Introducing the Allen family...

The Allen family is taking part in the Today's Parent Healthy Family Challenge. Follow along as they share their ups and downs.

The Allen family: Isabella, Rob, Crystal and Adam. Photo: Zuzu Photography.

My name is Crystal Allen and I’m a 33-year-old mom to four-year-old Isabella and eight-month-old Adam. My husband Rob, 33, and I just celebrated our 11th anniversary and we will celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this summer. We made our home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in Richmond, BC.

My family and I are very excited to be taking part in the Today’s Parent Healthy Family Challenge. I look forward to sharing the highs and lows of my family’s quest to become more active.

I’ve struggled with body image issues for the majority of my life. I’ve never been a skinny girl, I’ve always been one of the chubbiest — if not the chubbiest — of my friends. I remember being 11 years old and enjoying a beautiful summer day with a group of girls from my neighbourhood. We were all wearing shorts and suddenly one of my friends suggested we judge who had the nicest legs. We all stood shoulder to shoulder in a circle and stuck our legs into the centre. “Crystal has the fattest legs, she’s out!” someone immediately proclaimed. I think that was the first time I realized that being thin was desirable.

It opened my eyes to a whole new world where girls wore makeup, dressed to hide their flaws and accentuate their positives and turned down dessert when their parents offered it to them. That is a world that I hope to shelter my daughter from for as long as possible. It saddens me that next year in kindergarten she could very well discover that world.

When my husband and I started dating it was the first time that I felt confident with my body. My husband loved me (and still does) for my inner beauty. I felt so comfortable in our relationship that I put on 30-40 lbs the first year that we were together. That weight has never come off and more weight has been added to it. I want my children to grow up with a healthy body image and enjoy physical activity — and 2013 is the year that my family is going to become more active.

I’ve recently joined the gym at our local community centre and I’m working out and taking yoga classes three to four days a week. I’ve watched Bella blossom and her confidence grow in the past few months as she started taking gymnastics classes. She is also enrolled in swim classes and just started Taekwondo. Rob came home last week and told me that his work is forming a team to participate in the Tough Mudder competition and that he interested in joining them. And with Adam — who won’t be taking part in the Healthy Family Challenge in the traditional sense — I’m convinced that watching his mom, dad and sister live an active, healthy lifestyle will mean that he considers it to be the norm once he’s old enough to participate.

I’m very excited about the healthier life that lies ahead for my family and I’m so happy that Today’s Parent readers will be joining us on this leg of our journey.

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