The Drevitches, Week 3: I Hit the Gym, and the Gym Hits Back

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

Natalie shows off in gymnastics class. Photo: Gary Drevitch

I had a workout routine that had worked for me for years.

I spent some time on the recumbent bike -- usually long enough to get through two issues of ESPN The Magazine -- and then did enough isolated leg, chest, bicep and tricep lifts to feel achy the next day. But I knew what the problem was: My workout wasn't making me sweat.

My new trainer, Victoria Gallagher from New York Sports Clubs, got it immediately. When we spoke a couple of days before our first workout, I detailed my regular routine, and she said, "We've got to up the intensity."

The night before my first session, I felt a little bit like the local bully had told me he (well, she) was going to beat me up in the parking lot after school. Victoria's no bully, but she still brought the pain. She walked me over to a set of stairs and said, "I want you to run down these stairs, one at a time going down and two at a time going back up. We'll do this seven times." When I finished the run, panting, I asked, "What's next?" She smiled and said, "Two more sets ... you wanted more intensity, right?"

After the stairs, Victoria had me and my burning quads do three sets of 10 push-ups, followed by machine-aided pull-ups, cable pulls and pull-downs. She stood by to make sure I did every exercise correctly. Getting good form down was in some ways the hardest part.

We then moved off the machines and picked up a couple of dumbbells, but instead of standing still to do bicep curls like I used to, Victoria had me do three sets of 15 while stepping up onto a stool and then down off of it, combining weight-training and cardio. Victoria emphasized that my workouts should not only burn calories, but that all of my exercises should "engage the abs." No matter what exercise I do, my largest muscle group needs to be part of it.

The next morning (and through the day, and into the next day) I was achy in places I'd rarely ached before, but I also felt like I'd pushed myself like I hadn't in a long while.

Victoria's prescription for me is to work out, early in the morning, once a week with her; to repeat the workout once on my own over the weekend, followed by 20 minutes of cardio exercise, like treadmill time; and to come to the gym a third time, during lunchtime on a weekday, for a strictly cardio workout. I said at the start of the Challenge that my biggest fitness concern was finding time to work out. Now we'll see if I can make this schedule work.

At home, we've all been incorporating more of Nourish nutritionist Marissa Lippert's advice at the dinner table. I'm trying to cover half my dinner plate with salad or vegetables, while reducing my carb portions. I've been eating more salads than I have in years, and she's right, they can be filling.

As Marissa recommended, we took the kids with us for a family marketing outing to the Trader Joe's that just opened in our neighborhood, and we let them help decide what foods we'd try and what they'd want to help cook. We all made a terrific chicken dish with spinach, peas and an Indian simmer sauce this week, and our 7- and 9-year-olds actually liked it. Hopefully, novelty and their continued buy-in will make them more adventurous at the table.

Our two older children got to try the new and timely healthier lunch menu at their public school this week, too. The big kickoff lunch featured whole-wheat pasta with bolognese sauce made from grass-fed beef, courtesy of celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman. Natalie, our 7-year-old, said, "It was the best lunch ever -- even better than pizza!" Benjamin, 9, agreed the meal had been delicious, but wouldn't go further: "Come on! Nothing beats pizza!"

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Drevitch family doing? Check in on their progress!


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