Thirteen year old Daniel’s four weeks at Camp Jump Start have turned into much more than the pounds and inches he lost. They have turned into a roadmap to better health for Daniel and his entire family.
In his four week session this summer Daniel lost 17 pounds and 13 inches off of his body. His fitness improved as well. When he first arrived he ran a mile in 17:22 minutes but on the last day of camp he had shaved almost 5 minutes off his time. His confidence grew and his smile got bigger.
Once he returned home he could not wait to go clothes shopping for school. This year he would not have to shop in the husky department and could wear what his classmates were wearing without feeling fat. Well-fitted clothes also gave him a way to gauge when he was veering off course. His family vowed not to buy bigger clothes if the new clothes became tight, so when the clothes began to feel uncomfortable Daniel recognized that he had to up his commitment. He would have to exercise more and skip the foods that were causing the weight gain. The feel of how his clothes fit was a practical reminders and motivator to stay on course.
Daniel’s changes led to bigger changes at home; he was eager to share what he had learned. Daniel took the lead in helping his family make lifestyle changes. To be successful they would have to work together. Daniel was their role model and he inspired everyone around him because he had worked hard ant that hard work paid off in reaching his goal.
While this new way of living began at camp, his parents were serious about helping Daniel so they completed their own homework. They cleaned out all the junk food from the kitchen cabinets and bought smaller plates and tall, skinny glasses. They re-set their kitchen by replicating the Camp Jump Start system. They had prepped foods for quick meal assembly in the refrigerator. They bought measuring cups to keep the family honest with portion control. They centralized all electronics in their family room removing televisions and computers from the bedrooms. They also set up the charging station for cell phones in the family room so that no one slept with phones next to their bed any longer.
Daniel came home and helped meal plan. The family began making a shopping list before going to the store and then stuck to buying only the items on the shopping list. This saved them money. They would have 4 days worth of food with mainly fruits and vegetables readily available. This would mean an extra trip to the grocery store in a week but they were willing to make this habit change. It was a surprise when they became efficient at shopping and stopping for groceries became a quick trip saving them time for other activities. They would also prep the food once they returned home so that it was ready for busy nights. They had their own “fast food” always ready which really cut down on family stress. They began to realize that they had been over-scheduling the family with activities that really were not as important as their own family time.
Soda became a thing of the past in this household. Each family member had a water bottle that they took with them everywhere they traveled. The beverage of choice was always water with green tea a close second. When water became boring then they added some fruit or vegetables in it to add a little more flavor which can be refreshing. They no longer missed or craved the soda that they once automatically chose.
The family rule was three meals and one snack.
- Breakfast was always steel cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of milled flaxseeds and some berry on top. Soy milk was their dairy of choice.
- Every family member took a bag lunch to work or school which always included a salad. Instead of feeling like a freak, they became the example of healthy living. People began to copy them when they saw it was an easy switch to something that tasted good and was easy.
- Dinners always began with a soup or salad. The plate was covered in ½ cooked vegetables. They began slowly with one meal a week being meatless. As time went on and meal planning with new plant-based recipes was made easy then these meatless meals became more common. They had no idea how good it could all taste!
- That ONE snack either came from the fruit bowl after school or they all saved it for a dessert that they all shared following dinner.
- Special occasions-which the family defined together-allowed for an extra snack.
It was important that the body had time in between meals to rest and repair instead of constantly digesting food. Grazing became a thing of the past for Daniel’s family. They would all brush their teeth after dinner signaling that eating for the day was over. Then the body really had time to concentrate on time to heal itself.
Every Friday the entire family weighs themselves in front of each other before breakfast. They keep a chart hanging in the bathroom closet. This keeps them accountable to their new lifestyle. If they maintain their weight, they celebrate with mini-rewards from a goody bag containing small coupons for outings and family events that they had brainstormed together. The coupon might be redeemable for a pick a game night, a trip to the theatre or a park outing. All the coupons are family-based activities. If they lose more weight, they receive TWO coupons that week. The weigh ins evolved from seeming like a punishment to a time for anticipation with reward for hard work. The family also has a long term goal which includes a family get-away if they all maintain their success for a year.
Every day they track their activities on a family calendar.The rule is that no one goes to bed without having 10,000 steps listed on their pedometer. Sometimes that means climbing the basement steps over and over. They each decided out to fulfill their fitness requirements whether it meant going to the gym or playing on a sports or dance team. Steps were non-negotiable and everyone agreed to this. Peer pressure for not letting the family record slip was a great motivator because no one wanted to be known as the “slacker”.
Daniel has now lost 33 pounds total. He has no signs of heart disease or diabetes. He has energy and a newfound zest for life. He is looking forward to the school year instead of dreading it like so many overweight or obese kids do. He has friends. He has what all parents wish for their child-health and happiness.
To date, the family of four has lost a total of 112 pounds. They are feeling better than ever and are a tight knit family. They are enjoying life. Whenever they start to return to old habits, they simply have a family meeting at breakfast on Friday morning following weigh-in. They make a toast with their big glass of water in the tall, skinny glasses to health and happiness. They are immediately back on their healthy lifestyle roadmap and this one healthy choice will lead to other healthy choices throughout the day. They know that the only time you fail is when you quit trying and they committed to make today count.