In the News Archives - Camp Jump Start

Kids and covid-19


Kids get Covid and kids spread Covid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 90% of Covid cases were missed in children over the last year! Cases get missed because kids typically do not present the same way as adults with this infection. There is also a very short window for testing in children—likely 2 days—to detect the infection. For most kids, the illness appears mild with congestion, stuffy nose and sneezing only for a few days. Although some kids may present with a myriad of adult symptoms. The good news has been less than 1 % of kids under the age of 18 end up in the hospital. Yet, thousands of kids have died from Covid-19 and many more continue to suffer from long term complications!

Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome was discovered only a year ago when kids had a 50-50% chance of ending up in the Intensive Care Unit. Three to four weeks after a mild case of Covid, kids developed inflammation in various organ systems which in many cases was life threatening or life altering with heart, lung and brain involvement.  A curious change has occurred over the last few months. Kids coming into the hospital emergency department are now having an 80-90% chance of requiring intensive care due to septic shock related to a previous mild Covid illness. Many kids need long term care following a mild covid infection related to neurological damage from the virus.  For example, will a teenager no longer able to walk due brain inflammation be able to rehab and walk again? 

As kids are resuming physical activity we have noticed that many are having a hard time. At first, they appear de-conditioned and out-of-shape but it may be more than that. If your child has had symptoms from Covid previously then it is recommended that they have an evaluation by a cardiologist prior to resuming sports! Long haul Covid causes inflammation around vital organs such as the heart or lungs. A simple exam by a cardiologist and possibly an EKG can alert you to a potentially dangerous condition before it is an emergency situation.

SARS-CoV2 is causing illness unlike any other pediatric disease and this virus continues to evolve. Only time will give us the answers we are seeking. What we are learning from the United Kingdom is the rate may be as high as 10% of those children infected with Covid do not get better! They develop long haul covid. They may experience headaches similar to a migraine, shortness of breath, hair loss, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and low energy.

We cannot predict this virus so we must protect ourselves and our children from getting it.  This summer keep your kids close to home and your circle small until your child can be vaccinated. Vaccinations for children should be available first quarter of 2022. We all want life to be normal again but this virus is not over for anyone until it is over for everyone. 

Covid Chaos

In a split second it seems that COVID-19 changed all our lives. 

Camp was at the peak in our history—we had the most campers registered and we had just received a verbal commitment for a $500,000 gift toward building a gymnasium.  It was the best of times!

And in just that split second,  it became the worst of times.

Pandemics are stressful.  Fear of a novel or new virus can cause overwhelming anxiety along with other strong emotions.  Add to it the isolation required to stop the spread of the illness and mental health is at risk.

Concern over your own health and the health of your loved ones can become all consuming.  Eating patterns change.  Activities are curbed.  Difficulties in sleep emerge.  As the pandemic draws out disruption in concentration occurs as focus shifts to jobs and financial challenges.  Tempers flare.  The crisis amplifies all previous life problems and many people will self-medicate using food, tobacco, alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb the pain. 

People respond differently to stress depending on prior experiences, background, financial situation, social support, community involvement and health.  We are connected to others as human beings so how each of us responds affects those around us too.

The best ways to cope with Covid stress and avoid choas is to:

  • Research the “facts”.  It has been stressful for everyone as the guidelines change but that is the problem with a novel or new virus.  We must be cautious and be willing to change as we learn more.
  • Know how to take care of yourself or your loved ones if sick.
  • Know how and where to seek help if needed. 
  • Take care of your emotional health and give yourself credit for surviving in difficult times.  No one is perfect so lower your expectations and give that grace to others. 
  • Recognize that this is one huge storm and we are all in different boats experiencing calm waters and turbulent waters.  It depends on the boat as to what the experience is at any given moment.  We find strength in reaching out to others and drawing them close stabilizing BOTH boats.
  • Turn off the news!  You need a break!  Vow to only watch or listen ONCE A DAY. 
  • Spend some time doing things that you enjoy—garden, read, listen to music, exercise, etc
  • Try yoga, meditation or simply stretch and breathe.
  • Pay attention to the food you are eating.  Avoid junk food.  In a pandemic you need to be in the best shape of your life so fuel your immune system with veggies (especially the green ones), fruits, beans and whole grains.
  • Exercise daily as your body needs to be fit to fight the virus.
  • Connect with others daily.
  • Forgive yourself in the moment.
  • Keep your faith. 

This, too, shall pass.

Boosting your mental health

We all long for life to return to normal, but that is not how life works, it moves on. We will never return to the good ‘ole days. Rather we will evolve to a new normal. Now is the time to consider what we want that to be.

Almost everyone during this unprecedented time in history is feeling a great deal of stress, fear, anxiety and even depression. We feel little control over our individual lives. Yet this is exactly where we should start—we need to take control over that which we can control. We will all be stronger for it!


When life is uncomfortable, the natural tendency is to escape. Most people will retreat and become immobilized in the world of television or computers. This will not help us manage our thoughts and feelings for long. Instead we need healthier coping strategies to survive this unsettled time in our life.


Many regions have gone into lockdown once again due to Covid-19 and we are unsure of what the future holds, but humans are creatures of habit, so you need to plan your habits. You know what to expect when you have a daily routine and it does not take much effort once the routine is established. It is just what you do.

  • Set a firm time of when you wake up and when you go to bed each day. Sleep is the key to a heathy life because it allows for rejuvenation of our mind, body and soul.
  • Follow your normal routine for daily hygiene even if you are not going to work and even if you do not feel like it.
  • Plan your schedule and eat on schedule. Do not go in the kitchen if it is not time for a planned meal or snack. No eating after dinner—The Kitchen Is Closed!
  • Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Any other beverage is in addition to this!
  • Exercise releases chemicals in your body that will naturally boost your mood. There is no prescription medicine that comes close to achieving the same results that exercise provides so plan your daily activity time.  Each day should be different.  
  • Aerobic activity especially during these times of Covid is needed every day for 45 minutes to an hour so try walking around the block or go to a park. Try running, biking, dancing or anything that makes you breathe deeply and sweat!
  • Strength training is needed 2-3 times per week. You do not need special equipment. Your own body weight is the best resistance.
  • Stretching and flexibility training is necessary to avoid injury and maintain good form. Just watch the animals as they naturally do this every time they get up.
  • It takes at least 66 days for a new routine to become a habit.  One good choice leads to another!
  • Be kind to yourself. These are tough times, so you need to take care of yourself, especially if you have to take care of others. Your home is your safe space and you can practice self-care by building in specific times to soothe your soul. Make a list of your favorite things that involve all your senses and commit to this daily:
  • Things to see—cards from friends or sending cards to friends, pictures of your family, books from times gone by, travel literature, magazines, video chat or Facetime
  • Things to hear—music from when you were in high school, white noise like thunderstorms or ocean waves, wind chimes, books on tape, talking on the phone
  • Things to smell—candles, aromatherapy with essential oils, other fragrances and lotions
  • Things to taste—making HEALTHY comfort foods including soups and stews to warm your home, herbal teas, holiday baking (but give most away to maintain your own health)
  • Things to touch—blankets, slippers, journaling, writing letters, facials, hot bath/shower, and do not forget hugging the people you live with and your pets!

The greatest enemy is isolation, but you can change that quickly. You can call family and friends, you can Zoom events, you can join an online group and share books or hobbies—you can try new books or hobbies by ordering online those things that you find interesting, you can social distance on a walk and initiate conversations with new people who may need you as much as you need them. Loneliness is not a permanent condition nor is this Covid chaos. Find a way to reach out in service to others. Most nonprofits are struggling terribly and could use your help. It lifts our own spirit when we can help someone else. 

It is a unique time, but there can be good that comes from this bad. Take this opportunity to improve your mental AND physical health by creating your new normal routine. Try some of the items listed and add your own ideas to the list. 

Trying any or all of these coping strategies might help you feel a little bit better. We all must “fake it ‘til we make it”.

And we WILL make it!

Goodbye and good riddance 2020 and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!!!!

Let’s start 2021 off right! Have you thought about your New Year’s Resolutions?

Are they the same ones you made last year? Lose weight. Exercise More. Eat Healthier. If you are like many of us, these three are at the top of our list and may have been for several years. The fact is, four out of five people who make these New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them before the end of January!

So, here’s an approach that has a far greater chance of success. First think about the reason you want to reach a specific health goal. Wanting to avoid diabetes, heart disease, cancer or Alzheimer’s are admirable goals, but let’s be honest, you do not really believe these bad things will ever happen to you. So, ask yourself, “Why am I really making this resolution? Is it because I want to wear a certain little dress, have more energy, walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, hold my grandbabies, climb to a mountain top, swim with dolphins?  Figure out your “why”, then capture how that looks in your mind. Write it down on paper and place it on your refrigerator. Share your resolutions with your loved ones. Motivation comes from within the person, telling someone else makes it a commitment, writing it down will remind you daily and this is how you will reach your goal. 
Here are some baby steps you can take to a healthier lifestyle.

Make just ONE resolution and understand your “why”. You will have success if you concentrate and put your energy into just one resolution.  More than three resolutions and your chances of success in any of them is greatly reduced. This year set yourself up for success and focus on one resolution. At the end of this year you can celebrate without regret knowing that you have successfully improved your life circumstance.

Start your day with steel cut oatmeal topped with flaxseeds and fruit.  Focus on making this one easy healthy meal and let it become a new habit. You do not need to overhaul your entire daily menu at once! If you make one good choice to start the day, then the rest of the day it is easier to make healthier choices. This breakfast choice will keep you full until lunch and will help your body run efficiently.

Always start your lunch and dinner with a soup (watch the sodium) or salad. Americans today eat mostly “fake food” and we are suffering from malnutrition. The highly processed food industry has taken out all the good stuff needed by our bodies and replaced it with potentially harmful substances causing us distress. We need the micronutrients and phytochemicals from plants to avoid dietary deficiencies and over consumption. Food is fuel and we all must choose wisely for our bodies to run well. 

Make over one meal each week. Once oatmeal has become routine for breakfast then improve the health content of one more meal each week until you have 3 weeks of healthier options. Focusing on one meal at a time is easier than trying to overhaul all of your daily eating habits at once.  It is important to cut down on animal protein if you truly want to avoid heart disease and cancer so try to plan for a “Meatless Monday”.

Buy a monitor.  People who track their food intake and activity will be more accountable by wearing a monitor. We all play mind games. For instance, we overestimate the amount of exercise we do and we underestimate the amount of calories we eat. The math is not always easy calculating calories in and those calories we burn, but you should track this to the best of your ability if you want to reach your goals. Just wearing a monitor will remind you to make better choices in all parts of your life.

Try new things. We can get stuck with all things in life. Buy and experiment with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Take a new exercise class or participate in a new activity. Meet new people who are trying to do what you are doing. Challenge yourself!

Play with the kids in your life.  It means more exercise for all. Combine this with trying new things. You do not have to be an expert on all things; let these children teach you something new! Play tag, jump rope, dance, learn different sports or just go for a walk or run together.  Even physically interactive video games can be beneficial. 

Make time for rest.  Rest, relaxation and sleep are all components of a healthy lifestyle. Plan to get at least 7 hours of good sleep per night. It takes time for your body to rest and repair.

Be a role model.  Children do as we do and not as we say. Role model these baby steps so the children in your life will grow up not having to make this same resolution.  Because of you, they will be in the habit of living a healthy lifestyle.

Wishing you health, happiness and hope for a better life in 2021! We have all been looking forward to this new year!

What Health Professionals Are Doing To Avoid Severe Covid-19 Infections

During this pandemic, day in and day out, our frontline healthcare professionals are exposed to this new invader known as Covid-19. Although we call them Health Care Heroes, not one has a superpower against this virus. What are they doing to avoid infection when cases are soaring?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is their uniform to avoid contact with the virus.  Yet, we all are likely to come into contact with this virus either on or off the job at some point in time. It is the personal habits of each individual that will likely determine the course of illness. Those embracing a healthy lifestyle are less at risk for complications.

There has never been a better time to move towards a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle consists of four areas in daily living:

  1. Eating plan—Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans will give your body the fuel needed to put up the best defense. Make sure you are well hydrated too.
  2. Exercise—Raising body temperature during intense activity helps kill off viruses. Make an effort every day to work up a sweat for an hour. 
  3. Stress Management—Learn to control what you can control and then give up the rest. Get into nature by hiking or just walking around the block so you get sunshine and this will help your mood too.
  4. Sleep—Sleeping well will allow for rest and rejuvenation. The body can put all effort into searching for the virus and destroying it.

Do these four areas in life well and you will reduce the impact of viruses, not just covid-19. It reduces infection rate and sets you up for faster recovery.

A lot of smart physicians have come up with their own “cocktail” to stay well during the pandemic. This is taken from Eastern Virginia Medical School with the disclaimer:

“Disclaimer: The information provided in this protocol is primarily to provide information to physicians on a protocol that we found to be highly effective in damping down the hyperinflammatory cytokine “storm” that is the cause of mortality and morbidity in COVID-19. Our guidance should only be used by medical professionals in formulating their approach to COVID-19. Patients should always consult with their physician before starting any medical treatment.”

To aid in prevention, they suggest taking these supplements and over-the-counter medications and again, they suggest you consult with your physician:

  • Vitamin C 500 mg twice a day
  • Quercetin 250 mg once a day
  • Zinc 75-100 mg once a day
  • Melatonin (slow release) beginning with 0.3 mg increasing to 2 mg at night
  • Vitamin D3 1000-3000 iu per day
  • Famotidine (Pepcid) 20 – 40 mg once a day (This helps prevent what they call the “cytokine storm” which is the body starting to attack itself and not the virus.)

And when this does not work and the Health Professional becomes infected what do they do? They immediately get tested and quarantine until results are known. They notify those that they have been in contact working with their local health department, so those people can take precautions as well. They focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, maintaining an easier exercise routine and sleeping to the best of their ability. They learn to sleep on their belly so that their lungs can expand better. They continue their “cocktail” of supplements and over-the-counter medicine, possibly increasing some dosages and add aspirin unless contraindicated. (Always consult your physician!) Every two hours while awake they take 5 deep breaths—breathing in through their nose and blowing out through their mouth as if blowing into a straw. After 5 deep breaths then they cough hard as long as they are isolated. This helps prevent pneumonia. If they experience shortness of breath symptoms or chest pain, they call their doctor and/or go to the emergency room.

This is how many health professionals practice self-care during this pandemic.

The last topic to discuss is the importance of achieving your optimal weight. Being overweight—not even obese—increases the complications of Covid-19. Those joking about gaining the “Covid-10, 20, 30 or 50” have put themselves at higher risk during this pandemic and that is no joking matter. Fat cells have Ace2 receptors which increases your chances for a severe case of Covid-19 infection. This may explain why some populations are affected more than others with poor outcomes. We still have much to learn about this virus.

Now is the time to set up your home environment to avoid further weight gain and create habits to reduce your weight if needed. Keep all junk food and highly processed foods out of your house! Enforce kitchen rules—eat only in one place and only during mealtimes. “Only eat when you eat” meaning no television or electronics during meals. Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Always drink a glass of water before eating anything. End your day of eating once you have finished dinner by brushing your teeth. 

Small choices can end up with big results. Let’s stay healthy together!

News You Can Use This Flu Season With COVID-19 Present

The good news is that the COVID-19 virus today is different from the COVID-19 virus at the beginning of the year. Most of the coronavirus strains seem to have weakened but remains aggressive. And although the death rate is approaching 210,000 people in the United States, this is far less than predicted when it first originated.


The bad news is that flu season is upon us and people will begin staying inside gaining more winter weight. This is not a good combination while COVID-19 rages among us. Most people remain susceptible to this virus and one of the major risk factors involves another unspoken pandemic—obesity! 

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors with COVID-19.  We determine overweight and obesity by using weight and height to calculate the “body mass index” (BMI). Although not absolute, the BMI gives us a good starting point in determining our body make-up. For most Americans, our body fat is out-of-control. The average BMI of an American is roughly 29 which is very close to becoming obese. The most recent data is always about 2 years old so in the year 2018, 32.5 percent of American adults were overweight and 42.4 percent were considered obese. That means that at most only one out of four Americans are a normal body weight! This may explain why COVID-19 has wreaked mayhem on our population.


Simply, obesity puts you in the danger zone not just with COVID-19 but with other obesity related diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. These co-morbidities complicate the course of infection from this virus and that is not expected to change.


So, what can you change TODAY to alter the course of your own destiny with COVID-19? 


First, do not wait for someone else to protect you! All the measures taken so far were to “flatten the curve”. It was never expected that people would forever avoid getting it. We simply wanted to kick the can down the road until we learned more about the virus and we developed treatments. Waiting for a vaccine will not give you the same protection that you can give yourself and it is likely that each of us may get some strain of COVID-19 eventually. So, plan for it and be ready! 
This virus is much like the flu. Even with a vaccine, flu shots are only 40 percent effective because the virus mutates. This is exactly what the COVID-19 virus is doing, so do not bank on the vaccines protecting you. 


Your secret weapon is making good lifestyle choices!
You must start today moving the scale numbers down to a healthy weight—

  • Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water and if still thirsty have coffee or tea. Eliminate all sugary drinks or diet drinks. Eat the fruit instead of drinking juice.
  • Get rid of the junk food in your house. Do not tell yourself that you can never have the junk food ever again as this will make you want it more. Instead make access to it difficult or tell yourself that you will only have it on special occasions but never allow it in your house. 
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables so your body gets the nutrients that it needs to function at peak performance. Food is fuel. We need to increase consumption of good-for-you foods while decreasing room for the bad-for-you foods.
  • Continue to move to the healthier side on the Camp Jump Start Eating Plan continuum by cutting out dairy and decreasing meat, sugar, salt and all oils. 
  • Calculate your fiber intake and aim for 35 -50 grams per day by eating the naturally high fiber foods which will fill you up but also help remove substances that make you sick.

Other tips for this flu season—

  • Continue social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks. 
  • Always think about your masking procedure—wash your hands before putting it on, do not touch the outside of the mask EVER, wash your hands before taking it off and wash them again once the mask is removed. Determine an area to keep the mask and avoid contamination by cleaning and storing as instructed.
  • Get your Vitamin D level checked with a blood test and talk to your doctor about supplementing if you are low. Low Vitamin D levels set you up for viral infections due to your decreased immune response to them.
  • Have zinc lozenges available and use every two hours while awake if a sore throat develops.
  • Continue regular outdoor activity even if it is cold. Healthy activity will cause you to work up a sweat and we need to do this every day for about an hour for maximum benefit. Bodies were meant to move so “get up, get out and move!”
  • Pay attention to your mental health. Seek joy in your life and do the things that you love. Read, listen to music, look at family picture albums, walk, dance, do yoga, meditate and try new things. Find new interests by looking for ideas on the internet. And always remember to balance physical inactivity with exercise time. The best medicine for depression is exercise but if that does not help your mood then seek help.
  • Connect with other people in new ways like Zoom and facetime but use old-fashioned phone calls too.
  • This year get a flu shot! You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. If you got sick after getting a flu shot previously, it is likely that you were exposed prior to receiving the vaccination. This year avoid exposure by practicing social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask while standing in line for the flu shot.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid sick people.

My hope is that COVID-19 and this pandemic encourages us all to value our health. It has given us an opportunity to get fit and embrace a healthy lifestyle. The decision is yours to make and either way you are the only one that will either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences by the way you choose to live. I hope you live well.

Staying Healthy When Viruses Are In the News

This is a preview of our Spring Newsletter Feature Article.  It is news that you can use now!  We hope these tips keep you and your family healthy!

At Camp Jump Start our whole health education strengthen bodies.  When you take care of yourself by eating the right foods (and avoiding the harmful ones), getting enough exercise, dealing with stress effectively and getting enough sleep then you are able to ward off illness.  You may still get sick but you will likely get well faster and avoid complications.

Remember that we must follow the data for this new Coronavirus and avoid hysteria.  Depending on your source, the flu takes the lives of 20,000 to 69,000 people each year.  The people at risk are typically our youngest, our oldest, those with compromised immunity and underlying diseases.  The best defense is a good offense so be proactive and set up healthy habits to control what you can control.  Then stay current with information from a reliable source and ignore those trying to incite panic.

Best Ways to Stay Healthy When Viruses Are In the News

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed but this is the time of year when people are in close contact and germs spread.  In the news we hear about the Coronavirus and strains of influenza (flu) that are deadly and it scares us. Physicians treat symptoms of these viruses and most get better, but the real prevention and healing must come from you so let’s be proactive and prepare!

Here are a dozen ways that you can take control over your health destiny and avoid communicable illnesses.

  1. Wash your hands vigorously and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Use lotion too if you are prone to chapped skin.
  2. When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue—immediately throw the tissue into a closed-container and wash your hands.
  3. Our hands touch many things throughout the day like light switches, doorknobs, gas pumps and small office items like pens.  Stop and think of where germs transfer from yourself or others then clean those areas frequently using a disinfectant wipe. Viruses can live a long time on hard surfaces but die quickly on soft surfaces.  Make it a habit not to touch your face as this is a direct path for a virus to infect you!
  4. Avoid close contact and keep a 3 to 6-foot distance between you or someone else who is sick. Turn your head away from those coughing or sneezing.
  5.  In your home try to isolate the person who is ill—sleep in a different room and do not share a bathroom when possible; use paper products when eating or drinking then dispose of all trash in a designated container.  Avoid intimate contact until everyone is healthy again!
  6. Choose whole, plant-rich foods to boost your immune system and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of plain water.  You should drink ½ of your weight in ounces of water a day so your cells work efficiently.  Then you can drink other beverages.
  7. Eat your vitamins instead of taking unnecessary supplements!  Vitamin C produces interferons that are needed to activate the immune system against viruses.  These foods may help prevent or shorten the course of illness: broccoli, spinach, leafy greens, bell peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes and tropical fruits.
  8. Make time to de-stress. Researchers report that a person’s psychological wellbeing effects the body’s resistance and resilience to infection: 
  9. Get enough sleep. Researchers have found that tired people are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections.  Lack of adequate sleep can make your cold symptoms worse and the illness will last longer too.
  10. If you develop symptoms seek medical care early and stay home.  You will get better quicker and prevent the spread of the virus. Be fever-free for 24 hours before resuming your life.
  11. Exercise that causes you to sweat every day will also kill germs and remove toxins from your own body.  Always clean gym equipment before and after using it!
  12. When outbreaks like the Coronavirus occur, find a credible source you can trust like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov) so you stay informed and get up-to-date news you can use.

If we keep our mind, body and spirit healthy, the viruses will be far less likely to make us sick.

Broken-hearted Kids

Heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans.  It is even more tragic when it relates to our children.  Three out of four children between the ages of 9 – 11 years old already have the beginning stages of heart disease.  We are seeing the streaky fat deposits in their young blood vessels setting them up for a lifetime of illness and early death.  All children are at-risk if they are living the typical American lifestyle. 

In previous years heart disease in children typically was associated with a congenital heart defect or some odd complication due to an infection. Heart disease was not related to lifestyle, but all of that has changed in one generation.  We are afraid that our kids will be snatched off the lawn, so we isolate them inside the house under the guise of keeping them safe.  They long for personal interaction so they turn to a virtual world to fulfill these needs.  They become sedentary for hours on end as they immerse themselves in a world of gaming competing with unknown rivals.  Young people long for deep emotional ties to peers but instead develop and maintain a certain social media persona. 

They discuss their private thoughts with strangers online and use emoji’s to communicate feelings.  They long for acceptance and believe they find it in people that they will never meet in person. 

Is it a shock then that our kids have “broken” hearts? 

A lot has changed in the world since Camp Jump Start began in 2003.  Most parents with overweight kids recognize the unhealthy path and want to change course but they lack the knowledge to do it.  Camp Jump Start has helped put families back on track to health but Camp Jump Start is no longer trying to prevent heart disease; Camp Jump Start is working to reverse heart disease in our children! 

Here are a dozen ways to help your child heal a “broken” heart- 

  1. Weigh every family member on Friday morning and track a healthy weight for each.  Reward accomplishments! 
  2. Know lab values.  Track A1c and lipid profiles-pay attention to each level for how it is trending. 
  3. Know blood pressures.  Aim for below 120/80. 
  4. Drink water until your urine is pale yellow to maintain good hydration.  Straight water is recognized and needed by your body.  It keeps blood from becoming “thick”. 
  5. Include a large variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans in the diet. 
  6. Decrease or eliminate extra sugar, salt, oil and animal products—especially dairy in the diet. 
  7. Routinely eat/prepare food from home so you know what you are really eating.  Treat yourself once every two weeks to a meal outside of the home. 
  8. A child must SWEAT every day for an hour!  Let them choose the activity-team sport, individual sport like running or dancing to name a few but remember that they must sweat.   We want them to be challenged so their heart muscle remains strong and we rid the body of harmful toxins. 
  9. Manage stress as much as possible.  Kids need help with organization and coping skills. Intervene if stress becomes unhealthy from school or activities.  Exercise can relieve stress too! 
  10. Know your kids passwords and who they communicate with online.  Disconnect from social media on a routine basis.  It is your house and you pay the bills so kids live by your rules!  
  11. Help them sleep without disturbance.  All electronics must be removed from the bedroom at night so set up a charging station somewhere in your home away from the bedrooms.  Then lead by example by keeping your cell phone there too. 
  12. You cannot be your child’s friend.  Kids can make friends, but they only get a few parents.  Be their parent and guide them.  Help your child find their “people”.   Help them fit in but always remember that we do become like the people we surround ourselves with….so choose carefully. A community like Camp Jump Start and Living Well Village can be a lifeline for many kids and families, but again to remain successful, kids and families must stay connected to us. 

May February be the month that your family decides to put an end to heart disease in your family.   

Skip the Kids’ Meal

As leaders in the industrial world we have developed the perfect recipe for cancer.  It is called a kids’ meal.  It is packed full of saturated fat, refined carbs and dairy all of which raises the hormone Insulin Growth-like factor-1.  IGF-1 increases cell growth.  It is a non-discriminatory hormone because it causes proliferation of all cells including damaged and renegade cells. 
How often you choose this food for your child matters.  It is dose dependent meaning that the more they eat, the greater the risk.  If you eat out a lot and order kids’ meals for your child, this is risky business.   Saving money on a kids’ meal does not save money in the long run.  It will cost your child their health down the line.  We are now seeing childhood cancers escalate. Causation or correlation?  Do you really want to wait to find out when your child’s health is at stake? 

It was 2015 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, one of the arms of the World Health Organization (WHO,) came out stating that processed meat is a class 1 carcinogen.  This was determined by 22 experts from 10 countries after reviewing over 800 studies.  This puts processed meat in the same category as asbestos, arsenic and tobacco. This research is why the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends very little, if any, processed meat be consumed.   

In America though—and yes, we have exported it—our standard American diet is full of highly processed foods which includes highly processed meat.   

“Processed meat” is the term given to meat that is salted, cured, fermented, smoked or preserved in a way which enhances flavor.  Various methods used in preserving these meats have also been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies.  Some common examples of processed meat are: 

  • Hot dogs 
  • Bacon 
  • Bologna 
  • Corned beef 
  • Pastrami
  • Deli meats
  • Lunch meats
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Chorizo

There is strong evidence that serving even small amounts of processed meat may lead to certain cancers.   

Typically, these meats are high in calories which causes weight gain.  Being overweight and obese is a risk factor for at least 12 types of cancer. 
Cutting down on processed meats is a good idea and cutting them out completely is best of all!  In order to avoid processed meats it will take only a little thought and experimentation.   So what will you eat if you avoid processed meat?  People are creatures of habit so you must develop a plan to change your usual habits.  Look closely at your grocery list.  Scratch out the risky items then write in healthier alternatives.  When shopping, if those processed foods start “calling your name”, simply acknowledge them and state that was your old choice but now that you know better you recognize that they are poison to you and your family.  Then keep walking!   Over time, one good choice will lead to another.  Eventually you will not even be tempted. 

Skip the kids’ meals!   

  • Instead of school lunches, send your child with soup or salad, veggie wrap or bean burrito.  Encourage your child to be the leader in this food revolution by being a role model to others. 
  • Have fast food ready at home.  Batch cook for the week to save time and money.  Always have in the refrigerator salad ingredients and beans with a big bowl of rice or quinoa to make “bowls” or have leftovers in the freezer to reheat. 
  • If you do eat out then do your homework on what is the healthiest (smartest) option on the menu. Make up your own kids’ meal from the “sides” – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • And always, always make your beverage of choice WATER!

Help your child develop healthy food preferences and praise them when they make healthy food choices.  It is the single most important gift you can give your child! 

Ten Things That Kids Really Need

This time of year, children are making their list for the newest gizmos and gadgets, toys and treats but what do children really need? 

Love.  Children need love.  They need to know your love is unconditional.  They need to see your face light up when they come into a room.  This builds the foundation of their own self-worth and trust in relationships.

Respect.  Children need respect.  They need to know that their emotions, abilities, qualities and achievements are recognized and admired.  They need to know they are accepted for who they are without judgement. 

Open communication.  Children need to engage in open communication with adults and peers.  This is how they develop emotional and intellectual intelligence.  Becoming a good communicator will lead to success in all areas of life.  It helps build strong, committed relationships. 

Time. Children need your undivided time.  Throw out your over-scheduled activities and spend one-on-one quality time with your child.  Have mother-child or father-child nights out to try new things together.  Bonding early with a child will likely prevent struggles later in life. 

Structure.  Children need structure.  Structure gives your child a sense of security as they learn to know what to expect.  Even for those children who complain about schedules, they tend to thrive with structure in their daily routine.  Point out your observations to your child so that they can have a clearer picture of how others see them.  When children know what to expect, they do not suffer from worry and anxiety as much. 

Boundaries.  Children need boundaries.  Boundaries teach your child self-control, social standards and provide safety lines for them.  Setting boundaries will also help them get what they need and prevent others from taking advantage of them as they grow up. 

Coping skills.  Children need to be taught coping techniques and be encouraged to use these skills.  Every day stress requires management.  Children suffer from anxiety and depression many times because they lack these learned skills.  Take the time to listen to their concerns and then help them think through the situation so they can learn to problem solve on their own.  Teach relaxation techniques so they can grow into healthy, productive adults. 

Inclusion.  Children need to be included.  They need to be a member of many groups. Seek out the groups that are important in your own life which may include family, school, sports teams, clubs and churches.  Help your child find “their people”.  They need groups where they feel like they “fit” and are celebrated for their unique qualities. 

Coaches.  Children need coaches and mentors.  They need adult role models who can help them figure out life.  They need people who they look up to and trust.  Choose wisely who you allow to help mold your child.  Surround your child with positive role models who will help guide them throughout the many stages in life. 

Purpose.  Children need to find their purpose.  Everyone needs to feel their life is valuable and the job of a child is to learn what they have to offer.  They must develop confidence in their uniqueness.  They need to know that their life matters.  We all need to be involved in something bigger than ourselves.

Take Control

Like many people, Carol is anxious at the doctor’s office.  She feels out-of-control the minute she walks into the lobby. As a result, she has suffered from “white coat syndrome or hypertension” for years, which is a temporary increase in blood pressure. The first time it happened Carol was concerned, but her doctor told her not to worry because one high reading was not a problem.  Now, every time her annual physical comes around, she and her doctor discuss her blood pressure. It continues to be consistently high in his office and Carol is certain that her blood pressure goes up due to her anxiety in anticipation of the visit. Her doctor is not so sure, as he believes that white coat hypertension is a forerunner of real hypertension.  They agree to disagree as Carol refuses to take medication for it anyway.  Other factors can contribute to faulty readings. Carol’s blood pressure may not have been measured accurately during those early visits.  Health professionals may not always use the best technique as they hurry through their day.  

Carol can take control of her own situation. She can learn to take her own blood pressure and keep a record of her readings at home.  One does not have to be a physician, nurse or tech to measure a blood pressure and once she learns the proper technique she is likely to get more accurate readings in her familiar and comfortable home setting.  Tracking these readings will be much more valuable to Carol as she and her doctor determine the best course of action to take related to her blood pressure in the future. 
Carol needs to purchase an automatic, cuff-style, upper arm monitor found at any pharmacy or medical supply company.  It is VERY important to get the correct cuff size for her arm as improperly fitted ones can give inaccurate readings. 

At home she needs a staging area with a high back chair (not a sofa) and small table next to it.  She will place the machine on this table along with pen and paper calendar to keep a record of her readings.
Before sitting down to take her blood pressure she needs to remember to avoid exercising, smoking and drinking anything with caffeine for 30 minutes prior to taking the reading.

When ready, she will first go to the bathroom to empty her bladder.  Then Carol will put the cuff snugly on her BARE arm (not over clothing) and sit straight with her back completely supported by the chair and both feet flat on the ground.  

She will sit in this position breathing normally and consciously relaxing for about five minutes.  She should not talk to anyone during this time of relaxation. 

To begin the reading Carol will sit in the same above position and place her arm extended straight at heart level with palm up resting on the table.  She will then press the button with her other hand and begin the reading. Carol will continue to breathe normally and attempt to keep her body relaxed including her arm as the cuff is inflated.  The cuff is supposed to gently hug her arm, but for some people the hug can be uncomfortable. Again, she will need to focus on her breathing and relaxation.

Once the air is let out of the cuff and the reading is complete, then Carol will write the time she took the blood pressure, and in which arm it was taken, along with the reading.

At Carol’s next appointment with her doctor, she will take this calendar with her.  She now will have accurate and concrete numbers to show which may or may not indicate White Coat Syndrome.  Her record keeping will give her and her doctor a better understanding of what is happening to her and this will allow them to have a meaningful discussion on the appropriate course of action for Carol.

In today’s busy world, each of us must take an active role in our health care just as Carol did!

Roadmap To Health

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.

Men’s Health Month Is A Family Affair

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.  

Food Addiction

Food Addiction

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.

Divorce – A Child’s Perspective

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.


You may purchase the book for a child or for the parent seeking guidance in understanding their child at www.amazon.com or www.healthylearning.com .

Hypertension

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. 

Time For A Change!

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!

American Generosity – Moving Forward

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!


Happy Holidays!

How A Mom Can Make A Difference!

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:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • 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?

Food As Medicine

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.