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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mother, daughter buddy up for fitness

Reader poll: Fat or fired? Would you rather be unemployed or gain 50 pounds?

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Tish Young, left, and her daughter Megan hele down Hele Street near their Kailua home as part of their new fitness activities.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Age: 51

Profession: Co-owner of Robb Young's Fine Woodworking in Halawa

Residence: Kailua

Stays in shape by: Using the NordicTrack, doing resistance work, weight training and walking

Achievement: So far, she's lost 47 pounds in six months.

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Tish Young

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Age: 23

Profession: Account coordinator at Laird Christianson Harris Advertising Inc.

Residence: Kailua

Stays in shape by: Using the NordicTrack, doing resistance work, weight training, walking, hiking

Achievement: So far, she's lost 30 pounds in six months.

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Megan Young

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Workout habits: NordicTrack for a half-hour and resistance training for about 10 minutes every day. Several times a week she walks around her Kailua neighborhood.

Why she started working out: Working and raising children put the former college volleyball player's fitness on the back burner. She recommitted to losing weight with her daughter last November.

Good foods: Vegetables, and Tish's fresh fruit smoothies.

Bad foods: "Anything sweet," she said. "And I mean chocolate. I'm a woman, so it's chocolate. It's the law."

Biggest motivator: Her daughter.

Biggest challenge: Getting started.

What saves her sanity: "Knowing that the worst is over," she said.

Next challenge: To lose 10 to 12 more pounds.

Advice for those in the same boat: "Don't get discouraged," Tish said. "It does work if you stick to it."


Workout habits: NordicTrack five days a week for about 20 minutes, weight training four times a week for about 20 minutes, walking two to three days a week for about a mile.

Why she started working out: Megan grew up playing soccer, but didn't maintain an active lifestyle in college. She didn't exercise regularly until six months ago.

Good foods: Salads, peanut butter and chocolate Skinny Cow ice cream treats.

Bad foods: Cheesecake and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.

Biggest motivator: Her mom. "I've never seen her look better. She's happier and she looks younger and it's just great."

Biggest challenge: Finding healthy options when eating out and resisting the temptation to snack. She brings her own healthy snacks bag of carrots or cereal to work.

What saves her sanity: "Remember how far I have come."

Next challenge: To lose five to 10 more pounds.

Advice for those in the same boat: "Just do it!"

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Megan Young, left, and her mother prepare smoothies together, one of the healthy ways they have been eating lately.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Fitness magazine polled 1,007 people about weight and body issues. Here are some findings, which will be released in its June issue:

  • 63 percent of women and 55 percent of men say they'd rather be poor with no extra pounds than rich and substantially overweight.

  • 75 percent of men and 80 percent of women say they wouldn't give up 20 IQ points to gain the perfect body.

  • 27 percent of women say they'd rather get their wisdom teeth pulled than shop for swimsuits.

  • 36 percent of women and 48 percent of men say their abdominal muscles are the body part they would most like to change.

  • 42 percent of men and 27 percent of women say their arms are the body part they are happiest with. And 24 percent of women and 12 percent of men are happy with their backsides.

  • 24 percent of women say they've avoided sex because they felt uncomfortable about their body.

    Source: USA Today

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    Last year, Megan Young came home from college with a degree in public relations and marketing and a few extra pounds.

    Her mother, Tish, had also accumulated unwanted padding. So she made a pact with her daughter: they'd lose the weight together.

    "It was time to get into shape," said Megan, 23, an account coordinator at Laird Christianson Harris Advertising Inc. "For my mom and I, we needed to reach that point where it was just time to take it seriously. And we did."

    Megan wanted to drop about 40 pounds. Tish wanted to lose about 50 pounds. They knew that they needed motivation it was hard enough just deciding to lose the weight.

    It took Tish and Megan six months from the time they made that decision to actually doing something about it.

    A week before Thanksgiving, worried about packing on the pounds over the holidays, the pair signed up with Weight Watchers. But it's their tag-team approach that has really kept them on track.

    "Support is really important," said Tish, 51, co-owner of Robb Young's Fine Woodworking. "We encourage us not to be discouraged. When I get on the scale, Megan is just biting her fingernails. She's so excited for me. And vice versa."

    So far, they've lost a combined 77 pounds.

    "It blows my mind," Tish said.


    It's not uncommon that daughters pick up their mothers' eating and workout habits, said Linda Giles of Weight Watchers in Hawai'i.

    In fact, positive role-modeling by mothers is one of the best ways to foster healthy habits in children.

    "What works isn't telling your children what to do," said Giles, a mother of two. "It's living it and showing them what to do and allowing them to make choices for themselves."

    That can make mothers and daughters strong allies in the battle to lose weight.

    "Mothers and daughters teaming up to lose weight can provide a powerful and successful support system," Giles said.

    Dropping the pounds wasn't easy for either Tish or Megan, and the strategy worked for them.

    "We encourage one another and keep each other motivated," Tish said. Plus, she added, "Since we enjoy each other's company, getting to have one-on-one time together is always a bonus."

    Instead of using Weight Watchers' popular points-based plan, Tish and Megan chose the Core Plan, which provided them with a list of foods they could eat without counting calories.

    Their diets, they both realized, needed a serious overhaul.

    Tish, who works in Halawa, would often stop at Ani's Bake Shop for a doughnut. And she couldn't resist anyone selling cookies.

    Like her mother, Megan loves sweets, particularly cheesecake and rich ice cream.

    They both knew their eating habits had to change and fast.

    Luckily for them, they have a great cook in the house: dad Robb.

    He whips up healthy dinners for his wife and daughter, finding inventive ways to lighten up their favorite dishes.

    For example, Robb makes garlic mashed potatoes with chicken broth and nonfat milk, and makes a yellow cake with applesauce and nonfat vanilla pudding.

    "Oh, I scored big," Tish raved about her husband's cooking skills. "I thank God for him every day."

    In addition to eating better, the two had to start working out.

    They dusted off literally the NordicTrack that sat in a spare bedroom in their Kailua home and got moving. They use the exercise machine Tish every day, Megan five times a week for about 30 minutes. And they walk around the neighborhood together before dinner most nights for about half an hour.

    Being each other's whip-crackers has helped them stay consistent. "When I don't want to exercise or I'm lazy, she'll kick me in the butt to do it, in a good way," Megan said. "So that at the end of the day I can feel OK about having that Skinny Cow (ice cream treat)."


    Even though Tish grew up playing sports in Los Angeles she moved to Hawai'i in 1973 to play volleyball for Chaminade University she struggled with her weight.

    And after college, working out slid down her priority list.

    "Once I had kids, my whole focus changed," said Tish, who also has a 21-year-old son, Daniel. "I'd try to lose weight, then I'd gain it back. I did the yo-yo thing, kind of like everybody else. I was just always fighting the weight."

    Two years ago, Tish had her thyroid removed, prompting her to quit smoking, a habit she picked up in high school. The pounds piled on.

    "By the time I got to Megan's graduation (from Chapman University in May 2005), I was huge," she said. "It was the heaviest I had ever been."

    That took an emotional toll. She didn't even like to walk around her neighborhood for fear of running into someone she knew.

    "I just did not feel good about myself," she said. "I didn't want to go out and buy new clothes."

    Megan headed down a similar path. Though she rode her bike around campus in college, she never committed to regular workouts or made healthy choices.

    "I never worried about stuff like that," Megan said. "I was more eating for convenience and going out with friends. I didn't sit down and make healthy meals. I was too busy with other things."

    She felt self-conscious about her body, too, hiding beneath sweatshirts and jeans.

    Now that they've dropped the extra pounds, Tish and Megan feel as good as they look.

    "I feel a lot of difference," Tish said. "My energy level is better and by doing exercise I'm more limber. I can bend over and pick something up ... And when I do see myself, I'm, like, 'That looks alright. I can live with that.' "

    Megan, who now wears skirts, is excited about her upcoming visit back to Orange County to see classmates, who haven't seen her in a year. And though this vacation will undoubtedly call for celebration dinners and drinks, she's confident that she'll make smart choices this time.

    "It will always be in the back of my mind how far I've come," Megan said. "I'm not going to blow it all in a week."

    • • •


    Research has shown the success rate of those trying to make lifestyle changes is twice as high when they've got someone to support them. And that support could come from anyone. A friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a mother or daughter.

    Granted, not all mother-daughter relationships are ideal for a weight-loss buddy system, but here are tips:

    • Know what kind of support is needed: Does she need you to be verbally encouraging? Or does she want you to accompany her in her weight-loss journey? "Support can be very tricky, especially when it comes to mothers and daughters," said Linda Giles of Weight Watchers in Hawai'i. "Support for one person can look like harassment for another." She recommends that mothers and daughters communicate exactly what kind of support they need.

    • Set realistic goals: You can't change your lifestyle overnight. So start small. "Mothers like to push their daughters," Giles said. "So we need to be very careful about setting realistic goals."

    • Be supportive, not demanding: Don't nag or be controlling. Offer suggestions or be encouraging — without trying to take over. "Instead of saying, 'OK, we're going to exercise,' say, 'I'm going for a walk in a half an hour. I'd love for you to come along,' " Giles said.

    • Love unconditionally: No matter what, Giles said, mothers and daughters should show unconditional love for one another. "Nothing about their weight or health hinges on what the number on the scale says or what their bodies look like," Giles said. "As a woman, you know it's important to feel good in your body so (tell them) if they ever want support, you'll be there."

    — Catherine E. Toth

    Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.