Family health

What we learned from the Healthy Family Challenge

Crystal and her husband reflect on how they've benefited from the Healthy Family Challenge.

By Crystal Allen

What we learned from the Healthy Family Challenge Above: Rob and his love bugs. Below: A family outing on the beach.

My family is on week four of the Today's Parent Healthy Family Challenge and I just received some startling news: My husband has lost 10 pounds since we started! My husband who, bless his heart, already weighed less than me. Sigh. I've been going to the gym three to four times a week since January. Some days the bathroom scale reports that I've have lost five pounds, other days it says that I weigh exactly the same as when I first started.

I'm trying not to get discouraged — I've heard that it's easier for men to lose weight than women. I'm proud of him that he has fully committed to the Healthy Family Challenge. To celebrate Rob's 10 pound weight loss I thought I would pick my husband's brain and see how he is finding the Healthy Family Challenge.

Me: You lost 10 pounds. Congratulations. (Trying not to roll my eyes.) What do you attribute your weight loss to?
The Hubs: Portion control. I tend to have a big appetite so when dinner time rolls around I usually load up a full plate. The Healthy Family Challenge has me eating smaller meals six times a day, so when it's dinner time I'm not famished. We often have snacks on our break room table that aren't very healthy — doughnuts, cake, cookies. Because I'm now bringing snacks to work, and feel like I need to be held accountable to the Healthy Family Challenge, I'm abstaining from the break room table snacks and eating my healthy snacks instead. Recently there was a Dairy Queen Blizzard on the table and my willpower won out. I didn't even try a taste. Tip: Smelling food is almost as good... then again, maybe not.

Me: What do you think of the Healthy Family Challenge fitness plans?
The Hubs: I really like the nights where the activity can be done spontaneously. If the activity requires too much planning ahead I find that between Bella's taekwondo, gymnastics and swimming and your time at the gym it's a struggle to fit it in. Activities that can be done indoors for 15 minutes to half an hour after dinner, like the family dance party and balloon volleyball, are my favourite. Also, with the rainy Vancouver weather, having indoor options for family activities are a must.

Me: What do you think of the Healthy Family Challenge meal plans?
The Hubs: Even though we enjoy cooking and make our meals at home anyway, I find that since we started the challenge we have been spending a lot more time in the kitchen planning and preparing meals. It seems that a lot of the recipes are designed to hide certain ingredients from the kids, but Bella likes her food deconstructed and if she can't tell what is in something it's usually a struggle to get her to eat it. I like that we are eating smaller meals six times a day and I feel like it has boosted my metabolism. Now that we are a few weeks into the challenge, even if we don't have a specific snack or breakfast prepared, I know in my head what good options are from other days and substitute something in. We always have a batch of the Good Grain Muffins or Pumpkin Spice Muffins frozen so if we don't have one of the other snacks prepared I'll grab a muffin and some nuts and fruit on my way out the door for my two daytime snacks.

Me: Which have been your favourite and least favourite meals?
The Hubs: Favourites: Greek Pork Kebabs, Tuna Melt Pita Pizzas and Good Grain Basic Muffins. Least favourite: I've actually really liked them all. If I had to pick one, I think the Hoisin-Glazed Salmon. Being from the West Coast I eat a ton of salmon. I prefer the natural flavour of the fish to covering it with a lot of flavours. I think the hoisin sauce made it too salty for my taste, but the apple, cucumber and celery salad that was served with it was delicious. I want to continue making that recipe after the challenge is over.

Me: I really loved those Tuna Melt Pita Pizzas too. I think those were my biggest surprise. I thought they sounded weird but they were so good. OK, last question Anything else you would like to share with Today's Parent readers?
The Hubs: The Healthy Family Challenge has helped me recognize what a day's worth of healthy meals and activities looks like. I would recommend that any family who wants to start living a healthier lifestyle should sign up and give it a shot. This program is something that that you can actually live with long term. Make small changes, stick with it and it will eventually become part of your everyday life.

What we learned from the Healthy Family Challenge  

Check out our full Healthy Family Challenge plans.

This article was originally published on Mar 26, 2013

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