There's a war on. No, not that one. This one hits even closer to home-in our kitchens, at our dining-room tables, down at the diner, in the drive-thru lanes-and it's a struggle for our very lives.
You've heard the statistics. Nearly two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight. A third of our children have followed that example. Complications from all this fat will soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of early death. "Most families live in a nutritional environment that can best be described as toxic," says David L. Katz, M.D., a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and public health at the Yale University school of medicine and the author of The Way to Eat.
"It's not their fault-they're just following the path of least resistance."
And who can blame them? According to one survey, family leisure time has shrunk by 37 percent since the 1970s. Tired, stressed, and run ragged, families like the Reeveses, of Crete, Nebraska, a small town of 6,000 just outside of Lincoln, aren't ignoring the get-lean message; they just don't have the time and resources to figure out a way to make a healthy lifestyle work for them. As John Reeves, the family patriarch, put it in his entry in the "Win a New Life for Your Family" contest Men's Health sponsored earlier this year, "We aren't idiots, and we know that there isn't a magic pill to make our troubles go away. We are just a busy family who need some guidance and help."
So that's exactly what Men's Health set out to supply. Armed with the expertise of strength coach Charles Staley, C.S.C.S., and nutritionist Heidi Skolnik, we scheduled a daylong intervention in which we presented the Reeves tribe with a challenge: We'll give you the strategies and tools you need to remake your lives; you give us your best shot.
"Knowledge creates a shell of health around your family-it can defend you for life," Dr. Katz says. "You can live within a safe nutrition environment. And once you get there, it doesn't take a lot of effort to stay."
The Reeveses just became residents. When are you moving in?
Meet the Family...
John Reeves (The Big Daddy)
Weight: 300 lb
John, who works as general manager of the Crete News, has always liked being, as he terms it, "the Hoss Cartwright type." He enjoys eating. A lot. To stem the fat tide, he lifts weights 4 days a week and plays golf regularly. But it isn't enough. Goal: "I want to learn some balance and be healthier as I get older."
MaryEllen Reeves (The Ex-Athlete)
Weight: 180 lb
MaryEllen was an all-state volleyball player back in high school. But over the years, she lost her love of athleticism, and pounds crept on. The hectic family schedule leaves her feeling deflated. "Our situation feels very out of control." Goal: "I need a fitness routine I can manage."
Luke Reeves (The Not-So-Big Brother)
Weight: 150 lb
In Cornhusker country, the pigskin is king, and Luke is a loyal subject. To improve his game, he's trying to expand his lanky frame with weight lifting and protein shakes. When he's not on the gridiron, he's likely to be found on the basketball court. Goal: "I want to put on weight for football."
Ryne Reeves (The Not-So-Little Brother)
Weight: 180 lb
Ryne, who has his dad's solid build, is just as athletic as Luke, playing football, baseball, and basketball. He doesn't mind trying new things, but admits, "Eating pizza is more appealing than eating tofu." Goal: "I want to cut the fat so I can run faster, jump higher, and be stronger."
Blaze (The Way-Too-Big Dog)
Weight: 80 lb
After the Reeveses brought him home from the Humane Society, Blaze gradually went from foxy to boxy. He's 25 pounds overweight, thanks to frequent table-scrap feedings. But if Blaze doesn't drop a third of his weight, this dog's life is going to end sooner than scheduled. Goal: "Look, a squirrel!"