A Report Card You Don’t Want to Bring Home

The very first U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth was recently released, and let’s just say the grades weren’t something you’d want to show your parents. Overall, the grade for “overall physical activity” was a D-, a barely passing grade. Four out of the ten categories were given “incompletes,” indicating there wasn’t even enough data to give a grade. The report card stated that only 24.8 percent of 12-15 year-olds get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day. A “D” was given for “sedentary behaviors.” To me, this wasn’t really a huge shock. But, the fact that kids between the ages of 6-19 spend 424 minutes EACH DAY sitting was utterly startling. After spending so many years as a school psychologist, it makes me wonder if there is a correlation between this and the number of students diagnosed with ADHD? Maybe they’re just not given enough time to MOVE! So what happens? They act out, can’t sit down, and can’t focus. With the constant barrage of information they are hit with day after day, that lack of movement makes it difficult to learn and retain information. But, that’s a whole other blog post (or a book 😉 ).

 

Children and youth spend over 7 hours per day engaged in sedentary activities, and children become more sedentary as they get older. No wonder the report card grade for “sedentary behaviors” was a D. The only plus I saw on the report card was that more elementary schools, since 2010, are requiring physical education classes. However, that is at the elementary level, not high school. PE is still not a requirement for all four years in the vast majority of high schools. Fewer kids are walking or biking to and from school. Most either ride the bus or are picked up and dropped off.

 

The report card gave an incomplete in the area of “active play”- the proportion of U.S. children and youth participating in daily unstructured, unorganized active play. I think there is an incomplete in this area because they know the data collected would be unbelievably terrifying. How many kids and teens do you see outside engaging in active play with peers? There are barely any. Why? Well, because they can play Xbox games with friends while sitting on the couch! There’s really no need to walk down the street to see a friend when there’s Face Time, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and they can communicate with dozens of friends at once, right in the convenience of their own home.

 

I don’t know when playing stopped being fun. Isn’t that the meaning behind the word “play?” Adults, we are doing such a disservice to our kids. This needs to end NOW. We need to step it up and stop taking the easy way out. 17 year-old teens are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. One-third of children are now considered overweight or obese. If they are overweight or obese as children, what is going to happen to them as adults? Then, the pattern will continue with the next generation, and the next, and the next. Bottom line, we as adults are the ones that need to change the fate of our kids and teens. Now is the time.

 

 

You Throw #LikeAGirl

#LikeAGirl  —-> click for video on YouTube

When I saw this video my eyes welled up and tears rolled down my cheeks. I don’t have a little girl. But, if I did, I would do everything in my power to instill in her self-confidence, strength, self-respect, the meaning of true beauty, and how to love herself enough to stand up for herself and her beliefs. I remember as a kid not wanting to be a girl. In fact, I even begged my dad to let me play football. Being a girl, to me, meant you were weak, feeble, and could never measure-up to the boys. You’d never be good at math and you’d definitely never be able to play sports with the boys. Girls just didn’t possess those skills. I was almost afraid that if I did anything “like a girl”- throw a ball, shoot a basketball, run, etc., that I would be thought of as a lesser being. I realize now that I do swing a bat like a girl, run like a girl, kick like a girl, and throw like a girl… with power, speed, and strength. That’s it. I don’t do those things “like a boy.” I do them like me.

Society puts so much pressure on girls to dress, talk, act, sit, eat, play, and behave a certain way. Then, we confuse them by saying not to do something “like a girl” as if it were an insult. It has become so incredibly difficult to instill confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth in girls, especially with all of the social media, magazines, and television shows constantly berating girls with images of how they “should” be. However, it takes one video, one force, one voice to open people’s eyes and change their perspectives. If this message can make just one person stop and  really think about the impact their words truly have, it can change the lives of so many girls. This video needs to be shared again, and again, and again…. Kindle like this can turn a spark into an inferno and transform the thinking patterns and perspectives of an entire generation. Now is the time. Our girls need us more than ever…

What does “perfect” look like? Unfortunately, there’s an app for that~

I came across an advertisement for “beauty apps” that can drastically change a photo to how a person “should” look. One of these apps is called “Selfie Photo Editor.” Taking a picture from your phone, you use the app to make at least 15 different changes to the photo to make the person look pretty and perfect. Without these changes, we would obviously just be plain ugly, right? It enlarges eyes, plumps lips, adds eyelashes and eyeliner, thins your face and cheeks, and will even apply a tanning filter… Seriously? Another app, “Beauty Plus” shows the photo of a young girl and different options for photo editing such as face lifts, eye enhancement, fixing “imperfect” skin, adding “beauty filters,” and a “magic brush” to finish up. Face lifts for 13 year-olds? Wow…stunned. An app called “Hot Girls Salon” is a game to “take girls who are waiting for a night on the town and make them hot-looking.” (Literally, that’s what it says.) Getting ready involves heavy makeup, perfect hair, certain “hot” clothes, and completely distorted cartoon versions of how a girl’s body is built.

selfie

**From the “Selfie Photo Editor”- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/selfie-photo-editor-cosmetic/id781409730?mt=8 by OMJ Holdings Pty Ltd (same as below)

Through my years as a school psychologist, I’ve seen the pressure girls, even elementary school girls, feel to look like women in magazines, on the internet, on TV, etc. who they see as “perfect.” Honestly, it is just heartbreaking. Our girls are just pushing to grow up too fast, wearing clothing they believe will attract boys, putting on heavy makeup, and even talking about plastic surgery. Teens are still kids! The crazy thing is that teenage girls have full access to download these apps. So, they are constantly being exposed to the underlying message that who they are isn’t good enough. Do you know what teenage girls need? They need to feel empowered, strong, and confident in who they are, just as they are. It is up to us as adults to teach and give them what they need. Without that, where do our young girls turn to for advice? Exactly~ social media, apps, magazines, etc. Yet, adults are the ones creating these apps. Something is wrong with this cycle; and it is our responsibility to stop it.

You are perfect exactly the way you are. I don’t know why the world is always telling us we have to change ourselves. Whether it’s how we dress, do our hair, or put on makeup, we’re never “good enough.” Who determines the standards for how we “should” be? Decide for yourself. Now, I believe in being classy and having self-respect in appearance and actions. Before alarms start going off in your head; I don’t mean people need expensive clothes nor need to act “prim, proper, and perfect.” Be yourself. Be you. It doesn’t matter if you make your own clothes, buy them from thrift shops, get them at the mall, or go to expensive boutiques. I think, as women, we all know how to dress to demand respect. What I’m trying to say is; cover it up ladies.

In regards to actions, I don’t think there is a “right” and “wrong” way to act (to a certain extent). You don’t need to change who you are, EVER. Who cares if someone doesn’t like you? It’s not your responsibility to make the rest of the world happy. However, I don’t think actions should be cruel or offensive to other people or in public. Ladies, when you’re out, sing out loud to your favorite song, dance, and be yourself. But, when you start swearing like a sailor and saying “F” this and “F” that, people take notice. Not in a good way. You could have the perfect makeup, the most expensive clothes, the “best” body, but when you lower the standards for yourself, the rest of the world lowers them too.

selfie 2

Have fun. Laugh and smile. Get mad. Cry. Forgive. Apologize and admit when you are wrong. Make mistakes. Fix mistakes. However, this concept society has created about “being a lady” dictates a certain way women need to be- quiet, reserved, dainty, etc. I don’t think we need to change who we are to be “a lady.” Honestly, I know I wouldn’t fall into this stereotype; and I’m fine with that. I laugh as loudly as I want, love football, playing sports, trip and fall (or get distracted rollerblading, hit a curb, and wipe out into the grass!), and will listen to whatever music I want. True, I like to dress in a way that makes me feel good, do my hair, and wear makeup. But, that’s just me! You may be completely different and just as happy! Why would we all want to be the same? We are not definitions; we are people. That’s why the constant pursuit of skinniness and dieting is so frustrating to me. It’s another definition of how a woman “should” be.

It’s ridiculous that the world holds us to certain standards. But, it’s more ridiculous society tells us that if we don’t follow these rules, serious repercussions will result. Have you ever told yourself or have someone tell you: “Well, if you’re not (fill in the blank… skinny)” or “If you don’t have (fill in the blank… perfect makeup); you’ll never find a guy, get that job, or be loved. Unfortunately, I’m sure we have all done this, including myself. What I’ve realized throughout my journey is that I needed to stop fighting, trying to change, or living to meet someone else’s standards. You are amazing, and the most important people in your life will see that. If they don’t, they aren’t worth having in your life.

20140415-113850.jpg

The Biggest Loser~ The Secret Behind The Weekly Weigh-In

Each time I watched the Biggest Loser, I remember thinking to myself: How is it possible for someone to lose 15 pounds in one week? Well, I was recently given an article that answered my question: “They aren’t.”  Recently, one of the contestants, Andrew “Cosi” Costello came forward with some shocking truths about the secrets behind this astonishing weight-loss. He said the “weekly weigh-in” was never filmed after just one week. In reality, there was up to a 25 day gap between weigh-ins. There’s a big difference between 1 week and 3 1/2.  He said exactly what I was thinking: People get inspired to get off the couch, get moving, and eat healthy, But, in the real world, when people work all week and don’t lose that kind of weight, some people feel like they’ve failed and give up. That, right there, is the problem. This misconception isn’t just caused by The Biggest Loser, but by society as a whole. I want to change that.

The reason I’m sharing this has nothing to do with creating drama or whistle-blowing. I am sharing this because of the effect I think it has on people who are trying to lose weight and get into shape in real-life. I can sense the frustration of those watching this show, witnessing people lose 10-20 pounds, while they may have lost 1 after working out and eating healthy all week. If it was me, I’d be wondering what I was doing wrong, why I wasn’t losing weight that quickly. I’d become discouraged too. That’s when the frustration leads to setbacks and eventually, giving up. It makes me really upset because it gives the world a completely distorted perception of what is possible and not possible when trying to lose weight and become more healthy. Everyone is different and everyone will lose weight at a different pace. However, for people to think that they should be able to lose 10 pounds per week or they “aren’t doing enough” just isn’t right. So, I need you to understand the implications of this so that you aren’t so incredibly hard on yourself over something that isn’t even comparable. There’s a big difference between the progress someone is able to make in 7 days vs. 25 days. Plus, the people on the show workout for an unreasonable amount of hours per day and, as it said in the article, were also extremely dehydrated before the weigh-in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think this show is great because it motivates and inspires others to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. It shows people that everyone can get out there, workout, and lose weight. Just keep it realistic when comparing it to your own life. You do you! Work hard, eat healthy, love life. That’s what you need to do to change your life. The inches will come off, so please, please don’t quit. You can do this…. keep it in perspective, and don’t be defined by the scale.

20140415-113850.jpg

No, No, GMOs!

I had heard of the term, “GMO,” seen “Non-GMO” on various food labels, and even read articles that referred to “GMOs.” But, I never really KNEW what a GMO was until I did some research.

 

What are GMOs?

GMO stands for “genetically-modified organism.” Sounds delicious, right? According to the World Health Organization, GMOs are organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been changed in a way that does not occur naturally in the world. They are found in animals and plants that have been genetically altered through the addition of bacteria, viruses, or DNA from other animals and plants of different species. In fact, they were first used by pharmaceutical and medical research companies. Now, they are most prevalent in the agricultural industry. Eek.

 

Are GMOs Harmful?

Now, keep in mind, this is what I’ve read. My intent is not to make anyone completely paranoid on his or her next grocery shopping trip. In the book, The Athlete’s Plate (Kellinson, 2009), it was stated that the danger lies in having those modified food genes transferred into our own bodies and genetic make-up. Also, there is a potential risk that the DNA from GMOs can be transferred into a developing fetus via the placenta. Plain and simple: Avoid these foods as much as you possibly can. Eat whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats, eggs, and milk, and stay away from processed foods. Think of processed food as food that can’t be found in nature. They don’t occur naturally. You can’t pick them off a tree. So, just to name a few, Oreos, hot dogs, many cereals, and, yes, potato chips should be crossed off the grocery list! No crying. They’re not healthy anyway.

 

Why are people on a “Non-GMO” mission?

Even though surveys have shown that Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing has GMOs, biotech lobbyists have succeeded in keeping the public blind to this information. Basically, lobbyists are preventing the FDA from requiring companies to put labels on their food products that contain GMOs. Talk about unethical. Because of this, groups like the Non-GMO Project were created to provide consumers with the information they need and deserve to make healthy choices. Companies are now joining the movement and giving you peace-of-mind when purchasing quality food for you and your family. Lists of participating retailers in your city/state can be found on the Non-GMO project website.

 

How do I find products that are Non-GMO? How do I know if a certain food has them?

I’m not going to lie; avoiding GMO foods is time-consuming and will definitely be challenging at times. I’ve found that if you eliminate processed foods, you lower your chances of consuming food with GMOs. What is an easy way to find food without GMOs? Choose USDA certified organic products- GMOs are prohibited, so there is no guessing. If you go to the Non-GMO Project’s website, www.nongmoproject.org, you can enter products and brands into the “Find Non-GMO Choices” generator to see if they are verified Non-GMO products. On their site is also a list of verified Non-GMO grocery stores and even an iPhone app which helps you determine if a product has GMOs. Here’s the amazing part- People are so passionate about keeping GMOs out of food that the Non-GMO Project is completely non-profit. Its funding comes from donations and fundraising. So, all of these resources, research, and tech tools have been provided to consumers for free.

Here’s my thing: I always say, the more obsessed people get about certain foods, the more stringent they are about straying even a hair away from their standards, and the less they enjoy life and food. When you go to your grandma’s house, are you really going to tell her you refuse to eat the food she has slaved over to cook for the past 5 hours? I think not. Our society is very social, and usually those gatherings revolve around food. Make recommendations or ask if the group wants to go to a restaurant that you know serves Non-GMO verified food. However, I think it’s overkill if you refuse to go out to a restaurant and spend quality time with friends or family once in a while. That’s just how I feel about it. Live and love your life. In order to do that, you have to take care of your WHOLE being, which means making sure you fulfill the human need for love, support, conversation, and honestly, human contact!

I get it, organic products are expensive, trust me. But, fresh fruits, vegetables, even bread or pasta can be purchased for much less at a farmer’s market. Try to buy locally! Also, keep in mind foods with these ingredients almost ALWAYS have GMOS: soybeans, canola oil, corn oil, and sugar made from sugar beets. So, by avoiding those foods, you are taking the first step towards living a GMO-free life.

Have your peanut butter… and stay healthy too!

You don’t  see peanut butter and healthy eating in the same sentence very often. Ok, maybe never. But, here’s your chance to fall in love with peanut butter all over again…. powdered peanut butter. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, it’s not some crazy genetic peanut mutation. It’s made from real peanuts, salt, and a little sugar, exactly like traditional peanut butter. But, instead of being 190 calories per serving (2 tbsp.), powdered peanut butter has 45 calories per serving. Did you hear me?? 45 calories!! It’s a peanut butter addict’s dream! It has 85% less fat and calories than traditional peanut butter. Measure out two tablespoons, add a tablespoon of water, mix, and voilà! Peanut butter!

I’ve found three different brands: Just Great Stuff, PB2, and Vitacost PBSlim. They all have the same ingredients, but each has a slightly different flavor. Test them out and see which one is your favorite (mine is the PB2 😉 ). Not a bad taste test proposal, right? You can add it to protein shakes, mix it into sugar-free pudding, spread it on a banana, or  have a good ol’ PB & J sandwich again! It is a great way to add a little protein to your pre or post-workout snack without adding all the extra calories. What do I think about powdered peanut butter? Well, if you hadn’t already guessed, I think this stuff is amazing! It’s such a great way to get your peanut butter fix, and I wish I would have come up with it! 🙂 Check out some of these recipes or create your own! http://www.bellplantation.com/recipes  Enjoy! 🙂

peanuts-1020244-m

What I think about… Nike Studio Wrap Shoes

These shoes are great…. But not for all types of workouts. I do Turbo Fire and Turbo Kick at home on the carpet and in the studio at the gym. They are perfect for this kind of workout, HIIT, Insanity, Pilates, Zumba, yoga basically most plyometric workouts that don’t involve weighted exercises. I discovered the Nike Studio Wrap shoes and started using them because my knees and ankles were bothering me from all of the resistance/friction between the carpet in my house and my tennis shoes. The carpet was inhibiting full joint rotation from my hips down to my ankles. I’m sure many people have found this same problem while working out at home. I gave these a try, and I absolutely love them for the workouts I mentioned above. Remember, everyone is different. Do what is best for you body. Listen to what your body is telling you.

Although I use them very frequently, they are not suitable and don’t provide enough stability for many other exercises. For example, I wouldn’t recommend walking on the treadmill or using the elliptical in these wrap shoes. Also, if you’re using resistance bands, you can’t put the band under your feet (without pain!) and use it like you would with tennis shoes. The same goes for weight training exercises where you need to stabilize and plant your feet to prevent injury from heavy lifting. Plus, no one wants to drop a weight on those toes! Ouch!

For those of you that decide these shoes would be perfect for your needs, they are really comfortable and provide enough traction to stop from hyper rotation or extension of the joints. They don’t move around on your feet, are easy to wash, and perfect to just throw on and workout. No socks required. Also, the Studio Wrap shoe fabric is thick yet flexible and wraps tightly around your entire foot to give you stability. If you do decide to wear them to a gym studio, be prepared, your toes will get a little dirty (just like they would if you walked around outside barefoot). But, it gives you a really good reason to go out and treat yourself for that pedicure you want and deserve! 😉 Overall, I give them a thumbs up. Absolutely worth the $40-$50 price tag! You can order them on http://www.nike.com, and they do come in another style than the ones I have. I haven’t seen them in stores, so it appears as though you can only get them online (but I didn’t look in any dance wear specific stores). I hope you love them too! 🙂

20140329-203534.jpg