Thirteen year old Daniel’s four weeks at Camp Jump Start have turned into much more than the pounds and inches he lost. They have turned into a roadmap to better health for Daniel and his entire family.
In his four week session this summer Daniel lost 17 pounds and 13 inches off of his body. His fitness improved as well. When he first arrived he ran a mile in 17:22 minutes but on the last day of camp he had shaved almost 5 minutes off his time. His confidence grew and his smile got bigger.
Once he returned home he could not wait to go clothes shopping for school. This year he would not have to shop in the husky department and could wear what his classmates were wearing without feeling fat. Well-fitted clothes also gave him a way to gauge when he was veering off course. His family vowed not to buy bigger clothes if the new clothes became tight, so when the clothes began to feel uncomfortable Daniel recognized that he had to up his commitment. He would have to exercise more and skip the foods that were causing the weight gain. The feel of how his clothes fit was a practical reminders and motivator to stay on course.
Daniel’s changes led to bigger changes at home; he was eager to share what he had learned. Daniel took the lead in helping his family make lifestyle changes. To be successful they would have to work together. Daniel was their role model and he inspired everyone around him because he had worked hard ant that hard work paid off in reaching his goal.
While this new way of living began at camp, his parents were serious about helping Daniel so they completed their own homework. They cleaned out all the junk food from the kitchen cabinets and bought smaller plates and tall, skinny glasses. They re-set their kitchen by replicating the Camp Jump Start system. They had prepped foods for quick meal assembly in the refrigerator. They bought measuring cups to keep the family honest with portion control. They centralized all electronics in their family room removing televisions and computers from the bedrooms. They also set up the charging station for cell phones in the family room so that no one slept with phones next to their bed any longer.
Daniel came home and helped meal plan. The family began making a shopping list before going to the store and then stuck to buying only the items on the shopping list. This saved them money. They would have 4 days worth of food with mainly fruits and vegetables readily available. This would mean an extra trip to the grocery store in a week but they were willing to make this habit change. It was a surprise when they became efficient at shopping and stopping for groceries became a quick trip saving them time for other activities. They would also prep the food once they returned home so that it was ready for busy nights. They had their own “fast food” always ready which really cut down on family stress. They began to realize that they had been over-scheduling the family with activities that really were not as important as their own family time.
Soda became a thing of the past in this household. Each family member had a water bottle that they took with them everywhere they traveled. The beverage of choice was always water with green tea a close second. When water became boring then they added some fruit or vegetables in it to add a little more flavor which can be refreshing. They no longer missed or craved the soda that they once automatically chose. The family rule was three meals and one snack.
Breakfast was always steel cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of milled flaxseeds and some berry on top. Soy milk was their dairy of choice.
Every family member took a bag lunch to work or school which always included a salad. Instead of feeling like a freak, they became the example of healthy living. People began to copy them when they saw it was an easy switch to something that tasted good and was easy.
Dinners always began with a soup or salad. The plate was covered in ½ cooked vegetables. They began slowly with one meal a week being meatless. As time went on and meal planning with new plant-based recipes was made easy then these meatless meals became more common. They had no idea how good it could all taste!
That ONE snack either came from the fruit bowl after school or they all saved it for a dessert that they all shared following dinner.
Special occasions-which the family defined together-allowed for an extra snack.
It was important that the body had time in between meals to rest and repair instead of constantly digesting food. Grazing became a thing of the past for Daniel’s family. They would all brush their teeth after dinner signaling that eating for the day was over. Then the body really had time to concentrate on time to heal itself.
Every Friday the entire family weighs themselves in front of each other before breakfast. They keep a chart hanging in the bathroom closet. This keeps them accountable to their new lifestyle. If they maintain their weight, they celebrate with mini-rewards from a goody bag containing small coupons for outings and family events that they had brainstormed together. The coupon might be redeemable for a pick a game night, a trip to the theatre or a park outing. All the coupons are family-based activities. If they lose more weight, they receive TWO coupons that week. The weigh ins evolved from seeming like a punishment to a time for anticipation with reward for hard work. The family also has a long term goal which includes a family get-away if they all maintain their success for a year.
Every day they track their activities on a family calendar.The rule is that no one goes to bed without having 10,000 steps listed on their pedometer. Sometimes that means climbing the basement steps over and over. They each decided out to fulfill their fitness requirements whether it meant going to the gym or playing on a sports or dance team. Steps were non-negotiable and everyone agreed to this. Peer pressure for not letting the family record slip was a great motivator because no one wanted to be known as the “slacker”.
Daniel has now lost 33 pounds total. He has no signs of heart disease or diabetes. He has energy and a newfound zest for life. He is looking forward to the school year instead of dreading it like so many overweight or obese kids do. He has friends. He has what all parents wish for their child-health and happiness.
To date, the family of four has lost a total of 112 pounds. They are feeling better than ever and are a tight knit family. They are enjoying life. Whenever they start to return to old habits, they simply have a family meeting at breakfast on Friday morning following weigh-in. They make a toast with their big glass of water in the tall, skinny glasses to health and happiness. They are immediately back on their healthy lifestyle roadmap and this one healthy choice will lead to other healthy choices throughout the day. They know that the only time you fail is when you quit trying and they committed to make today count.
Today, our modern lifestyle has us suffering from degenerative and life shortening diseases. Our uninformed, uneducated and deliberate choices are killing us!
Guys, let’s face it, when it comes to going to doctors for preventative care, you are the pits! Sure you have your reasons. “I don’t want someone pointing the obvious out to me,” you say. “It’s a waste of time because I know the doctor is going to tell me to change the way I eat, or to start exercising or stop smoking.” You are convinced that you are not going to make the changes anyway so why bother.
Your female counterparts are doing a much better job of self-care. A national survey found a woman is three times more likely to see a health professional on a regular basis compared to a man. It is a fact that a woman will schedule a doctor appointment more often than a man; yet, men cost our society much more for medical care beyond age 65. All too often men are opting out of preventative care and instead wait until a medical crisis occurs which may include hospitalizations, surgery and rehabilitative services and this can be costly. There goes not only your personal health but also your family’s financial health!
Avoiding doctor’s visits and putting your head in the sand regarding healthy lifestyle choices puts you at greater risk for life altering diseases. Instead of making simple changes to diet and lifestyle you increase the possibility of being diagnosed with one of the top 10 leading causes of disability and death related to lifestyle choices. Ignoring the warning signs of these conditions puts you at risk for undesirable and likely permanent life change for you and your entire family.
Did you know that high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 360,000 Americans in 2013 – that’s nearly 1,000 deaths each day? The numbers are likely worse today!
Did you know that 79 million people live with pre-diabetes? The numbers are growing with 25 million people in the U.S. already having the disease and 7 million of these do not even realize they have it!
Did you know that a woman has a 38 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer and if you are a man that risk increases to a 45 percent chance in your lifetime?
Did you know that the projected number of people suffering from dementia in 2030 will be 75.6 million people and it is expected to triple by 2050 to 135.5 million people?
What about the cure? If you have heart disease, diabetes, cancer or dementia, don’t you want the cure? Understand this–the cure is not coming! Sick care is BIG business so you will find new treatments, new procedures and new products only.
The best health care is SELF-care. And whether you are a woman or a man let today be the day you choose wisely. Take baby steps to improve your diet and lifestyle. Begin seeing a health care professional routinely so issues can be addressed and warning signs can be identified then maybe you can avoid these diseases all together. Prevention is not a 100 percent guarantee of good health, but small changes in life can help prevent a medical crisis.
A man taking care of his health makes a positive impact on the whole family. Kids look to their parents for examples of how to live. If you live a healthy lifestyle so will your kids.
Phil* was determined to keep his New Year’s Resolution to go to the gym. He heard a lot of chatter about the importance of protein, especially among the muscle bound gym rats who can dead lift a small nation. He was curious so he asked how he too could have bulging muscles. Their advice was based on good intentions and a desire to help a fellow gym buddy. The problem is, their advice was not based on sound nutrition and in fact could cause more harm that good. They were sharing what they were told and are now practicing. But it is simply not true.
The fact is that Americans get far more protein than they need. Americans eat on average 100 grams of protein per day, which is almost double the recommended daily allowance. More is not better! People eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) often take in an excess of 30 percent (and higher) of their calories from protein. Most of the protein we consciously choose comes from animal products. Yet, this type of protein will deplete calcium from our bones, increase the work on our kidneys, add stress on our heart and promotes cancer. Just to name a few of the concerns surrounding the consumption of excess protein.
We all started at the same point in elementary school where we were taught that the body needs protein to build muscle. Then we quit learning. Human nutrition is likely the subject that most people know the least about and this includes many health professionals treating disease caused by excesses and deficiencies in our diet. It is also the very subject that determines how we live our life.
It’s time to re-evaluate what we thought we knew and expand our knowledge from reliable sources whose education and life work revolves around nutrition.
But don’t take my word for it-
Joel Fuhrman MD, board certified physician and president of the Nutritional Research Foundation, who was himself an Olympic athlete, asked which has more protein-oatmeal, ham, or a tomato? According to Dr. Fuhrman, the truth is that they all have about the same protein per calorie! Investigate a little further and you will begin to see the benefits of your new way of thinking. The ham comes with extra saturated fat and cholesterol which we can agree is not good for you. In addition, the pig used up all the micronutrients that our bodies needed! On the other hand, the oatmeal and tomato have fiber and other powerful micronutrients, so it is a bigger bang for your buck.
There is an outdated belief that plant protein is incomplete and it must be mixed and matched to obtain what the human body needs. This again is simply not true.
Almost any assortment of plant foods contains about 30-40 grams of protein per 1,000 calories. If your caloric needs are met with these plants then your protein needs are automatically met as well. Focus on eating natural plant-based whole foods then forget about the protein debate. Plant protein is different from animal or processed protein. Your body will take what it needs from plant protein and get rid of the excess.
Do athletes need more protein? If they are training intensely for several hours per day or are heavy weight lifters, this may be true. But they also need more of everything else like: extra fat, extra carbohydrates, and extra micronutrients! Their increased appetite will take in the needed additional calories and meet their other dietary needs as long as they are eating healthy plant-based whole foods instead of high calorie junk food. For example, Nathaniel Jordan is a body builder and world-class powerlifter who eats a totally plant-based diet. He does not supplement with protein powder or worry about his protein intake. He is a world class athlete. Weighing 165 pounds, with about 5 percent body fat, Nathaniel can bench press 275 pounds, squat 445 pounds and deadlift 600 pounds – and counting. Most of the people working out next to you in the gym are not full-time athletes, so if Nathaniel does not need the extra protein then neither do you or your gym buddies.
What builds muscle?Strength training builds muscle. If you want to have well defined and big muscles then you have to put in the time just like your well-meaning gym buddies who always seem to be at the gym and work out consistently.
Back to Phil*Phil is the name of a dear colleague of mine. He and I would have intense discussions on his protein powder habit. In the short term, his muscles were big and even though he worked out hard, Phil was convinced that the protein powder was responsible for his success. I won the debate but lost a dear friend – Phil’s life was cut short when he died of kidney failure at a very young age. His doctors said it was Phil’s type of protein and the excess intake that destroyed his kidneys. The problem with kidney failure is you may not recognize the symptoms until it is too late. Phil did a lot of good in the world and the world is a bit empty without him. In memory of Phil, I hope someone reading this will re-evaluate their own protein intake. The science is out there if you look at reputable sources without any conflict of interest. That is the key to all information in the world today…you must follow the money in order to find the truth.
Cathy’s life revolved around food. She was always hungry and thinking about what she would eat next. Driving past fast food joints, she heard them calling out to her. If she ate one cookie then she needed the whole box. Her soda cup was refilled over and over as if were bottomless. There was never enough to satisfy her desire. She jokingly told people that she was addicted to food.
But food addictions are not a joke. They are very real and only recently recognized as a component in our obesity epidemic. According to many nutritional scientists,
5 -10% of our population is addicted to one food or another. Our experience at Camp Jump Start suggests that number is closer to 70 – 80%! It is a very real problem.
Unfortunately, food addiction is left mostly untreated because there is a social stigma attached and many people blame the victim for lacking will power and self-control.
Cathy is NOT to blame. She has an addiction to the mind altering chemicals placed in our food intentionally and, for her, food is just as deadly as drug and alcohol abuse. When she dies, the cause of death will be listed as heart disease, cancer, diabetes or dementia. There will be no mention of the real cause of her death which will be due to food addiction and obesity.
Education alone does not take care of the problem. A food addict needs support and the most difficult step in recovery is just starting the process. Human nature wants us to “wait until tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes! The addict knows that what they are doing is destructive and yet they cannot stop themselves. It is a vicious cycle. A food addict will continue to sabotage themselves and make excuses to cover up their behavior until they hit rock bottom. Rock bottom may mean a broken relationship, medical condition or a monumental number on the scale but it all leads to the same place. Despair!
A food addict loses hope for the future and lives just for the moment in order to escape despair. They quit trying not because of lack of control but because they come to believe that this is their fault. Why try when you know you will fail?
In most cases, just like drug and alcohol addiction, it will take 12 weeks for the powerful addiction to subside. And these substances are far worse than cocaine, heroin or whiskey. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol and go through rehab then you understand that you may never touch the stuff again.
But food is a different story. We all have to eat and the most addictive substances—sugar, salt or fat—are in everything! As a society we are addicted to highly processed foods which make us feel good when we eat them and then we suffer when we have to go without. Just like an alcoholic or drug abuser, food addicts need more and more of the same food to get the desired effect as the last time they used it. Drugs, alcohol, sugar, salt or fat substances enter the bloodstream quickly. This happens so rapidly that the body cannot burn the energy so it is cleared from the blood and immediately stored as fat. Pleasure is felt for a short time after eating the addictive food but the long term consequences last. A study published in “Public Health Nutrition” that consumers of these fast foods compared to those that ate little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression and the more you eat it then the greater the risk. The cycle continues.
You must get through withdrawal of these substances to allow healing to begin. Withdrawal may last a week or two and you have to just get through it. Withdrawal means a food addict suffers with headaches, shakiness, weakness and stomach issues. Just like any addict the symptoms occur when you are not using, so a food addict will immediately feel better when they eat. They get relief when they are eating the specific trigger foods they crave.
Food addicts have their own delusions believing that they can eat small amounts of the food that they are addicted to. Sugar, salt or fat will feed the need. Instead the addict will fall “off the wagon” very quickly as this thinking is a slippery slope. The only way to be free of the addiction is to stay free from the food. This means that under NO circumstance may you eat that particular food ever again. Every time you stop then you start over. Quitting bad habits will be uncomfortable at first. Detoxification is painful but you can recover from food addiction if you set yourself up for success.
If you always do what you always did then you will always get what you always got! What Cathy needs is a safety net so that she can experience success from day one and build a support system. The key to Cathy’s recovery from food addiction is to just start!
Identify the addiction—sugar, salt or fat?
Get the food out of the house and vow never to buy it again.
Find whole food substitutes that you will like and have readily available.
Seek a safe place to learn about nutrition and get through withdrawal to build your community.
Claudia is 11 years old and she has changed. The once outgoing child is now refusing to come out of her bedroom. Her grades have dropped. She has quit all after school activities. She does not sing happy songs or smile any more. And Claudia is gaining weight….a lot of it!
Claudia’s parents are getting divorced. Claudia has been left alone with her feelings and she is having a difficult time coping. She is dealing with the situation in the only way that she knows how.
When Claudia was a baby and her parents put her down for a nap, sometimes she was fussy. Her parents would check to see if she had a dirty diaper, if she needed to be burped, if she was too hot or too cold, and when all else failed, they fed her again. This taught Claudia that when she was uncomfortable and all else failed to make her feel better then she should eat. It makes sense that in all this turmoil Claudia is gaining weight. Divorce is painful for everyone involved, but who is taking care of the children when parents are having a hard enough time taking care of themselves? In many cases the parents revert back to childish ways with personal attacks and outright fights in front of the child. This is very confusing and frightening.
Parents must recognize and address the needs of each child in the family and not all children will react in the same way at the same time on the same day. Each child needs even more support when faced with this stress so if a parent is unable to provide this support due to their own emotional state then they MUST find resources for their children.
A child may become defiant in all areas of their life. They will throw tantrums or have catastrophic reactions in the simplest of circumstances. A parent may be called into school to address the child’s unusual behavior or plummeting grades. The child may experience sleeping disorders including insomnia or night terrors. They may live out their fears through nightmares, many children will be convinced that their greatest fears will come true. All of this is terrifying for a child. The child’s eating patterns may also change. Many children will quit eating while others will use food for comfort. The child may develop physical aches and pains that are very real for the child and due to their emotional state, this may make it difficult for a definitive diagnosis. Physical complaints should never be dismissed without investigation. The child may regress to comfort measures that include baby talk, thumb sucking, hair twirling and they may become very clingy. Some children may even return to wetting the bed. A change in personality may be noted and they may become very rigid in their routines.
This child desperately wants to return to a time when they felt safe and the parents took care of them. They are attempting to console and soothe themselves. When a child does not feel safe, the world is a very scary place and they need trusted people in their life-make certain that these people are trustworthy so no one takes advantage of your child during this chaotic time. When scared, most children want reassurance from physical touch and the child will search for it even if it means becoming promiscuous. The child may also seek to self-medicate using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain that they feel. They may develop anxiety, panic attacks along with depression. They may seek ways to escape this pain displaying extreme, daredevil behavior almost as a death wish or they may consider suicide as a viable option in ending their suffering permanently.
Kids live for today. They do not see tomorrow and that is why adults must be active in their lives. Adults have to watch out for the children until the child grows and develops into a responsible adult. This takes many years and cannot be sped up. Yet, when a family breaks up from divorce many times the child is forced to take on adult roles that they just are not ready to undertake. It is too overwhelming for them and they feel all alone.
Claudia needed to know that she was not the only child experiencing this life altering situation. During Camp Jump Start she was able to participate in small group discussion where she heard stories from other youth who were experiencing similar circumstances. She no longer felt alone. In an attempt to help Claudia through her grief, the book “Divorce: Did You Even Think About Me? Letters of Hurt and Healing” was written. It is a book that explores the effects of divorce on children, from the child’s point of view. Through the eyes of children of divorce, a new perspective emerges showing how their lives are affected, often more than the lives of the people who are divorcing.
This book will help a child realize that they are not alone. The child will find that their emotions are normal and may find comfort from one of the responses in the book from a child who is in a similar circumstance. This book will also help adults hear the voice of their child when they consider divorce. Divorce must be a last resort after all else fails in trying to solve adult problems. Hopefully one of these stories will resonate and give guidance during this difficult period in life for all involved. We must always remember it is not the child’s fault and they need the parent to take care of them, and if the parent cannot, then the parent needs to find someone who can help the child. The ending of this book also comes from the children’s collective thoughts when divorce is necessary. If we listen, the child will always tell us what they need.
Common knowledge would say that high blood pressure is a grown-up’s disease. This sometimes silent killer leads to strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure and kidney failure. Sadly, not only are our children’s waist sizes growing but their blood pressures are steadily climbing as well. Even small increases in blood pressure during childhood predict big problems down the line. What we know for sure is long-term excess dietary sodium (salt) promotes excessive cell growth, leading to thickening of the blood vessel walls leading to stiff vessels.
As we welcomed a group of 159 campers to Camp Just Start last summer, we were alarmed to see that almost 100% of them had high blood pressure and almost 100% of the parents did not know it.
Hypertension is the result of either increased resistance to blood flow or increased blood volume or both. The heart must work harder to push more blood through the body’s circulatory system so it can deliver the needed oxygen to all the cells. And hypertension is also on the rise in children related to their sedentary lifestyle and learned food preferences. A cascade of occurrences is making their bodies malfunction. Weight gain is just the beginning.
Our first line of defense must be to tackle the underlying cause of this problem. There are many factors that contribute to this startling news.
The first is our sedentary lifestyle. Activity is so important to our children for so many reasons. Exercise increases nitric oxide in our blood which relaxes smooth muscle in the artery wall. This will dilate the blood vessels and will bring blood pressure down. To keep our children healthy we need to keep them physically active. At Camp Jump Start we suggest that for every hour of screen time—whether it be cell phone, laptop or television then they must be active for the same amount of time.
The second is poor food choices. We all know when we are eating things that we shouldn’t. But maybe we don’t realize that some of the foods we consider healthier choices are contributing to an unhealthy diet. Did you know that a cup of corn flakes or two slices of white bread has more sodium than 20 potato chips? Corn flakes and white bread do not taste salty but potato chips do. Sodium is hidden in the processed foods, so taste is not a reliable indicator of salt intake. We have to choose wisely.
And it is not just in the foods we choose at home. Over 80% of our sodium comes in processed foods or is added by the cooks in your favorite restaurant. Our body needs 300-500mg of sodium to live, but those eating out a lot may be getting as much as 6,000 mg or more. Recommendations on daily sodium intake have changed in recent years from various health agencies. Camp Jump Start proactively teaches children and families to decrease their sodium levels to around 1200 mg per day.
Remember: salt is salt. Any word combination that says “sodium” counts. The goal for all of us, whether the parent or the child is to take charge of our health and make informed decisions.
Read labels! Sodium in foods should be less than the calories in the food. If the sodium is 60 mg then the serving should not have more than 60 calories in it.
Get rid of your salt shaker! Do not add any salt to your food. It will take at least 6- 12 weeks for your taste buds to lose the salt addiction!
Cook and eat more meals at home-it can help your budget and your blood pressure.
Instead of treating symptoms, we must get to the cause of the problem to earn our health back.
As the New Year begins, many of us will resolve to change some of our not-so-good habits. One of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape. We believe that if only we were a few pounds lighter then we would look and feel a lot better.
But hey, maybe you are one of the lucky ones…you do not need to lose weight because your doctor said your weight is within the normal range. You can eat the standard American diet and watch your calories so you don’t even have to exercise to stay thin. You do not have anything to worry about, right?
WRONG! There is an insidious and growing problem that is called TOFI, which means thin on the outside but fat on the inside. You are at high risk if you live and eat like the noticeably overweight people in your family. You are TOFI when your weight is normal but your body mass index shows a high ratio of fat to muscle. The fat may not show on the outside but it is there. It is the worst kind of fat too because it is deep on the inside. It surrounds and thrives in your heart, muscle, liver and all your internal organs. The fat interferes with bodily functions and causes disease. TOFI means you are at increased risk for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver and other complications just like any obese person—only you do not realize it unless you understand TOFI.
This high ratio of fat to muscle is called “overfat”. According to the scientific journal Frontiers in Public Health-90% of men, 80% of women and up to 50% of children in 30 developed countries are overfat. It is caused by our lifestyle choices. We sit too much engaged in some form of sedentary activity—television, computer screens/ games and cell phones. Our bodies were not meant to sit. We were designed for movement and motion. This lack of muscle use combined with a highly processed and fast food diet is the recipe for disaster in an individual’s life.
Many parents send their children to Camp Jump Start because they want to “fix” their overweight child but they do not realize that their thin child is just as at risk. Michala came to camp to lose 20 pounds. Her parents also sent her sister, Kaci, to camp because Michala was afraid to come alone. They did not realize that Kaci was at risk, too. Upon arriving at camp and during the health assessment by a nurse, Kaci’s mom was horrified when the nurse looked at the back of Kaci’s neck. She was embarrassed because she thought Kaci had neglected to wash well. This dark patch under Kaci’s long hair was not dirt. The nurse noted that Kaci had acanthosis nigricans. This is a dark pigment that appears leathery or velvety located usually on the neck, under the arms, in the groin area or over a joint. It cannot be scrubbed off. This was a warning sign that Kaci was heading towards Type 2 Diabetes. She was insulin resistant and her body was not using her blood sugar and insulin normally.
In 4 weeks this dark ring disappeared. Kaci’s insulin resistance had reversed with her new lifestyle. She was eating real food and sleeping well. She was active 60 minutes each day and used her own body weight for a strength training program three times per week. She had more energy and seemed more engaged in life.
Extra fat whether you can see it or not is dangerous. If you now realize that you may be at risk for being TOFI because of your lifestyle choices then we encourage you to do just like Kaci:
Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
Participate in a strength training routine at least three times per week.
Aim for 60 minutes of activity EVERY day that requires you to breathe hard and sweat.
Food choices are most important in preventing and reversing disease.
Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.
Eat less animal products including dairy, processed and refined foods.
No matter your size, you and everyone around you will benefit greatly from making healthier habits this New Year. Frankly, your life depends on it!
What a year it has been! Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, the wildfires in California and manmade atrocities have kept us glued to television, computers and cell phone screens recently. We watched the horrific events unfold in real time and saw our fellow Americans suffering in ways that were unimaginable. This was our nation under attack by wind, water, fire and fury. No matter where we live, we all were touched by it.
Near and far, people jumped into action immediately. Those close by, went to the disaster areas with little regard for their own safety to assist in rescues. Others from further away began collecting items and money to send to those in need. And yet others, who were paralyzed by what they saw at first, are now getting involved in relief efforts as the need continues and the first responders grow weary. This is American’s selfless spirit, true today as it has always been. Americans reach out when help is needed.We are a generous people.
One well recognized way to address need is through charities. They are typically started by people with a passion for the cause and a desire to help others…to put an end to some form of suffering. Typically the charity is started on a shoestring.There is no government or agency funding to start up a charity. There is no budget in the beginning to pay people for their work. There is no financial assistance from anyone but the founders and their family and friends. This is how a charity is born and this is how a charity survives. The charity grows and becomes sustainable only as it makes more and more friends who are willing to give of themselves and end that suffering for another. Everyday people do this by investing their own time and money in order to be that change and work towards a brighter vision for humanity.
In response to the disasters in the news, we came together as a nation to aid those citizens who lost so much. As individuals we joined together and became a force to overcome the obstacles to meet the needs of our own people. Each of us did what we could do.
The holiday season is upon us and it is the time of year that most of us typically give to charities. This year we are all called to do more. We are called to give in spite of the fact that we may have given so much already to the people who were impacted by the hurricanes and fires.
Many of your favorite charities may be worried, and rightfully so, that the donations you have recently given for these national events may hamper your willingness or ability to give to your local charities. You may be thinking, “Charity X won’t even miss the $20 gift I give them annually.”
But for smaller charities, nothing could be further from the truth. Those $20 donations are exactly what are needed to keep the doors open. Organizations count on your gifts as their base of support for continuing their mission. Charities make their ends meet mainly because of individual gifts and not funding from a large corporation, collaboration or government entity. Every penny does count when it is added to another and another as it all adds up. Your gift does make a difference!
From the lessons that we have learned from all of these catastrophic events, may this holiday season be a time of healing for us all. May we cast aside our difference of opinions and focus on what unites us. May we count our blessings as we hold our families close. May we reach out to get to know our neighbors again and form our own support circle. May we continue to support those charities in our community so that they will be available to help those we know and love. And for those suffering in the national disasters, may we continue to help them as they rebuild their own lives. May we always remember that it is in giving that we receive. And may we never forget – Americans shine when standing together!
Cindy’s mom watched her daughter gain significant weight in a short period of time during high school. This concerned her as it would any parent. Her mom urged her to attend Camp Jump Start, a summer residential healthy lifestyle/weight loss camp. Cindy refused until she saw her weight continue to rise and her health continue to deteriorate as she began to develop signs of diabetes.
Cindy is not alone. According to a study published last year by JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 50% of adults living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes and many do not even know it. The journal Pediatric Obesity predicts by 2025, if no preventative measures have been able to combat childhood obesity, there will be 91 million obese children in the world; which will also increase all obesity-related illnesses, including diabetes, to catastrophic levels. No mother wants this for her child!
Diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce and use its own insulin well enough to control the sugar in your blood. When you have high blood sugar then your smallest blood vessels are damaged and this leads to:
Infections and amputations
Cindy came to camp at age 17, weighing over 200 pounds. In her 8 weeks in the program, she lost 30 pounds, and gained the education and life skills she needed to continue her healthy lifestyle at home. Her signs of diabetes disappeared. Over the following year at college, she lost another 50 pounds.
Cindy returned to camp as a camp counselor, eager to inspire other kids and teens to eat right, get vigorous exercise, and feel good about themselves. She has maintained her weight loss for almost half her adult life now and has a healthy attitude about her lifestyle.She reversed her diabetes and it has never returned!
It started with a mom’s concerns, a teenager’s resistance and ended happily with a commitment to learn and make lifestyle changes that have improved her life and give her control of her future.
These kinds of lifestyle changes can help you prevent diabetes:
Lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight if you are overweight
Portion control what you eat to the actual serving size
Read food labels for serving sizes – Be careful as they DO try to trick you!
Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in sugar and fat
Include at least 30 minutes of “Push Yourself Activity” every day
It helps you lose weight
Lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol
Helps you use insulin by getting the blood sugar to the muscle instead of harming the blood vessel
Did you know in just health care costs…
A child on the verge of being a diabetic can have additional medical bills of $6,000 per year?
A child diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes can have additional medical bills of $20,000 per year?
Another way to understand what is going on in your body:
Think of it like your car. You notice the gas gauge is close to empty so you pull into the gas station. You notice that the diesel fuel is six cents a gallon cheaper than the gasoline. Not knowing any better and wanting to get the most for your money, you pull up to the diesel pump and you fill up with diesel. You turn on the ignition and the car coughs and sputters. You put the car in gear and it shutters and jerks along then stops. You get out of the car and you see black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. Your car has to be towed to the garage and you tell the mechanic, “My car broke down right as I left the gas station.” The mechanic asks, “What are you using for fuel?” and you say, “Diesel.” He says, “I have an idea, try gasoline.” So he drains the diesel which is kerosene out of the gas tank. They clean off the spark plugs and fill the tank up with premium gasoline. Now you turn on the engine and it runs great. “Oh, that mechanic is so smart. He fixed my car.” The car was not broken. The engine was clogged up then malfunctioned because the diesel fuel was not the right fuel source.The car’s fuel system was not designed to run on the cheaper fuel and it caused the car to breakdown.
Thus goes the human body. The standard American diet (SAD) is the wrong fuel for our bodies. We will not see a change in our health until we eat the right fuel then our body will run efficiently. To change the diabetes epidemic we must change the way we eat BEFORE we get the disease. Historically we treat the symptoms of diabetes, isn’t it time we take care of the cause?
Hippocrates, a Greek physician in the 4th century, said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It was true then and it is just as true today.
This is easily noted when in the 1700’s sailors recognized that those who ate citrus fruit were able to avoid the disease known as scurvy and those that missed out on the citrus fruit developed scurvy. When those sailors with scurvy were given citrus fruit, they became well again. It was the Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in the citrus fruit that was needed by the body to function properly. It seems so easy in hindsight to be the detective in the scurvy case but at the time it was not so obvious.
We learned from this history that there is a definite link between nutrients in food and disease. Given our Standard American Diet (appropriately called SAD) it is no wonder that heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia rates are skyrocketing!
Did you know that 75 percent of children ages 7 -11 already have beginning signs of heart disease in their blood vessels? Yes you read that correctly–3 out of 4 children are already sick!
Did you know that 79 million people live with prediabetes? The numbers are growing with 25 million people in the U. S. already having the disease and 7 million of these do not even know they have it yet!
Did you know that a woman has a 38 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer and if you are a man that risk increases to a 45 percent chance in his lifetime?
Did you know that the projected number of people suffering from dementia in 2030 will be 75.6 million people and it is expected to triple by 2050 to 135.5 million people?
Do you understand that this is not normal? Our modern lifestyle is making us sick!
We sit too much and eat without thinking. Then we wonder why we are sick. The only way to reverse the trend is to change our choices and we do that by informed decision-making. We have to choose to eat healthfully and be fit through activity or exercise. We have to educate ourselves through reliable sources on how to be smart consumers. Personal responsibility is key for a positive outcome with your diagnosis.
Good nutrition is our foundation to a healthy life. Foods such as fruits and vegetables have a bountiful number of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals in them all working together. These nutrients keep our bodies functioning normally and help fight off disease.
Nutritional scientists are trying to identify and understand how each one works and the effects they have on the human body. There are thousands of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and we understand only a few of them. For instance lycopene is the best known phytochemical in tomatoes. We know lycopene is a carotenoid and it helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer by activating phase II enzymes. Yet, lycopene is just one of thousands of phytochemicals in a single tomato.
Yellow and red onions also are powerful in the fight against cancer. They are considered an allium vegetable and contain organosulfur compounds. When the cell walls of this vegetable are broken – by chewing or chopping – then the chemical reaction begins. This reaction appears to detoxify cancer cells and halt their growth. So if you eat onions everyday then you may have stopped a cancer in its tracks without ever even knowing you had it!
Educated food selection is your first line of defense in maintaining your health or improving your illness. Modern medicine and medications have their place in your treatment AFTER YOU have done your part! According to the listed disease trends, you may be fighting for your life and not even know it yet.