The Drevitches, Week 12: A Few of My (New) Favorite Things

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

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Little League is just one of things we were grateful for in 2010. credit: Gary Drevitch

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens? Not my thing. Dried cranberries and walnuts? Maybe.

It's the end of December, time for bloggers to compose Top 10 lists of movies, apps or headlines of the year. For our family, the top headline of 2010 has to be our participation in the Healthy Families Challenge, which has changed us in ways both small and large. Following are 10 of our other new favorite things:

1. A girl with an open mind. The toughest part of the Challenge has been getting our kids -- Benjamin, 10; Natalie, 8; and Adam, 4 -- to eat healthier. At our first meeting with nutritionist Marissa Lippert of Nourish, she urged the kids to try new fruits and vegetables each week. While the boys grumbled in protest, Natalie started jotting down the foods she'd be willing to try. And she's remained the most open to new dishes, like mushroom ravioli and chicken with spinach.

2. Truly team sports. The best moment of Benjamin's fall Little League season wasn't his pitching debut or his unassisted double play. It was a conversation we had after practice one Friday. Some of the early-arriving players had been horsing around, he told me, so when he got to the field, the coach had them running laps -- and he made Benjamin join, too. Why? "Because he said I'm part of the team and the laps were for the whole team." Way to go, coach.

3. Feeling it. My trainer, Victoria Gallagher of New York Sports Clubs, is far from a "no pain, no gain" drill sergeant. But she still wants me to feel the burn. At the start of every session, she asks me if I felt the effects of our previous workout a day or two later. Last week I admitted that my stomach muscles had been achy after we'd last met. She smiled and said, "That's great! That means it's working!"

4. Coaches who make kids feel like Number One. Adam's weekly sports class at the Jewish Community Center here in Manhattan gives him so much more confidence than playing ball with his big brother, who can't resist dominating him. I don't know how he does it, but coach Darren Michel makes every kid feel like they're "the best one," which is what Adam tells us he was after each class.

5. Trainers who push you. My wife, Lynn, just completed six weeks of personal training with Jamar Grimball at the JCC, and credits him with helping her lose three pounds to get back to her pre-parenthood weight. Jamar pushed Lynn by working areas she'd long ignored, like her shoulders and triceps, and by turning up the intensity, alternating sets of different exercises with limited down time to keep her heart rate up.

6. The power of positive thinking. The Healthy Families Challenge Facebook page (please "Like" us!) recently linked to this New York Times article about how imagining eating a food you crave can actually help you feel satisfied sooner than if you just dig right in. I think it's true: Sometimes I'll spot a plate of cookies, stop and think about them for a bit, then move on. It's better than just mindlessly grabbing one every time I pass. It's all about mindful eating.

7. ... and other cliches. "Lifestyle change" is the kind of new-agey phrase I've always mocked, but Marissa has made me a believer. I cover my dinner plate with veggies now instead of starchy sides, I have healthy snacks without empty calories, and, after a few months, those changes have become ... my lifestyle.

8. Dried cranberries and walnuts. Speaking of lifestyle change, a few months ago, I'd have laughed if you told me that at a big Sweet 16 party buffet I'd bypass pasta for a couple of handfuls of these. But you know what? I did it last month. And it was delicious, and it filled me up. Lifestyle change.

9. Support. I'm proud (and pleasantly surprised) to report that I've lost 24 pounds since Labor Day. But it couldn't have happened without Victoria, Marissa and especially Lynn -- who backed my decision to join the Challenge and has offered encouragement every step of the way.

10. A brighter future. I was talking with Victoria this week about how the gym will see an influx of newbies next week, all acting on New Year's resolutions. The problem with resolutions, of course, is the pressure people put on themselves to make major life changes just because it's January 1. I'm happy the Challenge began in October. Much less pressure -- that is, unless you count the millions of people checking up on us every week.

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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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.