Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Curse of Video Games...Or So I Think

By Ciara Cappo

Let's play a little game. I want you to think back, way back to when you were in elementary school. What were some of your favorite recess games? After school games? Personally, I can remember playing red rover, swinging on the monkey bars and at home we would ride our bikes or roller blade with the neighborhood kids. Hopefully you can remember those great childhood memories and how fun it was to be a kid! These days kids are becoming more and more sedentary, meaning they aren't getting out of the house and playing. Instead they're staying in the house, playing video or computer games. Even more so with mobile devices enabling kids to fixate on their games in the car, at the restaurant table, basically everywhere. 

It is no coincidence that childhood obesity is currently at an all time high. I can think back to when I was a kid and played Nintendo. It was introduced to the United States in 1985 and was very popular when I was a kid, this was almost thirty years ago. The CDC reports that in the last 30 years childhood obesity has more than tripled. Alright, perhaps there is no direct correlation here because there are a lot of factors that contribute to childhood obesity besides video games. However the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of children is no doubt a contributing factor to childhood obesity. 
What can we do to help the increasing incidence of childhood obesity? For starters I think we should encourage our kids to have fun and play outside. For children this can be a perfect way to burn extra energy. My nephews and nieces love to play outside with pogo sticks, bikes, skate boards and the rip stick. Often times outdoor activities can give children a great challenge they may not get at school. Along with lots of energy burning playtime, kids should be getting healthy meals that provide the proper nutrients for their growing bodies and non sugary snacks to keep them going throughout the day. Fresh fruits make a great snack and often when cut up in bite size pieces, make it fun to eat. Taking a moment to remember what it's like to be a kid and have fun can often help adults realize exactly what it is that kids need to grow, be healthy and strong. 

Live life and enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Improve Your Life Through Exercise

By Matt Moore

Do you feel sluggish in the morning and you just don’t want to get out of bed?
When you are awake, do you spend most of your time sitting in front of a TV clicking through the channels and not really using your time wisely?
Is your idea of exercise, one that involves going and getting the mail?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then you’re well on your way to realizing your full potential.

Let’s take a journey.  Now, you may be asking yourself, “Yeah I know about exercise, but it makes me tired, sore and sometimes cranky.” I bet you have come up with many excuses to avoid going out and exercising.
Such as… it is too expensive to join the athletic club near me?  I don’t know what to do, to even get started?  Or the favorite excuse of everyone, “there is just not enough time to do exercise in my schedule?”
Well here are some answers to get you motivated and well on your way:

1)      Exercise will improve your overall health, by lowering your blood pressure, and decreasing your risk of stroke.
2)     If done on a regular basis you could experience weight loss, and an increased self image.
3)     It will give you the needed energy to go out and do the things that you have always wanted to do. Such as, go camping or hiking in the mountains, play with your kids, or just being able to run up the stairs to answer the phone without being winded.
4)     The best part is that exercising is “free” you do not need a fancy gym membership, just go out for a stroll, run, jump, and play in the park, do some yard work, park in the furthest spot away from the store you are going into.

All it takes to get yourself up and out of the house is some initiative of your own.
I hope that you are now more inclined to go out and enjoy the day and I challenge you to get off the couch and enjoy yourself in the activity you choose to do!
Just remember, there is no special pill on the market today that will give you the benefits that exercise can.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Left-->Right:   Jason Kim, Carling Mcmichael, Alison Stamos, Tomilyn Thornberry, Taylor Cox

Last night, we sent a crew of five people over to San Jose Family Supportive Housing to hold our weekly program. When we arrived, the kids were doing their homework in their classrooms and when they realized we were there; they ran out screaming, "They're back, they're back!" The group had an awesome time with the kids, teaching them some core values of nutrition, exercise, games, and a ton of fun. We have begun to implement our program on a weekly basis at SJ FSH and are looking forward to sending another group of students over next Thursday!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mother Nature is calling: The Importance of Being Outside

By Tomilyn Thornberry

The holidays are over, summer is still a few months away, and we all tend to get stuck indoors with our televisions and computers during the months of January and February. It is no surprises these months have been found to have the highest depression rates. Even in sunny California the shorter daylight hours keep many of us inside for the majority of our days and weeks. If we stop to think about it there are probably even stretches of multiple days where we only go outside to get to and from our modes of transportation and our workplaces. For those with children, the thought of getting the kids geared up to go play outside can sometimes be exhausting.

But, no matter where you live, spending time outdoors each week is vital to your mental health.  It’s so important that we be conscious of making some time each day to just appreciate the outdoors. Here are a few suggestions on ways to make time for being outside each day:

-Do a daily routine (checking emails/etc. on phone, reading the daily paper) outside on a bench.
-Get off the elliptical or treadmill…take your workout outdoors!
-Pick one of the outside tables when you head to Starbucks to do work or study.
-Arrange a playdate with other parents/kids at an outdoor playground.
-Walk instead of drive!
-Don’t forget to open your windows to let fresh air in your home from time to time.

For children, being indoors is both overstimulating and boring.  Even the experts agree: “Throughout history, children spent most of every day frolicking outside. Our homes are boring because they replace the exciting sensations of nature (the feeling of the wind on their skin, the brilliant sun, the soft grass, etc.) with an immense stillness (flat walls, flat floors, no wind). (Being indoors) bombards them with jolting experiences that kids in the past never had to deal with: crazy cartoons, slick videos, clanging computer games, noisy toys, and bright colors everywhere...which can make many little children feel stressed."  You might deduce that the same can be said for adults with all of the technological gadgets we have to fill our time. 

To those of you that have weather to contend with in these winter months allow me to share with you an appropriate quote: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” In other words, if you have the right clothing items you can brave the rain, cold or wind and still be comfortable.  In Denmark, where the average winter temperatures are 30 degrees F, parents take their children outside everyday, they just dress them accordingly.

So, make time for the outdoors, even if it means pulling on a sweatshirt and reading a book on the porch at 8pm! Your body and mind will thank you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Do You Like Your Veggies? Raw, Baked, Steamed, Fried?

By Nichelle Francavilla

Does it really matter how we prepare our vegetables? Do we get the same nutritional value from pan fried vegetables, steamed vegetables, and raw vegetables?

The answer is no we do not get the same nutritional value from our vegetables through these different cooking modalities. This information almost seems hidden from us as a society.  Almost all vegetables with a few exceptions have the most nutritional value if we eat them raw. For most Americans eating every vegetable we consume raw would be quite boring and for some unappealing. There are fortunately other ways in which we can eat vegetables and still get nutritional value out of them. The second best way to prepare those veggies is through steaming, next baking/roasting, and finally through sautéing/frying them. The key for all of these cooking methods is to not overcook them. The more you cook the vegetables the more nutrition that is cooked out of them.

The unfortunate fact is that many vegetables have lost many of their nutrients by the time they reach our kitchen counter for a meal. Due to our mass production of foods in America the time between picking the produce and getting it to the consumer has increased significantly. Many nutrients are lost from our vegetables from being exposed to air and light during this time. The longer distance the vegetable travel means the longer they have been exposed to light and the longer they have been exposed to air. The best advice is to eat as fresh of food as possible from places like farmers markets or even your own personal garden. This eliminates the long distance that your produce has to travel to reach your plate.
Another tip is to wash your veggies, but not soak them because many of the water-soluble vitamins can have a tendency to leach out. This is true for any liquid you place your veggies in from steaming them in water to sautéing them in oil. The vitamins often leach into the liquid and are discarded. For soups where that liquid is often used, not much of the nutrition is lost because they are then included back into the meal.

Set a goal! What will you change to get the most nutrition out of your meal? How will you eat your next meal of veggies to benefit you the most? Perhaps raw or slightly steamed? Maybe you will even use your weekend to visit a nearby farmers market and get fresh veggies!

For more information visit: http://www.myoptumhealth.com

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spaghetti Squash!

By Ciara Cappo

Last month I set a goal for myself to eat healthier and clean up my diet. I set this goal for myself in order to have a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes we can go day to day and not realize how much the things we put in our mouth affect our body. The things we consume can affect our bodily functions, energy and mood. One thing you should take notice of when changing your diet is how your body feels and if there are any changes that occur with your body during this time. I have become more aware of how my body feels since changing my diet, when eating certain things I have noticed what my body does and does not like. I have noticed that since cleaning up my diet I have felt better and seem to have more energy than before!

 I started my ‘clean’ diet by eating as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, chicken and fish, and 

started eating brown rice instead of white. I come from an Asian culture so switching over to brown rice was very difficult for me luckily I found a brown rice and quinoa medley that I like and tastes great! A great tip for making diet and lifestyle changes such as this is to find foods that go along with your change and also taste good. If you don’t enjoy what you are eating, you will be least likely to follow your diet change. Most of the time I have been altering recipes I currently use to incorporate fresh ingredients but the other night I tried a completely new recipe. I made spaghetti squash! I first heard of this recipe from a woman I met while working- she said her granddaughter loved it. I thought to myself “if kids love it, then why wouldn’t I?” At my next grocery store visit I happened to walk past the squash and noticed a recipe sticker attached to it, it was the recipe for spaghetti squash. It was a sign! If you’re lucky enough to find a squash that comes with directions you should definitely try it.

Spaghetti squash was somewhat easy to make. Basically instead of using traditional spaghetti noodles for the pasta, you cook and string the squash to use as noodles. You can add your usual pasta sauce or make your own like I did.
1.     You must poke holes with a fork around the entire squash.
2.     Next you microwave the squash for 8-10 minutes or until the skin begins to soften. Carefully remove squash, cut in half and remove seeds.
3.     Using a fork, scrape along the inside of the squash. This will cause the squash to peel off in a stringy fashion. Do this to both halves of the squash until the desired amount of “noodles” are obtained.
4.     Now you are ready to add your homemade sauce and enjoy!

Here are a few pictures from my experience with this dish

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What a Great Quarter!

We have just finished up our second quarter as a club and it has been been full of progress. We had very high hopes for this quarter, setting big goals and I have to say that we have made tremendous progress as a group. We have now established a website, serving as a home-base to our organization and have begun to produce educational articles in blog format to further support our mission of reaching out to the online community. We also held The Work Hard Play Hard Fundraiser as one of our many upcoming fundraisers. The event had a great turn out and served as a great way for us to get exposure and funding as an upcoming club. Beginning last week, we launched our own workout program as a club. Each week we will be meeting on a voluntary basis to practice what we preach and get a great workout in! Thus far, it has been a fun experience and we will be continuing this in the future.

And now on to the good stuff...

Three weeks ago, we held our first Healthy Choices Seminar! We got the opportunity to have an awesome time sharing exercise and nutrition with 15 kids at San Jose Family Supportive Housing. The event was such a great experience for all of us and we learned a tremendous amount from the hour we spent there. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to return there in the future and implement our program in many other locations throughout The Bay Area.

We have taken some huge steps in the right direction in the last 10 weeks and we don't plan on stopping by any means. We have many more goals set for the upcoming quarter and have seminars lined up for the new year. I can't wait to see how much our club will grow in the coming year. Thank you all for your support, we appreciate all that we have recieved and are excited to continue our efforts in changing The Bay Area for the better!