Tri Challenge: Fitness becomes a family affair
Dr. Scott Zahn and his family, before he became a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. Zahn now weighs under 200lbs. for the first time in more than 20 years.
July 8th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Fitness becomes a family affair

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

When this whole process started, I said I wanted to do the Tri Challenge for me, for my patients and for my family. A perfect example of how the decision has led to changes in my life and changes for my family happened on the Fourth of July.

The Fox Firecracker 5K is run in Kaukana, WI every year on July 4th. None of us have ever participated in it even though it has been going on for years. My wife and I decided that the whole family should do it. Amazingly, everyone agreed.

It was an early start as we had about a 30 minute drive to get to the race. The kids were already tired from swimming and tubing for 8 hours the previous day. Once we arrived the excitement built. Skydivers, the University of Wisconsin Marching Band and the kids-only run got everyone energized for the race. My nine-year old, Owen, looked the most tired but he was ready to go and wanted to run all by himself. Ava, age 4, was sitting comfortably in the stroller waiting to be pushed the 3.1 miles by my wife, Missy, who is finally starting to feel better while running after knee surgery in February. Greta, 12, is not a big fan of running, but was excited to walk with her best friends. This was her first run/walk.

The gun went off and we all started. We went at our own pace and everyone finished with a smile on their face. After the race we talked about how hilly the course was, how it was cool to see the band along the run, how many sprinklers we ran through and the goofy outfits we saw people wearing. Owen has now run as many races as his 46-year-old father! We celebrated with apple pie, pizza and chocolate chips cookies. As they say, a good time was had by all.

I’m so proud of my family for supporting me and being part of this journey. They have inspired me to stay fit and healthy and I look forward to having many more events like this in the future.

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. TriHardStasia

    That's awesome, Scott! now I want cookies 🙂

    July 8, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bigbones

    I'm the only one in my house over weight an I cook healthy food all the time I even eat more fruit then the rest of my family because I quit chips an cookies 2 years ago an I'm still 260 lbs

    July 9, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The_Mick

      bigBones – if you haven't done it, do an active exercise for a LONG time to get your body to respond to the need to step-up its metabolism. Walk for at LEAST 40 min, bicycle or swim at least 20, run at least 15 – the more muscles involved the less time needed. Exercising for LESS than that, research shows, leads to that state where people say, "I have a slow metabolism."

      July 11, 2011 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Stef

    Family– the best support for winning your personal race. I haven't gotten my hubby involved yet, but his ever-present side line cheers and support in finding me what's best for my next goal is beyond valuable. COngrats to your family!

    July 9, 2011 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Baptiste

    Why wasting a nice family work-out with such food???

    July 11, 2011 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Vick

    Good for them, I hope the rest of inactive America catches on!

    July 11, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      "rest of America"? Speak for yourself, fatso................besides, these people are from Wisconsin, they all look like the above picture up there!

      July 11, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
  6. HealthyMom

    They set a great example for families working out together to reach a common goal!
    Anyone looking for a healthful snack should check out Gudernoobs made by WooHoo Foods!

    July 11, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Missy

    Valerie- why so mean and nasty?!? My husband has worked very hard to get healthy for himself and us. Are you so unhappy with yourself that you would feel the need to be so negative about someone else's accomplishments? I am the mom/wife in that above picture, and I AM speaking for myself to address your ignorance about us "fatsos" here in WI... I have exercised my entire life, playing several sports and running numerous half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. I do Pilates, the elliptical, bike, lift weights, basically working out 6-7 days a week. Most of my friends and family are the same-leading a very active lifestyle and not overweight by a longshot. I admit I was not happy with the picture my husband selected- I know it doesn't do me justice. I am 5'10 inches and under my recommended weight. But guess you just have to take my happy/healthy word for it!

    July 11, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lisa

      Missh – thanks for replying to Valerie – you said everything that I wanted to say about the negative remarks. I've been teaching aerobics 4x/week for 7 years and recently started running (last year). It is never easy to get the weight off but people like your husband are in inspiration and go to show that it is never too late to get healthy. Good luck on all your family's races.

      July 11, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse |
  8. Mickey

    So they all walk, or move slowly for 3.1 miles, then eat pie, pizza, and cookies. This hardly qualifies as a fitness worthy article. It should read; Family does minimal exercise reccommended in order to get to the food.

    July 11, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meredith

      I'm with Missy on this one.

      These are kids – what kid doesn't deserve some pizza every once in a while? Especially on the 4th of July! They got up early, on a holiday, in support of their dad and ran/jogged/walked/GOT MOVING for 3 miles. They celebrated with a treat after! Judging by the fact that they look like healthy, happy children, I'm sure they don't eat like this 3 times a day/7 days a week. Not to mention, any doctor will tell you – the key to sticking with a diet is moderation – not depriving yourself of things you love. And if that's splurging with a little pizza on the 4th of July – have at it!

      As for a "fitness worthy artical" – why not? This is a BLOG about one man's road to a healthier lifestyle. If he wants to throw in a story about working out with his family – so be it. He's down 20 pounds, training for a triathalon, clearly he's on the right track.

      Missy – kudos to you and your family. You all look wonderful and your husband's story is an inspiration for those hoping to get in shape as well as those looking to bond with a family.

      July 12, 2011 at 08:49 | Report abuse |
  9. Missy

    Ok Mickey- now I feel the need to also respond to you and your counter-productive comments. For your information I RAN the 3.1 miles, pushing my 4 yr old in the stroller the whole way-and not eating a bite after. My husband finished the 5K in 27 minutes- hardly a slow walk. My children also ran/walked the entire race. Perhaps you should spend less time on your computer tearing people down and get out there and run yourself- maybe it would burn off some of your negative energy.

    July 11, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baptiste

      @ Missy,
      Congrats you and your family running this 5K and inspiring your nation by this family "road to a healthier life". However I am a bit like Mickey (just a bit, I don't really like the writing I have to say)...
      Even if I think that your accomplishment is wonderful, the way has to be ran until the end. Please next time try to organize a healthier celebration with fruits, vegetables and so...they are as good as cookies and pizzas! If you eat more kcal than you spent running it doesn't worth it right?
      Doing sport is good for health and it actually defines a new life style.

      I am sure your husband will do it and he is inspiring lots of people as your whole family.

      July 12, 2011 at 04:55 | Report abuse |
    • Jing


      There are bound to be negative comments wherever you go. To put your family in the public eye (CNN) people will have jugdments good or bed. If you can't deal with negative comments you should not have put your family in the public eye (CNN) !!! So deal with it!

      Your family is inspirational. However the hardest part is to KEEP MOTIVATED. I hope you and your family continues to stay active and motivated! 🙂 Best of luck.

      July 12, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
  10. LS

    Great article! I love that the whole family was able to get involved. I work out solo most of the time (except for the occassional bike ride with my son). This article inspired me to make it a family affair more. Great work guys!

    July 12, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Amanda

    @Missy. Girl I am right there with you. Ignore Jing, you're a mom and if someone say a negative thing about your babies, you defend them. I am a pretty new mother myself and people always tell me how chubby my son is. My son is not chubby, he is extra tall for his age, but he is very lean. My husband and I are both former Marines, so exercise is part of our daily lifestyle and we can only hope to pass it on to our son. As for the celebration food after the race, who cares? It was a holiday and the kids are young and still have the metabolism that allows them to eat such things once in a while. However, as adults we have to know how to outweigh the calories with exercise. Your husband is just starting to try to get healthy, nobody can expect him to be perfect. The one thing you definitely have going for you is living in Wisconsin. During the winter your body works overtime to keep itself warm (I'm from Madision) so there's a few calories right there. Good luck to you and your beautiful family Missy!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. szahn34

    The point of this blog was to show how we all did something fit together. That is something that we had never done before. Did we have pizza after? Sure, one slice. It doesn't matter if we walked around the block, ran a 5K or did a marathon. We had a good time and will do it again.

    Obviously I need to get a new family photo. The one above is before I started this challenge. I am down 60 pounds from that picture and my wife is more fit and healthy since then. The support of my family and getting them involved has been a huge benefit for me. I am proud of my accomplishments and the things that my family is doing to be fit and healthy.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baptiste

      Be sure that this is not a question about the pic 😉
      Let's post some photos from time to time but don't focus on that.

      Focus on what is important: be healthy again, inspire your community and do this $%%"# Nautica

      July 13, 2011 at 04:39 | Report abuse |
  13. Missy

    I tend to agree with baptiste as well-that's why I personally didn't indulge 🙂 I don't need to sabotage all my hard work. However it was race sponsored food AND a holiday celebration, so I had no problem letting my active kids "enjoy the moment" a bit after their accomplishment. I also agree that being on CNN we are open to others' comments and opinions. In this day and age everyone gets a forum. I get that and will "deal with it" the best way I know how- by replying when I see the need. Thanks for the positive comments and support.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Aimee

    @Valerie, Baptiste, and Mickey- shame on you and your negative comments. FYI, 72 million people in the U.S. are obese, not just Wisconsin, the U.S. I cannot understand why anyone would say such negative things about a family trying to be active and healthy. It's amazing to see how much Scott has changed in the last year, not just with the weight loss, but eating habits as well. Missy, good for you for saying something! The picture above does not do your family justice, post a new one! Congrats to the whole family, you are an inspiration to others.

    July 12, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baptiste

      @ aimee. Please forgive me... I am very ashamed of not thinking the same as you are... I do support everybody who is doing everything to get back to a healthier life. I didn't know that it was forbidden on this blog to post comments that, excuse me, are not negative, but underlining things that looks "strange" from my point of view. This is just a point of view and I am always trying to be respectful in my writing... Yes, for me celebrating a race with a slice of Pizza and cookies is strange (well I admit I forgot about the 4th of July...). Even if I do eat Pizzas and cookies myself...

      July 13, 2011 at 04:50 | Report abuse |
  15. Betty

    valerie you disgust me, i cant believe that you would have the nerve to tear down someone after what GREAT accomplishments they have. obviously, scott is doing the right thing, because he has lost 60+ pounds, and is under 200 for the first time in a long time. also, i cant believe that you think that everyone in wisconsin is overweight. i bet that wherever you live, there is a large majority of overweight people. i bet you are somewhat overweight yourself even.

    July 12, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Corey Kunzer

    Scott and your family – congratulations. I was at the race and it was an amazing environment! To get your entire family up on the 4th of July and get to a race at 8am on everyone's day off is an accomplishment. Your children had so much fun... We all know and we are all very proud of all your hard work. I am especially proud of the support that your entire family has given you along the process – that is the best way to succeed. By the way, I also ran the race – average 6 minute/ mile pace and then ate pizza too! It was a great the 4th of July. Thank you Tri Foxes for putting on a great race! -Corey Kunzer

    July 12, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Another Zahn

    In being a part of Scott's family, I know i can speak for his whole family and say we are more than proud of his accomplishments and what a great influence he is in the life of his children and others! It is amazing to see how far he has come! Hopefully, those people such as Valerie above will find something else to do besides shame others for their hard work...Keep working hard Scott and we can't wait to see you in New York!!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. angela

    Congratulations Scott! You're doing awesome and should be very proud of yourself! Be even more proud when you have people criticizing you. This kind of criticism usually means you are doing something others wouldn't be brave or disciplined enough to do for themselves! Realistic lifestyle changes don't ever include completely depriving yourself from pizza, cookies, etc. It's just not realistic; and deprivation usually only opens doors for a fallout into unhealthy habits. But I'm not going to give in and argue those people who are just ignorant of reality. 😉 The bottom line is you're doing great! And you're setting a great example in your family too. Good luck in your triathlon next month! I'll be excited to hear from M&B how it goes! Congrats!

    July 20, 2011 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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