Making Progress with the Fit Family Challenge: The Hamilton Family

The Fit Family Challenge began May 1, and we’re spotlighting two Triad families who have been challenged to work toward better health


Image by Micki Bare

Darlene Hamilton, 41, of Greensboro, owns Loving Care Home Health Care Services. She is a single mother to 9-year-old twin sons Cameron and Chase. Hamilton had gastric band surgery two years ago and has lost 70 pounds, but admits that she doesn’t like to exercise. Her goals include making lifelong changes to her family’s diet and making exercise fun.

An Update from the Hamiltons

“We’ve done two things to eat healthier. We no longer have chips in the house. The kids used to take snacks to school for the morning and after school, and those snacks would always be chips. Now we take three snacks — one for mornings at school, one for after school and one for the ride home. Using the calendar to schedule fitness and meal planning has been a great help. Any setbacks we have had with eating I can trace back to lack of planning,” says Hamilton.

“Cindy has helped my picky eater [Chase] try new things. One item on the plan was to try a new fruit or vegetable each week. I allow the kids to pick the new item we will try. I think that keeps them motivated to try something new because they were the ones who selected it. So far they have tried spaghetti squash, blackberries and cabbage.

“Their new favorite take-to-school snacks are kiwis and mandarin oranges. Chase still occasionally wants to eat out — it’s hard to break some bad habits.

“I have had great fun with Donna [Burick]. I’m learning better techniques for coping with stress, and that is a major goal for me. The breathing techniques have been great.

“A challenge with the life-coaching plan has been committing to no news or social media! I like to feel connected. It has been a challenge, but I have already been more productive.”

Expert Advice

Cindy Silver, Registered Dietitian: “Darlene’s twin boys are growing and really hungry when they get home from school and their after-school program. They’ve made nice progress here, as Darlene’s cutting a fruit or veggie ‘appetizer’ for the boys to nibble while she cooks an easy dinner. The boys are enjoying some new and interesting vegetables — spaghetti squash was a recent hit!

“There’s nicer progress with Darlene, who is making an effort to plan the upcoming week’s menus during the weekend. She has begun doing a ‘planned leftover meal’ on Monday or Tuesday where she saves Sunday’s dinner leftovers to serve when time is tight. Darlene is also planning and packing nutritious snacks for her boys to take to school. This helps them not be quite so hungry at the end of the day.

“The family continues to focus on eating out less often because it is expensive and not as nutritious. When they do get caught in an ‘eating out snag,’ Darlene is focusing on choosing a restaurant with healthier choices.”

Donna Burick, Life Coach: “As for Darlene’s action steps, the first thing we’re doing is having a day of no news to see if that helps reduce her stress. I also gave her some breathing techniques to help her feel more calm, focused and peaceful.

“The next goal was to learn how to create healthy boundaries with people in her life. I gave her some techniques on how to do that, such as having a clear, energetic boundary visualization. She is not doing anything work-related or stress-related while eating. And she also gets the opportunity to really use her five senses — touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight — while eating, so she really appreciates what it is that she’s eating.”

Julie Luther, Fitness Coach: “I met with Darlene, and we went over her strength and ab-training program, and she is coming to one of PurEnergy’s sculpt classes each week. She also filled out a May and June calendar and marked the days she and her boys are swimming together for their family fitness each week. Darlene is doing great!”

Join Us for the Fit Family Challenge

The Fit Family Challenge is a FREE healthy lifestyle program for families! We want to motivate families to get moving and create healthier lifestyles. Until June 26, participants will log their family’s physical activities and healthy habits in the Fit Family Challenge mobile-friendly Activity Tracker. The more activity you log, the more points you earn and the more chances you have to win fabulous prizes. Visit for details.

Anne Wooten Green is a freelance writer from Winston-Salem.

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