of gross but I love it…the more I sweat the more I push myself harder. It’s hard to believe that as much as I love to work out I’m so overweight. I am the self-proclaimed “fattest fit girl in America.” I have a blog outside of this blog (that has sadly been neglected, HA!) and the title is “Tales of a Skinny Girl Trapped Inside a Fat Body.” Blogging about fitness and working out has been so therapeutic for me and this challenge, thankfully, is getting me closer to my goals.

Do you ever feel like a fit person in a fat body? Post a comment and tell me!

Challenge Yourself: Exercise at Home

modified superman

Peggy and Tiffany have been sharing their progress as they work out at their new gyms. But even if you don’t belong to a health club or can’t afford a trainer, there’s no reason you can’t get fit on your own, in the comfort of your living room.

Check out our slideshow, “Get Fit on a Budget: Easy At-Home Exercises.” Developed by fitness expert Gregory Florez, the routine only requires three inexpensive pieces of equipment. And best of all, you’ll lose weight and gain strength in four to six weeks if you do the moves three days a week.

What are your favorite at-home exercises? Tell me in the comments below.