The Hatch-Palucks, That's All Folks! It's Not Goodbye, It's So Long

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

Can I admit that I'm a little verklempt?

It's the last time I'll be writing here about our Healthy Families Challenge. Yes, that's right -- it's been eight months of food, exercise and attitude rehab for our merry band of four, and now we have to say so long.

We are so grateful to the amazing professionals who helped us get off the couch, clean out our fridge and basically change our entire lifestyle.

This journey has been one we never could have anticipated. For me, my husband, Channing, and our two children, Emmeline and Henry, it really has been life-altering.

When we started the Challenge in October 2010, I was still 10 pounds over my goal weight of 130, and my closet was filled with clothes sized in the double-digits. Channing was fretting over his heart health (heart disease and early death run in his family) and I was concerned about diabetes and cancer, being at risk for both.

Our kids -- especially our oldest -- were couch potatoes who preferred sedentary pursuits and, as their parents, we did not set a good example. There was very little physical activity happening in our household, and our pantry was stocked with fatty convenience foods we could grab on the run as we pursued professional goals that compromised our schedules to the extreme.

But today?

Today, I am wearing size 8 jeans, and I've lost six of those 10 pounds, going from 142 to 136. I hit the treadmill three times a week at the Activities and Recreation Center at the University of Illinois, while Channing swims. He's lost 13 pounds since October, and he even suggested we take up yoga as a way to up the ante on our physical and mental well-being.

Who is this person? Do I even know him?

I've changed my entire thought-process, when it comes to food, especially. I've had a fraught relationship with eating over the years, but a long, hard look in the mirror helped me realize that my attitudes toward food were influencing not just the scale but also our kids, and, to some extent, my husband.

amy hatch family picture

We've come a long way, baby, but we still have a long way to go. Credit: Kathleen Nealon

I failed to look at cooking as a means to an end -- and that end was health. Instead, it was a chore for me, something I dreaded and associated very closely with failure. When our daughter, Emmie, started to exhibit signs of food neophobia (she panics when she has to try a new food and severely limits the number of foods she will eat), I took it as my own failure.

Internalizing that (and using it as an excuse), I stopped trying to feed our family healthy meals. Our hectic schedules didn't help. Soon, I was wearily heating up the same frozen menu items night after night.

Thanks to some "therapy" in the form of writing about Emmie's issues and some good advice and insights from our team at the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois, we've taken great strides in helping Emmie overcome her fears.

We've taken a new tack, and we talk about foods and exercise only positively. While we can't say that is entirely responsible for Emmie's progress, we can say that she has tried several new menu items, including homemade whole-wheat bread, applesauce and potatoes that aren't in french-fried form.

This is a huge step in the right direction.

Emmie is also a lot more active and is now a four-sport athlete -- swimming, basketball, soccer and T-ball.

Henry is the same active little man he always was, and he is our happy herbivore, devouring fresh fruits and veggies by the pound. He has begun to exhibit some age-appropriate pickiness, but thanks to the lessons we learned about Emmie, we aren't catering to his culinary whims. Instead, he gets the same food we all eat and we don't make a fuss.

This all sounds like it can be wrapped up in a nice little bow, doesn't it? But I'm cynical enough to know how easy it would be to slowly slink off the wagon.

But while I don't think we'll ever go back to our old ways of snacking and waiting for a magic wand to make us healthy, I do think we'll do our best to stay on track, with a few detours here and there.

Today, just before I wrote this, we made a hefty financial commitment and renewed our gym membership for the next six months -- and we are also committed to using it.

And that is as happy an ending as I ever hoped for.

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



Check out how the other families are doing!

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