Friday, February 26, 2010

February is Heart Health Month

As the month's end is drawing near, I want to make sure we have given our HEARTS the LOVE it deserves. As Executive Director of F&H Schools, I mostly deal with children. We talk about what the heart does for us and how it keeps us healthy and strong. As a mother of two young girls too, I read them books about the heart. We read about love, valentines' day, caring and compassion which all come from the "heart". But, we also read about the most important muscle in the body and its functions too!

When talking to your children about their heart, make a fist to show them the size of their heart. Talk about how blood travels through their bodies just like water runs through pipes. Run around the backyard and then stop and explain how your heart is beating faster. This happens because the body needs more oxygen when you exercise. As you have cooled down, have them notice their heart rate and how their breathing has slowed down.

When you and your children begin to appreciate what your body does for you, you will begin to appreciate it more and give it the rest, exercise and healthy foods it needs to stay strong!!!

In health and love,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gonuts, mommy!

While shopping at the grocery store on Monday with my daughter, Jillian, who is 3, we came upon the bakery. She immediately pointed to a box of the most chocolately chocolate donuts! "Mommy, I want gonuts!" As you know, I am a health nut, so needless to say she didn't know how to pronounce DONUT. I felt sad and glad about this. Sad, that she had one or two experiences with donuts and glad, that she had one or two experiences with donuts!! HA!

Guess what I did, I bought the GONUTS!

Many people get trapped into labeling foods as "good" and "bad" foods. Food can have both positive and negative impact on your health. Some foods have more health benefits than others. But dividing foods into “good” and “bad” is not making us eat healthier. It make us want the "bad" foods more! I am not saying to go follow the Taco Bell Diet as hailed earlier this year (who wants a chronic stomachache!? NOT ME!) but eat a diet of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and lots of fruits and vegetables and the OCCASIONAL treat! Enough to savor the sweet tooth....I love a 1/2 cup of sorbet or my delicious 100 calorie, fiber rich, vitamin enriched VitaBrownie (

When you go on a diet (btw ever notice it has the word DIE in it!!!), you tend to crave what you "can't" have or whatever the "bad" food may be! Healthy living is about moderation and balance - that's it, that's all!

Pay attention to your body’s feedback. Slow down and listen. Chances are you will get a subtle message when you eat “junk” food for lunch that that didn’t feel so great. You will also get the message that having a cup of frozen yogurt after dinner is not such a bad thing either. Or a few bite size Gonuts. Eating the box and then buying more then next day to devour is "bad"! Practice my rules of moderation and balance and you will be on your way to healthy mind and body!

In health and love,

A Parent Report Card? Huh?

If you were graded for your efforts in helping your children eat right, what kind of score would you get? Here are some helpful tips to help your children reach the head of the class.

First things first, we must start our school day off right. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, for your children too, and for good reason. Many studies have found a strong relationship between eating breakfast and learning ability, attention span, and general well-being. Children who regularly eat breakfast think faster, clearer, solve problems more easily, and are less likely to be irritable, according to the American Dietetic Association. Kids have excuses for not eating breakfast, such as “I don’t have time,” “I am not hungry,” and “I don’t like breakfast foods.” The important thing to do is to find something healthy they do like. With all the studies conducted on this subject, the evidence points to a healthier life and overall general well-being if we eat breakfast.

Some examples of breakfast foods that are healthy and quick and easy to make are fiber rich muffins, low fat yogurt with granola, English muffin with natural peanut butter, scrambled egg whites, protein shake, fruit smoothie and high fiber cereal with skim milk. Some school cafeterias offer breakfast, which can be advantageous to a busy student who doesn't have the time at home to grab a bite to eat at home. If students skip breakfast, researchers have found that the lack of breakfast or drop in blood sugar levels will cause problems for students later in the morning such as less ability to reach solutions and conclusions. So, start your day off right by boosting your metabolism and getting your brain functioning by eating a healthy vitamin-enriched meal in the morning.

In a perfect world, many nutritionists would like to see students eating six small balanced meals throughout the day. In many instances for students, this will not do. Schedules are crammed from the beginning of the school day until lunch so eating a small meal between breakfast and lunch may not be feasible. In this instance, it is of utmost importance to eat breakfast like a king. Make sure you are eating a meal rich in protein and fiber to keep your blood sugar levels steady. If you are able to eat a small meal, pack a low sugar granola bar, protein shake, trail mix or piece of fruit in your bag to keep your energy levels up until lunchtime.

When the bell rings for lunch, many students are off to pick up lunch at the school’s cafeteria. School districts across the country have been taking steps to make food in schools healthier because of new federal guidelines and awareness that a growing number of children are overweight. It is important to encourage your children to make a healthy choice as this affects how they perform the rest of the day.

An alternative to eating in the cafeteria may be bringing a “brown bag lunch.” For safety’s sake, keeping your lunch cold until lunchtime is essential. You can do this by packing a reusable ice pack, or try packing a small water bottle or 100 percent juice box that has been frozen. Some examples of healthy lunches that are portable include peanut butter/jelly sandwich on whole grain bread, turkey or chicken sandwich and salads. Be sure to pack some fruits and vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, apples and bananas.

When school lets out for the day, many students participate in extracurricular activities and sports. It is vital to eat a small meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein to fuel the body for the chosen activity. Some examples of this might be an energy bar, yogurt, or a small serving of whole grain pretzels, protein shakes, rice cakes or soy crisps. It also important to keep hydrated by drinking water before, during and after exercise.

So far, so good on scoring high marks on that report card. Dinner poses a problem for many busy families these days. Both parents are typically working and have little time to prepare a well-balanced meal. This is where planning is important. Grill several ounces of lean protein and freeze half. Use your slow cooker - turn it on in the morning and when you get home - dinner will be ready! Or, throw together a protein rich, veggie-filled salad!

All in all, there are several ways you can grade your kids on their nutrition report card. Be sure they are getting about 0.5 grams of protein for every pound they weigh. That’s a gram for every 2 pounds they weigh. Children older than 6 years should have 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruits per day. Also, whole grains are essential to a child’s diet - that’s their fuel! Children should be getting at least 5 servings of whole grains per day. And, last but not least, let’s not forget dairy to build those strong healthy bones. It is recommended children have 3 servings a day of dairy products each day.

Following these guidelines will ensure a fit and healthy kid and lay the groundwork for a life of healthy living for many years to come! Now let’s make the grade!

For more information about how to get your family moving and eating right log . Our non-profit is committed to building Fit & Healthy Schools across the nation. Our national nutrition partner is Max Muscle Sports Nutrition, so next time you are in any of their stores ask for more information about having one of the Certified Nutrition Coaches come talk to your school!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Self Esteem and Exercise

Self - Esteem and Exercise

Peanut butter and Jelly, Ben & Jerry, Bread & butter, and Jack & Jill. They all come in pairs, right? Well so does self-esteem and exercising!! Self-esteem is defined as "the experience of being capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness. We all deserve that joy in life! Many of us, the last thing we take care of is our bodies and our health.

As women, we tend to take care of others before ourselves. I am sure you have heard the famous cliche before, "You cannot give to others unless you have given to yourself first." WELL, its true!! Being a mother of two young girls, I have learned that when I have taken care of myself, i.e., showered, got the 8 hours of sleep a night, and hit the gym for an energetic workout, I give them the best MOM I can be!! And they like that a lot!

As a young woman, I suffered from anorexia. My self esteem was at all time low in college. Uncertain of my future career, changes in diet, exercise, sleep, the stress of schoolwork and being away from home made up for a terrible case of depression and disordered eating. To cure myself of the disease and to end my suffering, I educated myself on the right ways to eat (YES, EAT! not starve!), stay in shape, and to cope with my everyday stressors. I eat six small meals a day, exercise 6 days a week, get my rest, and laugh and play with my two little angels to cope with the stressors of day to day living.

I think the misconception most women have is that they must eat very little in order to stay a certain size. That could be no further from the TRUTH ladies!! Our bodies will be sent into starvation mode and will hold onto every ounce of fat we have, leaving us with very little muscle and whole lot of soft tissue!! And on top of that, we will have very little energy to exercise and even moreso to stand up straight without passing out. As mothers, we need all the energy we can get so that is not an option!!!!

So give yourself a boost today. Take a walk, set up a mini bootcamp in your living room (will be posted later), play scavenger hunt with your small children, or do an exercise DVD you have been letting collect dust on the shelf. Try eating one serving of vegetables a day and work your way up to the recommended 6 servings. I promise your body and your self-esteem will soar! The more you practice taking care of your body, the more confident you become!

In health and love,


Whew! 2010 has already been quite a year. I just got off the phone with the editors of Self Magazine and they want to feature me and my transformation story in their Magazine!!! Wooohoooo. Long story shot, I have come a long way in my life. Uncertain of my strengths, I dealt with an eating disorder and a short battle with postpartum depression. Now I back better than ever, ready to change the world through my work with Fit & Healthy Schools and be the best mom and wife anyone has ever seen!!! Join me on this adventure!!!

In health and love,