Make Your City Healthier

Share Make Your City Healthier ProjectEvery semester, my fitness and health students complete a project that projects onto real life. This fall, their project was to pretend that I was the city council or parks board and write a project proposal or grant proposal on something that would make their city healthier. I tell them to be specific and efficient with any money.

Two of my favorites this semester require very little money investment for the potential impact–that often means it is a very doable project.

1. Cooking Class at a Church: This student said that if she talked to the minister at her church, she felt sure that he would allow her to use the church’s kitchen to give free cooking classes. She wanted to teach her community how to make Soul Food in a healthier way. Only investment: her time and a little on the food.

2. Farmers Market held in unused building: This student wanted to use the town’s Rodeo building for a farmers market because there wasn’t one around although she thought there were plenty of local producers around. The building goes unused for a good portion of the year, so again, she thought that the city might agree.

Other ideas included: add exercise equipment to a local park, repair the local park, create after-school running/fitness clubs, add a roller rink to a park (this is Texas- ice skating doesn’t last very long).

My call out to my students is to PLEASE get out and do these projects. Your community and city and all of us will benefit.

What an Ideal Doctor Visit Should Look Like

Share A better Dr. officeIt sucks to be sick. But what sucks more is having to go to the doctor sick. Already you feel awful, then circle the parking lot looking for a spot before you walk into the doctor’s waiting room to sit and wait with a lot more sick people. When you are finally called back, you wait again. And if you have to remove your clothes, you sit in a gown freezing, feeling like the wait is even that much longer. Then, the doctor only has a few minutes to attempt to diagnose your current problem. If you have a couple minor concerns that you have been wanting to bring up, forget it. You likely won’t get a chance.

Well, at least that is how most of my doctors visits go. What about you?

Now, my children’s doctor, their pediatrician, is a breath of fresh air, comparatively. I find parking right in front (and I got the appointment for that feverish child the same day!). I walk in to the receptionist who knows my name and face. Usually there is no one else in the waiting room because he is running on time (except that I am chronically early, so sometimes there might be one). The nurse takes us in and doesn’t make us list all the symptoms in detail that we will have to repeat to the doctor again. The children may stay in my lap to be examined. If he notices that the sibling or I seem to be catching the same thing, he examines and treats us just because it is the right thing to do. He even discusses the options for treatment rather than authoritatively prescribing because he knows we might have feedback about how a treatment or medicine has worked or affected the child in the past.

My children never dread the doctor, and I only dread the day their pediatrician retires.

Recently, I’ve been thankful for the Minute Clinics at CVS (No, I’m not being paid or at all compensated.).  A good portion of my pediatrician’s requirements have been met by them. No wait. The P.A. knows my face and name. Test results are immediate (I mean, why can’t my other doctor do a strep test immediately if CVS can?). And she calls in a day or two to check that the treatment is working and adjust if necessary. That is great customer service.

Now, I agree that when I recently had a sinus infection, I knew that it had gotten to a point to need antibiotics, but the P.A. at the Minute Clinic is very conservative on the use of antibiotics. So I had to wait until that phone call 48 hours later to say that yes, it was still getting worse and get them. But, you know what, I respect that. She is doing exactly what has been recommended to stop the overuse of antibiotics.

Why don’t I change doctors or find somewhere else? I’ve tried, but every name for a GP on my insurance list is the same. And there is a time when you need a doctor to do more than the clinic can do. So, I keep that GP (who the only really cool thing is that she is a part of a group consisting of 10 female doctors) because if I left, they aren’t accepting any new patients.

Thank you to any doctors who are like my pediatrician. To the rest, accepting the status quo and excuses is not enough. Change must occur from all sides.

How Runners Propose


Photo courtesy of Flickr/CNDYHave you seen the news article on BBC about the man who mapped his run to spell out “Will you marry me”? He posted the run on Facebook and went home with a ring to check her answer.

I’ve also seen marriage vows at the start of a race. The bride and groom run together to their cake at the end of the race.

Sounds romantic to you? Share your stories here!

Use a Fast as a Diet?

Share Fasting instead of dieting Fasting instead of dieting

Instead of dieting everyday, have you ever considering fasting weekly? It may not be as crazy as it sounds. A recent study said that it could be a healthy way to go.

I have always played with fasting. I enjoy it especially after holidays and vacations when I feel like I have overindulged and left some of my healthy eating habits behind. But after reading Dr. Weil’s book, I started fasting more regularly. But I realized that I did have to do all or nothing, or even just a juice fast. Juice fasting left me starving with headaches as the blood sugar shot up and down during the day. So I began doing fruit fasts. This meant that I ate as much or as often as I wanted, but only raw, whole fruits.

Eating raw fruits felt healthy. The only time I felt deprived was when I had to cook something hot for my family in the evening, but over time, I started adding one raw veggie salad with lemon juice if I felt I couldn’t take it anymore. This all fit with my previous flirtations with eating at least partially raw. (Remember there are nutritional benefits that you only get from raw foods.)

While I fasted for health purposes, I found that I lost weight and dropped an extra size. Fasting once a week was enough to drop my calories for the week. It turns out that this can be a strategy for diet as well. Some diets suggest restricting your diet 1-2 days a week down to 500 calories. That means you only need willpower 2 days a week instead of everyday.

Now, it is not going to work if you go crazy the next day. But if you continue eating healthy, nutritious meals, you will see change. I have also found that it doesn’t work if you end up giving up on your fast at the end of the day because you become voracious and eat most of your calories. But if you wake up the next day, you can start off as if it is a normal day.

This may also help your health in the long term because the human body is used to being calorie restricted at times. In fact, most world religions have implemented fasts for some point in time.

If you try it, let me know how it goes and how you did it!

The More You Run, the Sooner It’s Done


IMG_0988Some people are born runners. Others are not. I fall firmly into the later category. I love triathlons for the swimming and cycling that keep me from having to do too much running in a long race. So, my mantra for running is: the more I run, the sooner I’ll be done.

This mantra really helps me when I’m tired after the first two events and feel like walking. Actually, it helps me in runs too. Think about a half marathon, if I run even a slow and steady 10 min a mile pace, I will finish in 131 minutes. If I start walking and running, getting closer to a 13 min a mile pace, I’ve got to run for an extra 40 minutes.

Now, let me do some fuzzy math…

Would you rather suffer for 2 hours or 3 hours? (Yes, I know there is some big rounding here, but all you need to do is convince your mind.) Right, I’d rather suffer for less time too, so my answer is run more.

Ideally, this would work for run faster too, but again, that would be talking to natural runners. As a non-natural runner, I know that when I’m tired and well into a race, there are only 2 options: keep running or walk. The pace of the running is going to happen at whatever pace it happens (and I’m just going to hope that it is closer to 9 min pace instead of 10).

So, if you hear someone cheering “The More You Run, the Sooner You’ll Be Done,” it is probably me. Don’t look at me too strangely, please.

Inspired by Oprah


My grandmother in heaven was smiling at me a few weeks as I attended Oprah’s Live the Life You Want weekend. She could never miss an episode of Oprah. Oprah was her expert for everything (and she never got to see Oprah in person), so I was thinking about her often as I attended Saturday’s all-day inspirational workshop.

The weekend opened with Deepak Chopra and a grounding meditation. He reminded us that we see the world as a reflection of our inner selves, not as it actually is. (YES! my inner-yoga self was shouting. Actually, even my anthropological background was nodding.) Even my husband had heard of Deepak, so this is the one he was a little disappointed to miss. FYI, Deepak & Oprah are together for a free 21 day meditation challenge.

Then, Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love spoke. Although I have never felt the need to take a year off to follow her journey (like someone at the O-town talk later said they did), I did find her inspiring. I liked how she talked about the pain of birthing your new life. It might take pain, and it will take patience and hard work, but the result is worth it. I need to think about this every time I get a really rough critique from my fellow writers!

I had never heard of Rob Bell before, but he is a minister and a great speaker. He kind of reminded me of a stand-up comedian in the way he spoke. I wrote notes like “breath=spirit” “1st & last”.

Do you know? Oprah gave us homework. Yup. So here is mine: #thelifeiwant includes being braver. I want to care less about people judging me and feel like I’m enough, exactly as I am. I want to live in a place that feels peaceful and where the beauty inspires me. I want to be successful in my writing and editing so that I don’t feel the need to look for other daytime jobs.

Trying the Tri Again


If you read my posts last year, Sari to Tri, you know that triathlons is a family-sport for us. My MIL proved it again by competing in her first open water sprint triathlon. She completed it in 1:48! The cut-off time was 1:50, so improving by several minutes was necessary for her not to be DQed. By completing it in time, she got 2nd place. 1st place was running right beside her and finished only 20 seconds ahead. Check out this photo of these great over 65 ladies!


Not a Dr. Oz Fan, But…


Photo courtesy Flickr/Lori Joan

I’m not a Dr. Oz fan. It probably started when he sounded like a mouthpiece for the AMA trying to scare everyone about the dangers of raw milk. He talked about the dangers without talking about the problems of pasteurized milk and why raw milk is supposed to be healthier. He also didn’t concede that raw milk producers who are licensed by the state have to go through a lot more testing and keep cleaner than the producers that pasteurize. Basically, he didn’t provide a fair argument.

I haven’t even begun to look up his beliefs on midwifery because I can’t imagine that he would sanction out-of-the-hospital birth. (I will try my best not to lecture here, but I did my masters work on midwifery.)

Okay, despite my arguments about Dr. Oz, I have to admit that I am thankful for the way he is educating people on some basic ways to stay healthy. For example, he encourages eating for nutrition and minimizing sugar and far. Recently, my newspaper published an article from Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz that encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables to increase your mood and fight stress and inflammation. They also recommended strength training too.

I can’t argue too much with someone who so generously emphasizes nutrition and exercise over medication.