2014 Spotlight Families: Powered Up for Success
We introduced you to our spotlight families, the Zappleys and the Crams. We organized a team of experts – doctors, dieticians, and fitness pros – to work with each family. The families put their plans into action for eight weeks, and now we’ve caught up with all the busy people involved in this challenge to find out how it worked. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to become part of a more fit family, too.
“As is often the case,” says Samuel Adkins, physician with Cabarrus Family Medicine-Prosperity Crossing, “one of the biggest challenges for the Zappley family was the diversity within the family in their levels of interest in healthy living.” He also recognized the fairly high stress level that Marlo Zappley, like most single moms, experiences.
The plan was to engage the children and give them ownership over their participation in healthy family activities. “Marlo is getting buy-in from the children, both for meal choices and for physical activity outlets,” says Adkins.
Expert Samuel Adkins with Marlo and Arian Zappley
Because Christion Zappley, 12, and Arian Zappley, 8, have different food preferences, Tonda Gridley, a registered dietician and nutritionist with Cabarrus Family Medicine-Concord, worked to help the family expand its menu. “[Marlo] already purchases healthy foods, which is wonderful,” says Gridley, “but I recommended the family visit a farmer’s market and each child plan one meal weekly with an open mind regarding trying what the other planned.”
The Crams were living healthy lifestyles already but wanted help preparing quick and healthy foods, and finding more fitness activities everyone could enjoy together.
“The first thing we did was help [Kathleen Cram] realize they were already doing a great job,” says Tara Branton, physician at Weddington Family Medicine. They worried others thought they were pushing physical activity at “too young” of an age. “Children are never too young to learn about fitness or be encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Branton.
Branton suggested fitness time with the Wii they own, Shaun T.’s T-25 program (25-minute program with varying intensity levels for different stages), or even having fun with jumping jacks during TV commercials.
Kelsey Knasel, a registered dietitian at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, suggested the Cram children choose their own produce to have ownership over mealtime. “We encouraged the family to make food preparation fun, such as cooking together or growing a garden. The Crams do a wonderful job at not forcing the children into eating healthy, but lead by example and provide them with healthy foods each child enjoys so that they can unknowingly make good decisions.”
Fitness expert Devan Kline discusses his plan for the Zappleys with Charlotte Parent editor Michele Huggins.
Devan Kline, founder and creator of Burn Bootcamp and MamaBurst, met with the Zappleys to get them started on the fitness part of the challenge. He gave Marlo Zappley his DVD, MamaBurst, and recommended that the family begin the 60 Day Summer Xelerator program. The program pushes for exercise three to six times per week. “It also calls for the ‘extra mile challenge,’ which is a simple task each day to keep the mind and body on fitness,” says Kline. “Some examples are to take the stairs instead of the elevator or do 25 push ups first thing in the morning.” Marlo Zappley and her children were very enthusiastic, motivated and ready to begin. A busy schedule, however, prevented Marlo Zappley from attending any of the bootcamp sessions.
Fitness and nutrition expert Chris Bryan worked with the Cram family. Based on the family’s goals he recommended they try a carb cycling food plan. “This is where they would eat high carbs on certain days and low carbs on other days, to help maximize fat loss,” says Bryan. Bryan also helped Chuck Cram try a new weight-lifting program at his local gym four to five days per week while the rest of the family enjoyed workouts together with online fitness videos after school a few times per week. Lastly, he stressed the importance of starting off each day with a healthy breakfast, which can greatly improve energy levels by mid-morning.
Experts Kelsey Knasel (left) Tara Branton (right) helped the Cram family stay on track.
“We are definitely making more [health] conscious decisions on a daily basis,” says Kathleen Cram of the results of the challenge. It paid off, since Chuck Cram has lost eight pounds and three inches, and Kathleen Cram lost three pounds and four inches. Scheduling healthy habits into a weekly plan ensures that the habits happen. The Crams make a weekly meal plan and grocery list every Saturday. The children share which activities they want to do most so things like bike riding, playground visit or soccer get added to the calendar.
“The challenging part of the [Fit Family Challenge] was the demands in scheduling and balance,” agrees Marlo Zappley, “but I have increased my workouts, enjoyed quality time with family, and [got] professional insight to help our family reach our fitness goals.
In speaking of obstacles, Kathleen Cram says, “The biggest challenge was trying to focus on the areas of healthy eating and fitness while taking care of all the other aspects of our lives, such as work and housekeeping. Obviously work obligations still needed to be met, but the housekeeping has not been at the top of the priority list during the challenge.”
Adding fitness activities and planning healthier meals does take up more time in an already busy life, as both of our spotlight families can attest. But having more energy, avoiding colds and illnesses, and living a longer, healthier life are positive outcomes of making healthy compromises.
Lisa Hassell is a freelance writer and former elementary school teacher who currently lives just outside Charlotte with her 5-year-old son. Writing this story motivated her to eat a few less M&Ms and get outside with her child more.
The Fit Family Challenge is in partnership with Coca-Cola and Carolinas HealthCare System. Find out more about how your family can join the Challenge, get healthy and win prizes.