Archive for the 'Health and Nutrition' Category
The video below features a presentation by South Bronx teacher Stephen Ritz. Throughout the speech, Ritz is both passionate and comical as he explains a program that started within his school. His classroom created the first indoor, edible wall. With the help of students and the local community, his program has already produced over 25,000 pounds of fresh vegetables.
His presentation makes for an entertaining video that is well worth a look. I’m not sharing it with hopes that everyone creates an edible wall (although that would be nice). Instead, my reasons for sharing the video are to highlight the passion of a man who took it upon himself to better his community.
Stephen Ritz is a real life example of the powerful quote listed at the bottom of this entry. His idea has already grown exponentially, perhaps even faster than his vegetables. His passion couldn’t be more real or powerful. Fortunately, it is also something that we can all possess. Once you find what you are passionate about, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. No one can save the world, but we all have the ability to positively impact the lives of others in some way.
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. – Edward Everett Hale1 comment
In a recent post, I discussed the significance of leading from the front (see here). Children imitate their parents so it is important that we are positive role models to them. As I’ve mentioned before, my children love coming to the gym. They enjoy mimicking what they see me do. They have become mini gym rats because that is the only life they’ve ever known. Living an active life has certainly sparked a similar interest in my children.
Setting a positive example is not enough however. As parents, we must also enable our kids to find something that they enjoy. Leading from the front is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough to do what you enjoy while hoping that your children hop on board and follow suit. Kids need the opportunity to enjoy their own activities, rather than always copying what we do.
Unfortunately, many parents become too busy with their own lives to make time for extracurricular activities for their children. As an active parent in the community, I am used to seeing the same kids at all of the local events. Meanwhile, there are loads of kids who remain home without the opportunity to participate.
Being a parent means sacrificing your time for your children. We are all busy in today’s world. A busy lifestyle isn’t an excuse. Many of us work long hours. I am well aware of the challenges that parents encounter trying to balance their schedules with those of multiple children. It isn’t always easy, and there are many times when it seems like we (the parents) have a million things going on at once.
Yet despite the often clashing and hectic schedules, there is nothing better than watching your child have an opportunity to compete in an event that they enjoy. Earlier this week, my son (pictured above) participated in a track and field challenge that has been hosted annually for the last 14 years. He won first place in the 400 meter race.
In the two days since, he can’t stop talking about it. All he wants to do is race again. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find another event in the area next month. Now my son is asking how to train for the upcoming race. I wouldn’t trade that excitement for anything in the world.
My kids cannot find these events on their own however. They don’t read the newspaper or browse the web. It’s up to the parents to find activities that their children can participate in. My kids have played baseball, soccer, track, gymnastics, etc. I give them the chance to try whatever they like. I am not pushing them to follow my interest in boxing. I want them to find what they enjoy.
Unfortunately, kids won’t know what they enjoy if they aren’t given the opportunity to participate. While my children are out playing sports, plenty of others are at home sitting in front of the television. Upon speaking with one of the local race directors, she mentioned how participation has declined steadily over the years. Fewer kids come out to participate in these free community events. She was adamant that more and more kids sit in front of the television rather than playing outside.
Research tends to support her observations. One recent study found that children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years were exposed to an average of 232.2 minutes of background television per day. That’s almost 4 hours a day!
Parents need to stop being so lazy. Don’t use the television as a distraction to keep your child occupied. Doing so does nothing for their development. Kids need the opportunity to get outside and explore the world around. Not every child needs to be an athlete, but at least give them the opportunity to participate. Children involved in sports learn valuable lessons about teamwork, competition, discipline, and respect. The kids also have fun!
As a coach in the town, I can say with certainty that most kids enjoy playing sports. I always have kids who want to stay after practice. The kids want to be there. More parents need to step up and enable their children to participate. Regularly sitting your child in front of the television so you can do your own thing is pathetic. Your child is your responsibility. Children do not come fully trained and ready for the world. How they develop depends on how you develop them on a daily basis.
Children are like sponges. They soak everything up around them. It is our job as parents to make sure they have the opportunity to absorb beneficial activities that they will enjoy and learn from. Leading an active lifestyle is a great way to encourage such a life for your child. Let your kids get out and find what they truly enjoy however.
Lead from the front while enabling them to pursue their own passions.
Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy. – Robert A. Heinlein17 comments
Three years ago today I posted an article about fostering an active lifestyle for your children (see here). My son was 3 years old and my daughter just 15 months.
At the time, I wondered if my kids would remain as enthusiastic about exercise as they grew older. No one knows what the future will bring. All that I could do was encourage the kids to remain active and hope that they followed suit.
To my surprise, their eagerness about playing in the gym has changed. As toddlers, they always asked for gym time but their attention spans were limited. Three years later, they still ask to play in the gym, but now I can’t get them to leave. My son wants to practice sports before school. He heads right to the gym after school. My daughter wants to practice new “moves” while her brother is at school so she can show him up after. A day doesn’t pass without the kids asking for gym and sports time.
Ironically, I have never once told my kids to exercise or play sports. They want to do what they see their parents doing. My kids have grown up watching us train. When my kids see me do something, they want to try it. It is human nature for kids to imitate their parents.
Telling the kids to do something is not nearly as effective as personally demonstrating through daily actions. Children are much more attentive than many realize. They listen to what you say. They watch what you do. They watch how you act. They watch how you interact with others. Everything that you do around them is taken in and processed. Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything.
If you want your kids to become more active, become more active yourself. Change starts at home. Parents need to lead from the front. It isn’t the world’s responsibility to raise your children. The most important job of a parent is to serve as a valuable role model.
And please don’t confuse my message. I’m not here to suggest that we force our children to become athletes. I just want my children to be healthy and active so they can enjoy the world around them. Most kids start with an eagerness to play. They enjoy running around. They enjoy being physically active. Parents need to continually encourage and promote such activity. Fortunately, it is easy to do. Get off your ass and play with them. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Throw the ball. Do something.
If all your kids see you do is text on the phone and watch television, that’s what they are going to do. Kids will follow your lead. If you remain active, it’s likely they will too. If you sit around and do nothing, that’s the life that they will learn to live.
Lead from the front.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. – Khalil Gibran11 comments
Below is a video that recently aired on the CBS show 60 Minutes. It focuses on the over-consumption of sugar and the associated toxicity.
Discussions about the video have spread rapidly over the past few days. I’ve seen blog entries, forum discussions, and video responses. Many people seem to be genuinely surprised at how potentially harmful processed foods filled with sugar can be.
And while enhanced awareness is certainly a plus, it is unfortunate that educated adults are still surprised by the news. If you take a look below, you will see Jack Lalanne preach about the harmful effects of sugar. He was preaching this message long before many people who read this blog were even alive.
Unfortunately, it still appears that the masses have yet to heed the warning.
If man made it, don’t eat it. – Jack Lalanne23 comments
Terry Wahls, M.D. is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She teaches internal medicine residents in their primary care clinics. She is also involved in clinical research and has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts, posters and papers.
In 2003, she was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and soon became dependent on a tilt-recline wheelchair.
In the video below, she discusses how she overcame the disease through a complete dietary overhaul. The speech is quite interesting and certainly worth a look…
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. – W. Edwards Deming15 comments
December 2010 – This past entry has been updated with a new link to the full movie
Below is a brief trailer to Robert Kenner’s film Food, Inc. The documentary focuses on how food production has gone from being locally developed to being controlled by multinational corporations.
Those familiar with Veoh can watch the full film at the link below. It is well worth 90 minutes of your time.
Following yesterday’s entry, one reader commented with a link to Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech. Up until a few days ago, I had never heard of Jamie Oliver. He has some interesting things to say on the topic of childhood obesity however. If you are concerned about the topic, I encourage you to take a look at the video below.22 comments
Below is a video that was emailed to me this morning (thanks to Andrew). It is a short preview to an upcoming television show that premieres later this month.
The Youtube video description states the following:
Watch as kids in an elementary school class in Huntington, West Virginia have trouble identifying fresh fruits and vegetables. Huntington has been called the unhealthiest city in America where nearly half of the adults are considered obese.
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the video. I am however glad that my three year old son was able to identify each vegetable from the preview.
Perhaps he has an unfair advantage, as he is usually my wife’s sidekick when she does the grocery shopping. He’s been eating fresh vegetables since his first day of real food. When he asks for a snack, he is usually looking for fresh fruits and veggies. That is his idea of a snack. It’s what he’s been around his entire life.
In the words of John Dryden,
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
As I’ve stated many times before, youngsters don’t do their own grocery shopping. They follow the lead of their parents. It is up to us to guide, nurture, and teach them.
The best role model for a child is his or her parents. Parents need to stop making excuses and step up to the plate. If you don’t know what to do, take the time to find out. Knowledge must be sought. It won’t funnel through your pillow at night through osmosis.
Do what you need to do to raise a healthy child.
In the words of Ben Franklin,
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”13 comments
According to the National Wildlife Federation, the average American child spends between four and seven minutes playing outside each day. For a young child, that’s about enough time to throw a ball, retrieve it, and then head back inside.
Kids have become more inclined to sit in front of the television than ever before. If you are a parent, I highly recommend perusing the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There campaign.
You can even find a link that will help you locate outdoor activities in your local area.
A Change In Times
As a child, sitting in front of the television was the last thing I wanted to do. We’d get home from school and immediately head outside. We stayed outside until the sun went down. There was always something to play. It didn’t matter the season. Whether it was hot in the summer or cold in the winter, we headed outside to play.
My wife and I are raising our children the same way. They love the outdoors. My kids would stay outside all day if we let them. It’s natural for children to enjoy playing outside. The kids of today aren’t different than us. It’s just that their surroundings have changed. We didn’t have the technology that exists today. I still remember when the Atari 2600 came out. If the kids of today had to trade in their Playstation for the old Atari system, they’d probably want to head outside too.
Since that isn’t going to happen, parents need to step up to the plate and invest time in their children. That means getting up and taking your kids outside to play. Yes, there will be times when Mother Nature interferes, but even the winter offers opportunities for the kids to play. I still have vivid memories of my childhood winters. We played football in the snow, went sledding down any hill we could find, skated on the ice, and had monumental neighborhood snow ball fights! As a child, life revolved around what to play and where to play.
The kids of today begin with a similar interest in outdoor play. It fades as they gain more and more access to electronic devices. Parents still have the power to pull the plug however. I don’t want my kids glued to the television set. I’d rather have them involved in a useful activity. Clearly, we can’t spend all day outside, but we can certainly make an effort. Earlier today, I took my son for a hike into the woods. We were gone for no more than a half hour, but he had the time of his life. He didn’t need any toys. He ran in the snow, followed animal tracks, and watched as I collected wood. He had an outdoor adventure and we didn’t make it more than 100 yards from my back door. Outdoor activities don’t need to be complicated. Get outside and your kids will find ways to entertain themselves.
Unfortunately, many kids never have the opportunity. Here is a quote from the National Wildlife Federation site:
American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate — accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system — as well as declining creativity, concentration and social skills.
Parents have the power to curb these alarming statistics. Your children will follow your lead. Get up, get outside, and promote a healthy and active lifestyle. It doesn’t take anything other than the willingness to get up and get involved. And if you can’t get outside because of the weather, find something fun to do indoors. My kids can turn a few balloons into an hour of fun. They hit the balloons into the air, chase them down to catch, kick, throw, etc.
Once again, children don’t need elaborate toys for entertainment. More often than not, they just want to get up and move. Foster this interest rather than ignoring it with unlimited access to electronic media.
Let a kid be a kid, the way nature intended…16 comments
Following two recent posts on food production (The Future of Food and Food, Inc.), I’ve received several emails with additional viewing suggestions. There have also been comments posted within each of the original entries.
For those interested, the video is also available on Youtube. Part I can be found here.
And please note that I’m not posting these videos to scare anyone, but I do think it is important to know how and where our food is produced.
In terms of nutritional strategies and ideas, I am all for simplicity. As stated within a past entry:
|My nutritional strategy is very simple. I eat real food (ex. fruits, veggies, fish, meat, etc.) when I’m hungry, and I don’t eat any artificial and/or processed junk. That’s it. I have better things to do with my time than counting how much of this or that nutrient has been consumed in this or that meal. My ancestors did pretty well without calculating zones and nutrient ratios on the abacus, so I see no reason to change. I never get sick, recover quickly from training, and feel good throughout the day. If it isn’t broken, I see no reason to fix it. Find what works for you. That’s the best nutritional advice I ever heard, so now I’m giving it to you.|
In the words of Confucius,
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Amazingly, despite originating a few thousand years ago, the statement above is still as true as ever.9 comments