Thursday, March 07, 2013

How I Turned Around My Family's Fitness & Nutrition in 2 Months!


On January 1st I decided to make some major changes to my family’s nutrition and physical activity.  Although there was no single event that triggered this life change, I definitely took notice the very first time I experienced pain in the knees when climbing the stairs.  This pain got me thinking that I was quickly becoming heavy due to poor eating habits and inactivity.  The practical part of me calculated that I would soon not fit into standard sized clothing if I continued on my current path. 


I began to think of our 5 young children, all the proper body weights—but with a frequent propensity to eating desserts and exercising too rarely.  They also learned by example, and noticed when I would snack.  Naturally, they also wanted to partake in the goodies being consumed by their mother.  I was setting a very poor example for them, and I was ashamed. 

Bad Eating Habits Are Learned

I started by taking radical action and emptied our cupboards of candies, chips and sweets.  With 5 kids you easily collect junk food at all special occasions, including Easter, Hallowe’en and birthday parties.  My kids were not pleased that I was clearing out their stash, but I made it clear that I would not be eating sweets either.  Somehow, this made it better for them.


Next, I did a healthy shopping that consisted of lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and unprocessed poultry and meats.  I decided that we would make all of our meals at home and read every food label that was to come into our home.  It is uncanny how much salt most processed foods contain—and preservatives.  In a past article, I mentioned how I would add a fruit and add a veggie to every single meal that I would serve my family.

Reading Food Labels Is Important!

Then I set out to get one hour of exercise with my family each and every day, regardless of our harsh Canadian weather.  On days where it was clear of snow, we would walk.  On snow days, we would toboggan.  I wrote previously how I lost 15 lbs just by tobogganing.  It helped tremendously that my husband was onboard with my plan, and was also an active participant in getting active and eating nutritiously.


In mid-February, I decided that I needed a more intense workout—and more structured activities for the kids.  My friend suggested that I purchase a family membership to the YMCA.  There was one nearby which I hadn’t visited in many years. 

I went to check it out and was really impressed with all the scheduled activities for both adults and kids, up-to-date amenities, and the cleanliness of the facilities.  The monthly membership fee for my family of 7 was only $110 per month.  For my husband and I, the price included access to the extensive gym, pool, scheduled activities, and fitness classes.  Swimming lessons, martial arts and dance lessons were included for all 5 of my kids with this membership!

The “Y” offered a 2-week free trial so we could see if it suited our lifestyle.  I really enjoyed it from the very beginning and found the staff and patrons friendly and welcoming.  On Family Day, the YMCA ran a promotion that waived the sign up fee—and my family decided to become members at that time.

I like that I have been able to try new things at the “Y” such as yoga, spinning class, step and arriba classes.  Although I am new to these types of fitness, I have tried to keep an open mind and just do my very best each and every time.  I have challenged myself by doing 30 minutes of elliptical and treadmill during my workouts, as well as stomach crunches and weight-assisted chin ups.  It has made me feel empowered.  My kids have enjoyed swimming at the “Y”, the sports classes, and the bouncy castle that gives them a trampoline-style workout.  I like that we are all together and active.


And now 9 weeks have passed, since I first embarked upon healthier eating and more robust physical activity for my family.   So far in this short time I have lost one clothing size just by eating more nutritiously and becoming more active.  My husband is looking well-toned and lean, and is almost at his target weight.  I can see great improvement in my kids too: not only have they all toned up, but they are not asking for junk food very often.  I am pleased of the decision we made to get our family on track, and look forward to continuing on this journey together!

Are you at your target fitness level?  What do you do to try to stay active?  Do you need to make any changes to your eating habits or physical activity level? 

29 comments:

  1. Oh, good for you! :) Although we are quite busy and active living on the farm, we do need to do other activity too. I go for a walk every day, but I need to get back to Zumba and yoga.

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    1. Christine, I like the structured exercises, as I would never do the sit ups at home ;)

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  2. Wow! Your family is an inspiration to us all.

    I wish we had a Y near us!

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  3. Good for you for getting your family healthy!

    We get really active with the kids; we have a toboggan run in our front yard that we use 3-5 times a week; we have dance parties on days it is TOO cold to be outside. In the spring/summer/fall we go for walks, bike rides, swimming at a friends place. and LOTS of play in the backyard on our playstructure (climbing wall, slide, swing)

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    1. mamawee, it sounds like you keep your family very active! That's wonderful to hear!

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  4. YAY! So impressed. Keep up the good work. I notice that my family eats healthier food in the summer as opposed to the winter. It has something to do with a huge garden and in the winter we're inside a lot. So then we do fun things like make cookies. :)

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    1. Nicolthe pickle, spring is just around the corner and I'm looking to the care-free days of summer that will follow!

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  5. Good job! Our eating and activity level is better in the spring/summer I find. We have some work to do to stay active during the winter months but indoor activities like swimming and such is a great start! I wish I could convince my family to eat better. Its gotta be a team effort right! ;)

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    1. Alyssa, summer is a great time to give it a go when fresh fruits and veggies are plentiful and the appetite is smaller due to the heat.

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  6. I am so glad I just read this post!! My daughter asked me to get her a membership to the Y for her birthday and I completely forgot. And, her birthday is Monday. PHEW!!!

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    1. Glad that I could help with a reminder! I think she will love the membership!

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  7. That's great! I have NOT been doing what I want. I keep looking at myself and thinking of my kids habits and wanting to change so bad but I just haven't had the will power or the push I guess to get started. I keep thinking to myself, maybe next week. Reading about what others are doing pushes me a little bit closer though!

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    1. Kathleen, it helps when you are able to see results in the whole family. And I was delighted to be able to buy new jeans at Old Navy...not a bigger size, but one size down. It helps that my family is not complaining, suffering or starving. I don't try to focus on will-power for months--just will-power for one day at a time.

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  8. That is awesome Jenna! I feel crappy because I set out to do a healthy year, period. Healthy living, eating, exercise and the eating part trips me up still. Darn sweet tooth. I love the Y for our family too. It works well for us.

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    1. Paula, I also have a sweet tooth but I try to decide how many sweets I am entitled per week...and make sure I am adhering to the proper portion. The Special K chocolate snack bars have been great for that at 110 calories.

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  9. Fantastic! I'm about to embark on a similar journey of eliminating the junk food from our diets and getting back to the basics. Over the last year, our meals have become more processed and the treats running rampant EVERYDAY! Hubs is the worst for snacking & eating junk food and the kids 'monkey see, moneky do'!
    Here's to a healthy 2013 for everyone! :)

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    1. Cheers to that, Nancy! We ate take-out almost every night and processed foods on nights when we didn't take out. And my husband had a soft spot for giving the kids dessert each and every night. This was something that we had to fix.

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  10. This is fabulous and I'm so proud of you! The first step is making your own foods---- ditching the boxed stuff and living life with real foods.

    Keep on your journey-- it gets easier!

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  11. Thanks a lot, SamiJoe! I appreciate it!

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  12. Wow! That is an impressive turn around in a short amount of time. It is really great that your family was on-board for this!
    I'm a Y member myself and I really love the atmosphere there!

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    1. Thanks Cindy! You're right about the atmosphere at the Y: it is very supportive. It's my new home away from home.

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  13. That is incredibly admirable. I had thought about joining the Y but we don't have one close by. However the ones we do have are equipped with pools... I love to swim... Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Margarita! If your community centre has a pool, they likely sell tickets in 10 packs so you can go when you like.

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  14. What an inspiration you are! I eat too much junk food and the only reason I do is because it is so convenient. I understand when you said you had pain in your knees. I find it hard to get up quickly because of knee pain. Congrats on your lifestyle change and keep us posted!

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    1. Thanks Lee! I'm really glad I made this lifestyle change. It is great to see the ongoing results, which mean no more knee pain. Now I'm shopping for clothing because I've gotten smaller, not because I've grown out of my clothes.

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  15. Every time I've seen this post this week I keep thinking you bought that cart full of chocolates :)

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    1. LOL Misfit Momma! I didn't buy that cart full, but I bought maybe 50 chocolate bars back them...all assorted varieties. My store had cleared them all out for .25c each. Now I'm on a healthy path with my family :)

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  16. I am feeling all the passion you put into this change and I find it very inspiring to do the same.My knees and lower back hurt and I have to make a change in my lifestyle too.Thanks for sharing this with us.

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