The Drevitches, That's All Folks! We End Our Year Smaller and Wiser

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

It's the phone call that changed my life.

My ParentDish editor rang me late one day last summer to tell me that the site was launching something called the Healthy Families Challenge, and that I should consider getting involved as one of a quartet of writers/guinea pigs.

My response? Thanks, but no thanks.

The last thing I wanted to do was spend a year thinking, much less writing, about trying to live more healthfully, and the last thing America wanted to do, I imagined, was to read about it.

Two weeks later, she asked again, and this time I mentioned the offer to my wife, Lynn, who immediately said I should do it. After some debate with her, I realized I had no good answer to the obvious question: Why wouldn't you want to get some expert help to lose weight, and to get the kids more active? So I begrudgingly signed on.

Best decision I've made in years.

Farewell from Manhattan! Courtesy Gary Drevitch

I'd gradually fallen out of shape over the course of about nine years, but it turned out I really was ready to commit to undoing the damage. I took the advice of nutritionist Marissa Lippert of Nourish -- not a diet plan, but ideas for eating and snacking healthier every day -- and turned my workout over to New York Sports Clubs master trainer Victoria Gallagher. The result? Forty-eight pounds gone -- from 211 down to 163, a weight I last saw in 1986. A good seven inches came off my waistline as well.

Now the size 36 pants I bought in December when my old 38s became too large sit in the back of my closet, and I pull my belts to the final loop around my size 34 pants, which have been almost fully replaced by 32s.

Meanwhile, at the gym, lazy afternoons on the recumbent bike followed by a few barbell and dumbbell lifts have been replaced by dynamic workouts, starting with cardio on the rowing machine, a cross-trainer, or a flight of stairs before a mix of pec flies, seated rows, BOSU ball pushups, reverse crunches, jackknifes, pull-ups, chin-ups, Battle Rope routines, squats, walking lunges, or step-ups -- always pushing, always keeping the heart rate up. The sessions are exhausting and satisfying, and I know they're having an impact.

And now, people are asking me for weightloss advice and fitness tips. Mostly, though, they ask if I feel different. I do, but not in the ways you might think. It's the little things: Those small towels the gym provides in the locker room fit around my waist now, for example. I'm more comfortable roughhousing and squeezing into the backs of cabs with the kids. And I'm wearing my shirts tucked in a lot more often.

The Challenge has been exciting, validating and gratifying for me, and positive for the family all around. Lynn lost seven pounds and a dress size, and took advantage of some opportunities to learn new cooking techniques to make healthier versions of foods the kids already like, such as Indian meals. In her training sessions at the Jewish Community Center here in Manhattan, she picked up some lessons about moving beyond the treadmill and having a more balanced workout. She fell in love with a weekend boxing class there, and did her best to put into practice Marissa's advice for getting the children to eat healthier.

Ah, yes, the kids. Benjamin, 10, Natalie, 8, and Adam, 4, certainly feel that they met their primary collective Healthy Family Challenge goal -- that is, not letting Mom and Dad's lifestyle changes affect them. But, really, they did. The kids are all now much more engaged in sports or physical activity year round. Benjamin added winter basketball to spring and fall Little League. Natalie moved up into a twice-a-week gymnastics program at the New York Kids Club, and was chosen for her elementary-school's track team. And Adam has been taking sports classes all year long with the gifted children's coaches at the JCC.

None of the children idled during cold winter weeks, either, as they took part in a weekend skating program at Chelsea Piers, and spent their vacation barreling down the hills at Vermont's Stratton Mountain, while their alpine-challenged dad raced through the forest in snowshoes.

Do the kids eat healthier? Well, thanks to our lifestyle change, the snacks available to them are less fattening; their homemade meals include more fish and veggies (even if a disturbing portion still remain untouched); and, thanks to the forward-thinking administration at their public school, their school lunches underwent a major overhaul, ditching salty, fatty, starchy foods and replacing them with more whole grains and non-nuggetized chicken.

It's somewhat overwhelming to consider how much has changed for us over the past several months. Thanks to all of you who have come along for the ride as readers. I've tried to keep the goal of the program in mind -- to share with other families the things we've learned on our journey. I hope we've passed on some good ideas here.

And to anyone out there who is truly ready for a lifestyle change, for themselves and their kids, just know that if you commit yourself to it, there's no reason you can't do what we did.

And I'm fairly confident you'll be as happy as we are for having done it.

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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