The Jacksons, Week 16: Deep Reflections From Chili's

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge




It's "crunch time." And, for us Jacksons, that could be significant in any of three different ways.

I thought about this as my son, Jackson, and I sat inside a rowdy Chili's restaurant the other night, our Healthy Families Challenge goals still on our minds.

Naturally, the eatery's "Bottomless Tostado Chips" and homemade salsa called to us as we decided on an appetizer. For these past five months, we've made conscientious efforts to pick healthier food options when we dine out. But it's funny how crispy foods are so satisfying to us, the sharp munching so pleasing to our senses and palate.

Among all the starters, the chips and salsa has among the lowest fat grams (39), calories (480) and carbs (26) per serving. At least it did as of last February, according to the CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter (2010).

Sixteen weeks into this high-profile health and fitness test, my excess pounds haven't fallen off easily or quickly, but they've fallen, thank you. The last time I lost serious weight, about 25 pounds some 11 years ago, I was working out voraciously and eating next to nothing for several months. Guess how long the pounds stayed off once I began to eat normally again?

Exactly.

Jackson, who isn't dieting, is much more aware of how he can help maintain his good health for years to come by thinking about what he eats and drinks.
tostada chips picture

When the (tostado) chips are down, we gotta dig in. Credit: Deidra Jackson



So, for us, the crunch-time ethos also means -- despite what we're having for dinner tonight -- we're digging in for this final lap of the challenge.

Additionally, lessons have been learned this go-round, especially by me.

You know, I've grown to regularly enjoy low-calorie yogurt -- especially if it's carrot-cake or vanilla-chai flavored -- and I've kicked to the curb most high-sugar foods because they no longer are welcome in my life. I realize that I don't have to have them.

Thank goodness there won't be any more food–centered holidays to contend with for a few months, but when mountains of celebratory cuisine and treats are within my reach, I don't have to "act a fool," as some Southerners would say, and overindulge.

And I'm back in the exercise saddle. I've resumed my workouts with Jenn Hall, a graduate assistant in the University of Mississippi's Department of Campus Recreation. I actually anticipated getting moving after the holidays. I really craved my personal trainer's guided workout, because I knew she'd help me push through the numerous reps, the stationary miles and the lunges. You know how much easier it is to lift a bit more weight or run those few extra laps when someone is by your side motivating you.

With Jackson continuing his fencing classes and gaining from the beneficial strength and conditioning that comes with them, we'll both be demonstrating a third and more literal interpretation of "crunch time," in the form of those abdominal-busting exercises. Maybe we'll suffer through -- I mean, work through -- crunches together. And, incidentally, they're worthwhile when they're done the right way, without straining your back.

Crunches, how we both dislike thee, but we're game for any effective physical training that will get us both into good shape.

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

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