Saturday, September 14, 2013

National Childhood Obesity Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Month, so I'm postponing my myofascial release blog another week because this is an important topic. I guess we could start by saying that it’s upsetting that we have to have a month dedicated to obesity in kids. This is not just an adult problem anymore. Neither is Type II diabetes. Or high cholesterol. Or high blood pressure.

What is obesity, what are the complications, and who is at risk?  

Those are the details from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but basically, folks, obesity is bad, and it can give you old people problems at a young age. It can keep you from enjoying the life you want to live, it can give you more doctor visits, it means more medications, and it can shorten your life. And life is already too short.

The stats:
French fries...they taste yummy... but "french fries"
should not be in a toddler's vocabulary! I know,
he's so cute, you just want to give him whatever
he wants....but, don't.
¤ Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and more then tripled in adolescents in the last 30 years
¤ Currently, more than 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight or obese
¤ It is hard to predict the incidence of Type II diabetes in children because it can go underdiagnosed for a long time, but we are diagnosing it more and more
¤ 1 in 8 preschoolers in the U.S. is obese!!!! Preschoolers!!! AGE TWO to FOUR!!! 
¤ If you’re a minority, then that number goes up—1 in 5 black children and 1 in 6 Latino children are obese.
¤ These obese preschoolers are 5 times more likely as normal-weight preschoolers to be overweight or obese as adults

Adults:  you can watch how obesity has grown in America among adults since 1991 if you go to this page and scroll down: It’s kind of like watching The Day After Tomorrow or some apocalypse movie where they show how the end of the world will occur in 72 hours after the storm of the century or the zombies or whatever encompasses more and more of the globe. We have an obesity apocalypse approaching… 

What is going ON, America??!!  Let’s fix it!

What the AAP recommends to help preschoolers: 

Some of my own tips…

Family Fitness: Be a Role Model, Encourage Your Whole Family to Lead an Active Lifestyle

1. Take the stairs and encourage others to do so. It’s not enough to lose weight (unless you work in a football stadium), but it’s not enough to curb those little extras that you don’t always account for, and it’s enough to get a mid-day energy boost and contribute to your goals of staying active and healthy. Feeling a little winded after 3 flights? Maybe that’s the extra motivation you need not to skip the gym tonight ;)

2. City commuters, get off your mode of transit (bus, subway, etc.) 2 stops early and walk the rest of the way home.

3. Commute with your bike in nice weather (Refer to last blog for helmet incentives and bicycle riding safety).

4. Get a real lunch break every day? Grab a co-worker and go for a walk/jog/run! You can eat a PB&J on the way and get some fresh air and sunshine AND feel more rejuvenated going into your afternoon when you might usually feel sluggish.

5. Take your kids to the park after work/school. A healthy and active lifestyle should be a family thing! Remember, parents are the ultimate role models for their kids, especially when they’re younger. Walk to the park together, play soccer, play football, walk or jog a loop at the park while your kid rides his scooter or bicycle. They love any time with you; why not make some of it the active time that you both need?

6. Sign up for a race! I signed up for my first race (a 5k) because I wanted to raise money for the American Heart Association. I had never ran more than a mile in a timed situation in my life, and after that first 5k, I was hooked. If you need a purpose, find an organization, find a friend, find a co-worker, join a team, start a club. Find what works for you and will get you training for your event on those snowy winter days or those dreary mornings when you would rather sleep in. A race gives you a deadline (some of us are just procrastinators and need that motivation to stay fit). Make a goal and go for it! (They have fun-runs and other races for kids, too! Look for later blogs on what exercises are best for what age kids.)

7. My new favorite—you have to think this is cool even if you don’t want one immediately…  Your phone lost its charge today? Go for a bike and recharge your phone as well as your body and mind J

It’s not all about exercise (although I am a huge fan of exercise). It’s also about nutrition. Having a healthy lifestyle means staying active AND eating healthily. Eating hamburgers and fries and drinking milkshakes catches up even to an Ironman athlete exercising 5-8 hours a day, trust me. A calorie really is a calorie, so apps for your phone like LoseIt and MyFitnessPal are great with figuring out how many calories you should have per day for your activity, body weight, and fitness goals. They’ll also help you keep track of how you’re doing each day, week to week, and over time. I highly recommend them for weight loss or for maintaining your current weight. You can add your activity and glasses of water per day, too. It’s like positive reinforcement, right on your phone, and you can add workout and weight-loss friends. Stay fit together! Here are some more tips…

Nutrition Tips:

1. Go Green
¤ if you can eat your 5 servings of vegetables a day, you are well on your way to eating healthily.

2. Add fruits for your sweet tooth.
¤ 2-3 fruits a day instead of those cookies and chocolate candies and ice cream you’ve been craving, and you will feel better and realize the wonder of nature’s own sugars! And, no, fruit juice ABSOLUTELY does not count, and no, you do not ever need it in your fridge. It’s the same thing as soda (BAD, sugary beverage, don’t drink it).

3. Know your weaknesses. And make your own remedies.
I have the worst sweet tooth known to man. It gets worse when I’m stressed out, working really long hours, working the night shift, or don’t find time for a workout that day. A dessert once a week won’t kill you (especially if you rev up your cardio that day or if you know that the rest of the day will be lots of low-calorie fruits and vegetables). So a dessert once in a while is my remedy…or a small piece of chocolate as a treat. I also have learned that if I eat all the fruits and veggies I am supposed to each day, I am honestly too full and have fewer dessert cravings. Hint, hint: fruits are actually sweet! Eat them J

4. Protein
It’s important, but don’t go nuts, folks. Protein bars and drinks can have a ton of extra calories that you don’t need unless you’re a body builder or trying to gain weight. Know your supplements, and know that you probably don’t need to supplement if you get your protein from a few servings of lean protein per day. How much do you need?
A general rule is 0.8g protein / kg body weight per day. If you are very active and do a lot of strength training, then 1.0-1.2 g protein / kg body weight is more like it.
Protein can help with sweet cravings, and it can also help you stay full longer, but, like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “choose wisely.” Chicken, fish, low-fat dairy, beans/legumes. Red meat is a treat, once per week or in small servings. Get your iron from leafy greens that are lower in calories.

5. Follow the new and improved food pyramid:

Or the food plate:

6. Stay active.
¤I like the pyramid because it actually includes what we talked about at the beginning—staying active.
¤ 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise each and every day à seems easier said than done but start small and work up and you will realize that you feel better and actually eat healthier when trying to fit in workouts. Want a hamburger and fries for lunch? Probably not a good idea if you are meeting your friend for a run after work…your GI tract will thank you later for making a healthier choice! ;)
¤ Water is your friend! Avoid diuretics (coffee and tea make you pee!) and try to get in 10-12 glasses of water a day. You will feel much better, and you will realize that sometimes your brain is actually trying to tell you that it’s thirsty when you think it’s hungry. ;)

What the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for fighting the obesity epidemic, one family at a time:

Until next time, stay healthy my friends.