Fit Family Challenge: Fitness Tips

By Tara Hess

Make One Change at a Time

Sometimes, we feel like there are so many things we need to change, we feel overwhelmed and wind up changing nothing.

Start with one. Just one. And not the biggest or hardest thing either. Pick something that will allow you to taste success. This will give you the confidence to tackle other larger fitness goals.

Get one thing down solid then move onto the next, such as committing to a 15-minute walk every day, going to one group exercise class per week, or setting an earlier bedtime so you have the energy to conquer the day.

Set Realistic Goals  

If you haven’t exercised in over 10 years, don’t set a goal of running a half marathon by next month.

Maybe your first goal is to walk one mile a day. Make it non-negotiable. Just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, it just becomes part of your day.

Also remember the season of life you are in, and the ages of your children.

Get an Accountability Partner

Everybody needs accountability. Tell someone, anyone!

You don’t have to announce it on social media, but maybe to your spouse or close group of friends, just someone who will help keep you accountable.

Even better if this person is going to join you in this new habit.

It is so much easier to tackle hard things if you have a small circle of friends to support and encourage you.

Jennie Boyd familyThe Boyd Family

MEMBERS: Jennie, 42, Doug 46 / CHILDREN: Charlotte, 12, Kathleen, 10, Eleanor, 8

HOMETOWN: Lexington / SCHOOL: Charlotte (Edythe J. Hayes Middle), Kathleen and Eleanor (Athens-Chilesburg Elementary)

Every member of the Boyd family has been logging hours in the gym, and no one has any intention of slowing down.

All family members  have their own exercise plans – Jennie does plenty of cardio, Doug works on strengthening, and their girls focus on muscle tone and endurance.

Jennie said the initial goal was to get familiar with the gym and start laying a foundation to gradually increase their fitness levels.

“I am definitely feeling more comfortable in the gym,” she said. “We are starting small and will build into tougher exercises.”

The majority of meals in the home were already plant-based, but a major change in diet has been dramatically reducing sugar intake.

Sugar hasn’t been banned completely because something so strict, Jennie said, can often backfire and lead to binging on sweets when the opportunity arises.

“We used to have dessert every day,” she said. “We still have sweets on special occasions, but we say you can always have fruit for dessert.”

Summertime brings big changes to the daily schedule for the family. The girls are attending various camps and sports lessons, but Jennie wants to ensure that the summer includes time for special family activities that the girls choose.

“It’s hard to balance things I need to do with wanting to enjoy my time with the girls,” she said.

The plan is to make a “bucket list” where each child can add things they want to do together. These aren’t usually grand or expensive ideas, but surprisingly simple.

“They want things like to go on a long bike ride or get frozen yogurt,” she said.

“Last summer we really wanted to go to Mammoth Cave. Even though it’s just a couple hours away it can be hard to make it happen.”

By putting it down on paper, the family is more likely to complete the list instead of just leaving the idea up in the air.

Summer is short, but the Boyd Family is on track to make the most of it.


The Jackson Family

Rhonda Jackson familyMembers: Rhonda, 30 / Children: Victoria, 14, Larae, 12

Hometown: Lexington / School: Both girls attend Bryan Station Middle

The Jackson family has learned many moves in the gym so far, but one key lesson stands out: Just keep moving.

Rhonda and her daughters tackle every day by doing the best they can, even if their schedule allows only for a family walk and some at-home exercise.

“We’ve learned the most important thing is to keep moving even if you can’t get to the gym,” Rhonda said.

“Get to the park and walk or do some lunges or squats around the house.”

With summer break ahead, the family hopes to have time in the kitchen again.

Their meal plan is to start incorporating more vegetables into dinners.

For now, they have already made strides with the snacking habit.

“We have done better with healthy snacking,” Rhonda said.

“We made homemade granola together and we snacked on that instead of unhealthy choices.”

Her daughters have interests ranging from sports to orchestra, but Rhonda is committed to not over-committing their time anymore.

“We’ve made the goal to prioritize our time. We can’t be running around like crazy people,” she said.

The plan is to sit down and evaluate what activities each of the girls are interested in.

Learning to allot time wisely is a skill the girls will put into practice.

“They will have to learn that if you want to do this, it means you can’t do that,” Rhonda said.

“And think, ‘Do you prefer to do X over Y?’”

The Jackson’s are moving forward to their initial goals of daily fitness and healthy meal plans.

But by freeing up their schedules, Rhonda believes, those goals will be easier to meet.