Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Truth May Hurt, But Obesity Can Kill

I am usually not one to look for controversy.  I generally avoid conflict and keep the peace.  However, when I encounter situations that I know for a fact are wrong or are causing serious harm, I will stand up for what I believe in.  This passion for making things right is what led me to quit my job last year and start my quest of getting people healthy.  So far I feel I have made a big difference in the lives I have touched.  I have seen people reduce and even eliminate medications, go from morbid obesity to normal weight range, find their confidence, and reclaim their lives.  However, there are still so many people that are in dire need of getting healthy and reclaiming their lives.  And, in some cases of young children, they simply need to claim their lives since they are obese before they even begin grade school. 

Typical school-provided lunch
Last week I saw a story on a local news channel about a local school district providing free lunches over the summer.  The story stated that this particular school district had a large percentage of their children on free or reduced-cost lunches.  Since they did not want their students to go without a breakfast or lunch during the summer, they were going to provide a so-called “healthy” alternative for kids who were part of the free-lunch program.  I am not sure if it was the school district or the news channel that labeled these lunches as healthy.  However, during the time the story ran, they showed video of children eating school lunches of strawberry milk, deep-fried chicken bites with ketchup, and French fries.  They then showed a woman who said she thought it was great because if these kids were left without the school-provided lunch, they would likely choose chips and a soda.  It astonishes me that anyone could think that the school lunch described above would be a healthy alternative to chips and soda.  First of all, the flavored milk has as much sugar as a Mountain Dew, the chicken and French fries are deep-fried in oil, and the ketchup is mostly high fructose corn syrup (HFCS, basically man-made cheap sugar).  I think providing free lunches to students living in poverty is fantastic and this program is well-intended.  However, obesity among low-income neighborhoods is even greater and school lunches should not exacerbate the problem.   

Typical school-provided breakfast
The National School Lunch Program is a federally funded program to feed school children breakfast and lunch.  I’m not well-versed in politics, but I do know that government subsidies for corn growers have made the cost of HFCS so low that it is an easy way to decrease the costs of food production, thereby lowering the cost incurred by the government for school lunches.  The restrictions, guidelines, and limitations on the nutrition of these school breakfasts and lunches are murky at best.  Meals have limits on fat and saturated fat, but no limits on the amount of sugar (or HFCS) a child can consume during each meal. Most nutritionists recommend no more than about 12 grams (about 3 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children.  However, the majority of American children far exceed that recommended limit.  And, upon analysis of meals served in schools, it’s no wonder.  For example, a popular breakfast of Frosted Flakes soaked in chocolate milk with a pastry and a carton of orange juice contains 51 grams of added sugar.  That’s over four times the amount of sugar a child should have in an entire day, and he hasn’t even started class yet! 

We can change their future starting today
I don’t know immediately how to solve this critical situation.  I honestly don’t think that the answer lies in any one solution.  It will take a revolution among parents, kids, schools, and public & private organizations.  But, I do know that we are currently killing our kids.  Obesity can limit the quality of life our youngsters could have, and even worse, it can shorten their lifespan.  This truth may hurt to hear, but allowing our kids to be obese can kill them.  I know I can’t change the school system, I can’t reach every child (locally or nationally), and I can’t cut through the bureaucratic red tape…at least not right now.  But I am going to do my best.  I am starting this summer with a mini-camp for kids called Camp Champ for Kiddos.  See the June flyer at  I encourage you to register your kids and tell everyone you know about it.  From there I plan to begin Camp Champ for Families to encourage kids & parents to get active and eat healthier.  And I am always available to work with individuals and families who want to lose weight or simply live healthier.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  When I first started this blog, I ended my very first entry with a quotation from Edward Everett Hale, "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."  I asked you then to join me as I try to make a change for the better, one person at a time.  Together we can get healthy, and in the process we will add depth and breadth to our lives. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More than a Makeover, Start a Revolution

Hair with Jackie at Studio West
We have all seen the makeover shows that have taken over television these days.  We can find home makeovers, fashion makeovers, hair makeovers, even plastic surgery makeovers.  Some shows tout weight loss, diet secrets of Hollywood, and clothes that will make you look ten pounds thinner.  These shows may inspire us to want to look better, but do they inspire a revolution?  The difference between a makeover and a revolution is that a makeover involves appearance, while a revolution involves a fundamental change in the way we think and act.  The definition of makeover is “an overall treatment to improve the appearance or change the image.”  The definition of revolution is “the fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a complete change, especially in ideas or methods.”  So while it may be easy (and good for television) to slap on some makeup and spanx and call it a makeover, real change must come from within and be a true transformation – a revolution. 

If you have been keeping up with Katie’s transformation, you know that in the eight weeks of my Teen Camp Champ program, she lost nearly 20 pounds.  It has been a struggle, but it has also been rewarding for Katie.  She’s lost weight, but she has found self-confidence and strength she never knew she had.  And, part of her transformation were fashion and beauty upgrades.  My hope was that it would continue to inspire her to stay on this journey of weight loss – and to encourage the revolution Katie needs. 

Facial with Melanie

Just as a reminder, Katie received a haircut, color, & style provided by Jackie Crow at Studio West Hair Salon in Bellevue and a facial & brow shaping provided by Melanie Williams at Melanie Williams Advanced Skincare.  Also, local Bellevue residents Carey & Lori King – owners of Tickled Pink (an upscale ladies consignment boutique in Bellevue) – donated a $100.00 gift certificate.  So many people have expressed care, concern, interest, and support for Katie and I wanted to share with you some of the photos that were taken during Katie’s fashion and beauty sessions.  I am so appreciative of the generosity shown because each session made Katie feel special.  I truly hope it provides the motivation she needs to keep working hard, eating well, and losing weight. 

New dresses at Tickled Pink with Carey & Lori

I plan to continue to work with Katie and she transforms and revolutionizes her life.  It is amazing to me to think that Katie, who was morbidly obese when we began and could barely jog for 30 seconds at a time, is actually a representation of about a quarter of American teenagers.  Yes, about 25% of American teens are overweight or obese – with an additional 15% at risk for becoming overweight.  In the past 30 years, the number of obese kids & teens has tripled.  And what’s worse is that a child who is obese has an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult.  I hope to change this statistic around for Katie.  I want her to be a healthy adult capable of having lots of babies and chasing them around without getting winded.  And that will take more than a makeover, it will require a revolution. 

I also hope that I can inspire you to start a revolution.  Whether it’s for yourself, your family, or someone you care about, if you want a true transformation, a fundamental change in thoughts & actions, start a revolution.  Makeup and spanx won’t add years to your life – hard work, exercise, and healthy eating will.  If you need a fearless leader to help start your revolution, I am here for you.  I’ll go beyond improving the appearance and together we’ll make a complete change for life!  Go to to see all the ways I can help you or those you love.  And go to to get & stay healthy this summer – including camps for kids & plans for your Memorial Day parties. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Your Grit Can Always Outdo Your Talent

Determination & grit during a
high school volleyball game
I have often wondered, especially in the past year, how much of my success in life is due to my grit versus my talent.  I can honestly say that my self-developed grit will outperform my God-given talent every day of the week.  If you aren’t familiar with “grit”, it is defined as “indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution; firmness of mind or spirit; unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger”.  When a difficult situation stares you in the face, do you rely on your talent or your grit?  If you are one who thinks that your talent is the sole measure of your success, allow me to provide a few facts and stories of real people who have used their grit to reach colossal success. 

Have you ever heard of Jim Abbott?  Chances are you have seen references about this baseball phenom in movies.  Jim Abbott is a former Major League Baseball pitcher, who played despite having been born without a right hand.  He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 MLB Draft and reached the Majors the next year.  He played for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999.  He threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in 1993.   

How about Bethany Hamilton?  She is the inspiration for the recently-released movie, Soul Surfer.  She is known for surviving a shark attack in 2003 in which she lost her left arm, and for overcoming the serious and debilitating injury to return to surfing.  Just eight weeks after the incident, she returned to her board and went surfing again. In 2004 Bethany won the ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete of the Year.  She still aspires to become a professional surfer.

I can’t imagine daily life without one of my limbs, much less pitching in the MLB or surfing waves in Hawaii.  The success of Jim and Bethany can truly be attributed to their grit.  They face extreme adversity, yet they managed to seize all their talent and ability through their gritty fortitude.  Grit has proven that many people can be tremendously successful despite being labeled with so-called disabilities.  For example, Pablo Picasso, Leonard Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Jay Leno & Whoopi Goldberg all thrived despite living with dyslexia. 

Even for those of us who aren’t facing quite the adversity and challenges, grit can still outlast our talent and intelligence.  Did you know that more top CEO’s hail from state schools than from the Ivy League?  Also, the University of Pennsylvania has developed a Grit Scale to rank an individual’s level of perseverance, then used it in studies to measure the significance of grit and talent on a person’s lifetime success.  In one study, they found that of Penn students, those who tested higher on the Grit Scale earned higher GPA’s (despite scoring lower on SAT’s) than those who scored lower on the Grit Scale.  The Penn study also found that the grit measurement was a better scale over class rank, SAT score, & physical fitness for determining whether West Point cadets would make it through their first semester. 

Focused & driven - true grit on the mound
I know I have certainly used my grittiness to get me through some very tough situations.  I played sports from the time I could hold a bat.  I still have scars from diving catches, being hit by balls, sliding into bases, and digging shanked passes from the bleachers.  I can even remember one time in high school – I was pitching and I was hit by a line drive directly to my ankle.  I was only about 30-35 feet from home plate and just did not have time to get my glove down.  I actually picked up the ball and threw it to first base.  My coach and my dad both came on to the field, which was very unusual since my dad was always very subdued during games.  My ankle immediately swelled to about twice the size and they both wanted me to come out of the game.  My dad said I simply took the ball and said “No, I’m pitching.”  I was in pain, but when I was on the mound, I was focused and driven.  And that day I had every intention of finishing what I had started. 

I always tell my clients that our minds quit long before our bodies.  Even if we think we are done or the world is telling us we’re done, when everything else shuts down, grit doesn’t.  Despite failure, adversity, and plateaus, those with true grit accept the challenge, maintain effort & interest, and stay the course. 

Are you allowing your success to be limited by your talent?  Today is your day to tap into your grit.  If you need help developing grittiness, I am here to offer encouragement, advice, and hope for you.  When everything else shuts down, your grit won’t, and neither will I.  Together we’ll stay the course and find a lifetime of success.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you or those you love.  Also, subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get weekly seasonal recipes and heath tips! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother’s Day Reminds Us to Nourish & Care

As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I think about all the things we do as a result of our mother’s influence.  We were all brought into this world by a mother and most of us were raised by a mother.  Some of us this Mother’s Day will celebrate and thank our mothers for their role in raising us.  Some of us will be celebrated for giving birth to, or raising, children.  And what a lovely day to have on the calendar – a holiday to celebrate the women who have influenced our lives. 

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know I have been working with a teen girl and her mother.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this mother-daughter duo and hope I have somehow enhanced their relationship in a healthy way.  Also, I recently started working with a new client who said she had been thinking about calling me for a while.  However, the final impetus for her to call was when she realized she wanted to be a better influence for her kids so they would grow up to be healthy.  She wanted their eating habits as teens and adults to reflect the good choices she taught them while they are still young.  They are already starting to enjoy healthy recipes I have given her and they enjoy working out with her in the yard!  The oldest actually wants to learn how to do some of the moves with her!  And the food has apparently won over some of the toughest sells in the family – even the extended family! 

My Granny & Granmommie - both nourished & cared for me
Mothers are so often associated with food because that is who we depend on in our first years of life of food and nourishment.  When we think about our comfort food as adults, so many times it goes back to what our mothers or grandmothers fed us as kids.  Whether that food is lasagna or meatloaf, chances are we are comforted less by the actual food and more by the memories and feelings associated with it.  For example, for me, one of my grandmothers cooked three hot meals a day.  She didn’t work outside the home and that is what she loved to do.  She made the best breakfasts – homemade biscuits & jelly and eggs with runny yolks.  To this day, eggs are still a favorite of mine and I eat them very often for dinner.  Also, my mother was a single mom who worked multiple jobs.  While we didn’t have time for many sit-down meals, I can remember eating lots of bananas on the run.  And my maternal grandmother also had a full-time job and I can remember peanut butter being a staple food for both of her and my mother.  As an adult, I eat a banana every day and peanut or almond butter several times a week.  Lucky for me, these foods that I remember so well are not only healthful, but they are super affordable!  But, my point is, as a mother, we all have the opportunity to influence our kids by being good role models.  We often find ourselves doing things simply because our parents did.  To ensure you leave a healthy impression on your kids, make sure they see you eat (and like) lots of vegetables, eat only one piece of (not the entire) cake, and spend more time being active than sitting on the couch or at the desk.  Who says comfort food can’t be vegetable lasagna made with whole grain pasta or turkey meatloaf? 

I also encourage everyone to use this Mother’s Day as an opportunity to recognize the influence each of us is capable to have.  Whether or not you have given birth to or are raising a child, you have the opportunity to influence everyone around you.  The definition of mother as a verb is “to watch over, nourish, and protect” or “to bring up with care and affection”.  So, whether you’re male or female, whether you’ve given birth or not, everyone is capable of “mothering”.  This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to care for those you love by nourishing their bodies while also nourishing their souls.  Each of us will leave our impact on this world and we each have a legacy leave.  Let’s make sure it is a happy one and a healthful one! 

Need help finding ways to nourish and care for your loved ones?  Go to to subscribe to my weekly newsletter!  Or give me a call and I will help you personally!