Family health

What I learned from the Healthy Family Challenge

Crystal reveals the secret to her happiness in her final Healthy Family Challenge post — and shares some of the life lessons she's learned along the way.

By Crystal Allen
What I learned from the Healthy Family Challenge Above: Crystal with her family. Below: Bella jumps for joy.

I walk into my Friday morning strength training class, grab some weights and a resistance band and find a spot in front of the floor-to-ceiling studio mirror. I gaze at my reflection along with the reflections of my classmates and I am struck by something: I look like I belong here. More importantly, I feel like I belong here.  

Has it really been 13 weeks since this incredible journey with the Today's Parent Healthy Family Challenge began? I almost don't recognize my own reflection in the mirror. It's not that I've lost a ton of weight (though I am very proud of the 15 pounds that I have lost) but this woman in the mirror has a new sense of self-confidence about her. She almost glows. 

Over the past few months I've had friends ask me what my secret is. I think some of them think I'm pregnant at first. "You're glowing," they tell me. "Do you have a secret that you're keeping from us?"

This is the secret: I believe in myself. I know that I can do it. I've lost 15 pounds and I will lose another 15 pounds and 15 more after that. I've been healthy and active for the past six months and I'm not going to fall off the wagon. Sure, there will be blips. My family will go to Steveston and indulge in fish and chips. Life will get in the way and I will miss a week of working out. I will take my kids for an occasional post-swimming ice cream cone and I may indulge in a bowl of salt and vinegar chips while watching a movie on the couch. That is all OK because I now know this — one treat, one meal, one week of missed classes does not mean I am not healthy and active. It's how we live our lives around those moments that matters. It doesn't matter if I didn't go to the gym yesterday, it matters that I will be healthy and active today. 

The change in my family because of this journey has been wonderful. My husband, Rob, has lost more than 20 pounds simply by paying attention to his portion control and abstaining from unhealthy snack options at work and eating healthy snacks he brings instead. My daughter, Bella, has started to eat foods that we couldn't get her to try before. Even if she doesn't like everything that she tries she now knows that the worst thing that could happen is that she won't like it, but if she does like it she will have a new favourite food!

Bella also used to be content staying inside for the day, reading books, drawing pictures, doing crafts. Now her day doesn't feel complete unless she goes outside for a bike ride or a walk that concludes with a nice long play at the park. That's the way it should be for kids, and it makes me so proud that she has gotten there. 

What I learned from the Healthy Family Challenge  

It also occurred to me recently that there are pictures of me now. Before, I used to hide from the camera and when I did get captured in a photo I'd cringe at the image. Over the last couple of months I've stopped hiding and, though I don't look as thin in the photos as I would like, I find myself thinking that I look healthy, energetic and confident. That's good enough for me and I'm so glad that my kids will have pictures taken with Mama (in addition to all of the photos with Daddy) to look back on when they are older. 

These are the lessons that I have learned from the Healthy Family Challenge:

  • Find what works for you
  • Go play outside
  • It's OK to indulge every once in awhile

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Today's Parent for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And thank you to everyone who read my posts for joining me on the first leg of this incredible journey. I hope you will join me at my blog Sew Creative and continue following where this journey called life takes me and my family. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy life.

This article was originally published on May 29, 2013

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