McConnell fit family 'takes on' challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class John Linzmeier
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
A McConnell family is the first here to compete in the 4th annual national Triple Play Fit Family Challenge.

The competition challenges families across the U.S. to improve their mental, physical and spiritual health, and log their progress online at the end of each week.

"The Blairs have changed their diets, incorporated different family activities in their daily routines and most importantly, they have risen to the challenge and conquered the first round," said James Jolliff, 22nd Force Support Squadron Youth Center director.

The family of four is among the top 25 out of 200 families who made the second round, and are aiming to progress to the final tier, where the top five families will travel to Los Angeles, Calif.

Triple Play provides the contestants with different health-promoting suggestions each week. Some are simple, such as increasing their consumption of water while others may be more demanding, such as intensifying their work-out regimens.

"With our kids being so close together in age (8 and 10)," said 1st Lieutenant Scott Blair, 22nd Medical Group resource flight commander, "they like to push each other and correct their form when they are exercising. It's pretty cute to see your kids interacting with each other like that."

Their lifestyle changes have affected various aspects of their lives, including holiday traditions.

Rather than approaching Thanksgiving with their usual feast, Heather Blair, Scott's wife, said she is 'cooking-up' a healthy twist by preparing turkey-salad sandwiches for dinner with cranberry sides, sweet potatoes, and other healthy alternatives.

"It's teaching us that you don't have to always do the norm, you can shake things up a little," she added.

In the spirit of a changing lifestyle, the Blairs are also planning to share their holiday experience with others.

"We are looking to volunteer and help serve others for Thanksgiving instead of celebrating it by ourselves with a huge meal," said Heather.

Scott and Heather have also taught their kids how to read nutrition labels to make healthier food choices and improve their family's placement in the competition.

Competing has proven to be difficult for the Blairs at times, despite their positive results.

Weekly challenges grow more demanding as the contest progresses. Families are expected to participate in more productive activities such as house-cleaning and raking leaves, while also implementing fun activities.

"In a contest like this, you have to keep it fun and interesting," said Scott. "Even if you are doing the same routines, there's always a way to make it fun."

Scott and Heather attribute their motivation from their combined loss of 80 pounds since Scott's return from a deployment last year. Their children, on the other hand, are more enthusiastic about winning the trip to Los Angeles.

"It's not just about teaching our kids and ourselves how to improve their eating and exercise habits," said Heather, "it's about showing us how to support each other emotionally as a family unit."

The Blair family will be notified if they progress to the next round December 12. In either case, they have no plans to drop their pursuit toward a healthier lifestyle.

"As long as we continue to make these healthy choices, awards tend to follow," said Heather, "whether it's winning a trip to LA, feeling and looking better or coming together as a family."