Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Obesity in children has tripled in the last 20 years. America’s current generation is the first in our history expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Of the children born in the year 2000, one-third to one-half will develop type 2 diabetes. While not entirely to blame, the food our kids are given at school is not helping. Loaded with fat, processed grain, sugar, and salt and nearly absent fresh fruits and vegetables, current menus are anything but nutritious. If parents are trying their hardest at home to feed their children healthfully, does it make sense to undermine those efforts by having only poor options at school? On the flip side, if there is never anything decent for kids to eat at home, why not at least make good food available to them during school lunches? The battle against childhood obesity and chronic disease needs to start somewhere, and it makes sense for it to be at our schools.

The Child Nutrition Act is up for renewal in Congress, and now is the perfect time for an overhaul. A bill has been introduced, the Healthy School Meals Act, H.R. 4870, that would give incentives to schools that offer a plant-based (this means high-fiber) option to students at meal time. Eating high-fiber, naturally low-fat foods is one of the easiest ways to lose weight, and this legislation could be a first step to doing something meaningful in the fight against childhood obesity. To learn more about the bill, or to send your representative an email of support, go to

Or, call Congress today, at 202-224-3121. Ask the operator to direct you to your representative and senators, and tell them you support the Healthy School Meals Act, H.R. 4870.

For five easy steps regarding how you can do even more, go to

Let your voice be heard, whether it be for your kids, grand-kids, your community, or your country. There is no better time than now.

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Don’t Exercise and Neither Should You

When you were a kid, did you ever bug your parents to let you go outside and play? I did. My summers were filled with riding bikes, skateboarding, playing ball, and outdoor games with neighborhood friends. Wintertime meant sledding, ice hockey, snowball fights, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. These activities burned up an incredible amount of calories and they were all things I loved to do. I did them as much as I was allowed. Not once did I ever ask if I could go outside and exercise—I wanted to play.

Like most adults, as I got older I stopped playing. I also avoided the “e” word like the plague, because exercising wasn’t fun. Going to a gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights wasn’t like playing as a child. Before long, my scale started to show my lack of activity. Thoughts of having to exercise so many minutes on so many days per week, and guilt over not doing it, didn’t motivate me to stop the weight gain. Then I wised up. Burning calories has the same effect on the waistline whether or not I have fun doing it. I decided to stop exercising and start playing again.

Now, instead of making myself exercise, I use every opportunity to do the things I love. I mountain bike, trail run and hike near my home. When I travel, I always pack play clothes so I can run whether it is in Central Park or on the beach. On vacations, I walk the course when I play golf, take photos from the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or rent a bike so I can explore area trails. When I can’t play as much as I want, I feel disappointed, but never guilty. Just like when I was a kid, I look forward to playing everyday, so I make it a priority.

If you could play again what would you do? Here a few ideas to get you started:

• Take a class to learn to play. Learn how to do something you have always wanted to do, that requires being physically active – perhaps photography, plein air painting, dance, or yoga.

• Make play dates. Instead of meeting family or friends for lunch, get together at a trailhead or park and play together. Buy a pair of aluminum snowshoes so you can play in the winter too.

• Plan vacations around play. How many different National Park trails have you hiked, beautiful golf courses have you walked, or wild rivers have you fished?

• Fill free time with play. Instead of watching others play on TV, join organized groups that play regularly, whether it is bird watching or senior softball.

Whatever you do, don’t exercise. Just play and have fun, then watch the pounds melt away!

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.