Are you and your family planning to throw your diet and exercise routine out the window this holiday season? Or are you going to challenge yourselves to stick to it?
One overweight family in Parkville, Md., has volunteered to participate in "Good Morning America Weekend's" "Family Fitness Challenge" to lose weight over the next month. Shaequan "Shae" Edmonds, 17, and his mother Sherie Henry, 37, have struggled with obesity for many years. Now they are challenging themselves to lose 10 pounds over the holidays.
Family Fitness Challenge
This four-week "Family Fitness Challenge" started Monday, Dec. 14 and concludes Monday, Jan. 18. You can follow Sherie and Shae's progress by reading their weekly blog. They will update us on their weight, their successes and setbacks.
Sherie Henry: Mom age 37.
Starting weight: 298 pounds
Weight Loss Goal: 10 pounds
Shae Edmonds: Son, age 17
Starting weight: 201
Weight Loss Goal: 10 pounds
'Kid Fit Challenge' Champion Inspired Mom
Shae Edmonds, 17, is no stranger to weight loss challenges. This summer, he and two other overweight teens, Andrea "Poqui" Bergara, 13, of Austin, Texas, and Tori-Osha Lyas, 15, of Hattiesburg, Miss., attended an intensive weight loss camp where they exercised daily and followed a strict portion-control diet.
They all were trying to lose as much weight as they could in just three weeks, and Shae was the winner. He lost 10.1 percent of his body weight -- going from 227 pounds to 204 pounds.
Five months later, Shae has lost a few more pounds, and he is setting his sights on a higher goal for the next month. Shae said he weighs 201 pounds now and plans to lose 10 more by mid-January.
But Shae won't be doing this alone. His mom Sherie Henry will join in and challenge him.
Sherie has struggled with her weight for more than 10 years. She tried but lacked the willpower to lose weight until she saw Shae being crowned the "GMA" "Kid Fit Challenge" champion this summer.
"I actually cried when I first saw him," she said. "I was actually, like, 'Is that my son?' He inspired me to get on the right path. If my son can do it, I can do it!"
The day after her son came home with the "Kid Fit Challenge" trophy, Sherie decided to join a gym, started working out three times a week and began eating right. And her hard work is paying off. She has lost 19 pounds since the end of the summer, going from 317 pounds to 298 pounds.
Most important, she's putting her family on the right track to a healthy lifestyle.
"I feel strongly that the family that exercises together, the family that eats right together, if a parent can be a role model, that is the key to success," said Tony Sparber, director of the New Image Weight Loss Camp, where the "Kid Fit Challenge" took place last summer.
Diet and Exercise During the Holidays
Sherie and Shae both confess dieting and exercising during the holidays will be very tough.
"It's honestly going to be very hard," Sherie said. "I'm usually cooking, so I'm going to have to find some modifications for myself so I don't overeat. Things like pork, spare ribs, barbecue sauce, cakes and cookies -- my weakness! We eat a lot of those in my family. But not anymore!"
She'll exercise at least an hour a day three times a week, and will continue to count calories and stay away from chocolate, pasta and pastry. Shae will swim, work out at the gym as much as possible, and stay away from sweet and starchy food just like his mom.
"We both have to watch what we eat and exercise consistently, and not slack off any day we feel like it," Shae said with resolve.
Fortunately, this Family Fitness Challenge may serve as a timely motivator for both of them. Because America will be watching, New Image Weight Loss Camp's Sparber said, they're more likely to hold themselves accountable.
Mom and Son Will Motivate Each Other
While Sherie and Shae will push themselves and challenge each other not to veer off course during the tough holiday season, they don't see each other as competitors.
"It's not really a challenge, it's just being with my mother and helping her lose weight," Shae said.
For his mother, this is a brand-new adventure that she's looking forward to sharing with her son.
"I've never been in a weight loss challenge. I definitely want to do this more for him than myself. Everyone wants to win, I want to win, but the important thing is to encourage him to stay on the right path." Sherie said.
Holiday Time Is Fraught With Tasty Temptations
Sparber said a challenge like this can be tricky this time of year because many people tend to overeat and overdrink at family gatherings and holiday parties.
"Sherie strikes me as a very strong family individual," Sparber said. "She's close to her children and has an extended family. The question is, when the holidays come, are those people gonna give her the support? Or are they gonna say, 'Come on, Sherie, have a drink, have a piece of cake. Come on, it's Christmas, it's New Year's.'"
Fitness Tips for the Holidays
1. Moderation and Portion Control
No need to eat differently than everyone else. It's about how much you eat, not what you eat. You can have a Christmas cookie -- but have one, not five. You can have the ham with all the trimmings, but one slice and small portions of the sides. NO SECONDS. Stay away from empty calories like soda and bread. If you exercise portion control, you will be fine. And don't forget to drink lots of water.
Even if it's just going for a one-hour walk around the neighborhood, make exercise a priority. Nothing will counteract the holiday foods better then getting out there and doing something at least five times a week. Holiday activities such as ice skating, sledding and skiing are all great. Many people wind up just laying on the couch watching movies. This is when the weight starts piling on.
3. Realistic Expectations
Losing weight during the holidays is obviously going to be extremely tough. My goal would be to maintain and not put on weight like the average person. If you can stay the same weight over Christmas and New Year's, you are way ahead of the game. I also recommend getting weighed in on a daily basis during this time of year so you don't wake up one day after eating everything in sight for a week and see you gained 10 pounds.