BY SARAH FEDELE
Not quite The Brady Bunch or Cheaper By the Dozen, but when Christie and Bryan met and fell in love, they created a Blended family that was truly movie-worthy. Four years ago, they married and brought together their two families to make what Christie and Bryan Martin of Winston-Salem lovingly call “the clan.” Bryan brought Ashley (age 18) and Justin (age 11) and Christie brought Kyle (age 18), Zachary (age 17) and Max (age 11) into their new lives together.
Christie and her “clan” are the winners of the “My Cart is Why” Family Health Challenge with the American Heart Association and Forsyth County Life is Why Sponsor Novant Health. They have won a heart-healthy grocery shopping tour with a Novant Health registered dietician and a $100 gift card for free groceries!
Christie is the Director of Member Services at Homestead Hills Retirement Community in Winston-Salem. “I have the best job—I get to have fun and play all day,” says Christie.
However, in February of 2016, playing got harder to do. “I was always in good shape before, but I had recently let myself go. I was having chest pains, and my knees always hurt. I had an emotional meltdown and decided that I had to make a change,” shares Christie. “I give the credit for my healthy turnaround to Blue Sky, outside of all the hard work—that was mine!”
Christie was 201 lbs. and she set her goal to get down to 160. With health and nutritional coaching and daily exercise, Christie has lost 46 lbs. in seven months and has been able to keep it off. “Now I am very happy,” she shares. “I feel so much healthier. My knees don’t hurt. The pains in my chest are gone. My metabolism is much faster. My energy level is up. I can go up and down all the stairs I need to and not feel out of breath.”
When women change their grocery shopping and cooking habits, they often bring their families along for the healthy ride. Christie’s husband, Bryan, had lost his father to heart issues. “When I decided to make a change, Bryan was right there with me. He has even lost some weight with me,” says Christie.
“I started out because I had to do it for me,” shares Christie. “Over time, everyone in the family has gradually adjusted to healthy shopping and eating.” “We have Justin on the weekends, and he is willing to try anything healthy we cook. He is big into fitness and wants to be healthy,” says Christie.
Max will not eat his mom’s favorite healthful recipe, Pepper Pizzas, but has really come around to trying healthier foods. “Mom, can we have the Brussels sprouts?” and, “Making this zucchini pasta is fun!” are just a few comments from Max that make Christie smile.
Zack is now out on his own and is opening up to cooking healthy at his own home. The “Hey Mom—that grilled chicken and [those] turkey burgers are not looking so bad anymore” statement makes Christie proud.
Kyle is out on his own also, and though he is making his own food decisions, he respects what he can bring into the house when he comes. Donuts for dessert—no, nice try, Kyle!
Ashley is also now out living on her own and Christie and Ashley share tips on cooking and eating healthier together.
“My journey is about overall health and happiness, and I’m so happy that our clan is getting healthier habits, too,” says Christie. “It is not easy, and it doesn’t stop when you reach your goal weight. It is a fight every day, but I am so much healthier and so much happier. It is worth the fight!”
Christie’s Tips to help you and your family shop, cook, and eat healthier:
- Buy fresh veggies and fruits—stay away from the frozen food.
- Don’t allow desserts in the house.
- Stick to the grocery list. (And don’t go when you are hungry!)
- Read food labels at the store. (I look at carbs, calories, protein, and sugars.)
- Take in more protein than you do carbs every day to help get rid of stubborn belly fat.
- When shopping with the kids and they ask for unhealthy snacks or desserts, don’t say “No,” but ask them, “Is there a better choice we could make?” (My kids love sugar-free ice pops, and cheese sticks are a house favorite!)
- Say YES to spices!!! No calories and full of flavor. Allow yourself to go spice crazy!
- When eating out, you can order grilled chicken (pretty safe) and ask for things on the side to help manage sauces and extras.
- This is a big one! When you are eating out at a restaurant, ask for a take- home container at the same time you order your meal. As soon as your meal comes, immediately put half your meal into the doggie bag.
Christie’s Favorite Pepper Pizzas:
Take different colored large peppers,
Cut them into 3 pieces each.
Add a small amount of tomato sauce (low-sodium if possible);
Choose your favorite healthy cheese;
Garnish with diced peppers or other veggies for color and texture.
Get the family together and ENJOY!