The Teacher’s Aren’t Bullying You. A Response.

Sometimes I read opinion pieces regarding childhood obesity and I have sympathy for the parents struggling with how to help their overweight child. Many parents try to serve their families healthy meals on a tight budget (not nearly as easy as it should be), limit portions and encourage regular exercise in their kids by going outside with them. A lot of parents do these things and more, and I applaud them. Sadly, many parents don’t.

Reading CNN.com today, I came across this article by columnist Ruben Navarrette. His point, to say it bluntly, is that teachers have nothing better to be doing with their time than to “bully” their obese students by sending letters home to their families telling them their kids are overweight.

Clearly, Mr. Navarrette has never seen one of these letters for himself. They are sent, sealed, from the nurses office- not the teacher. Yes, they are based on BMI which is not always an accurate measure of body fat, especially in older children who have started to build more muscle through sports. There are more accurate tests and I for one would like to see those used in school systems instead of the rather outdated BMI test.  However, to claim that a child’s obesity is none of the schools business is just ignorant.

Just as we would treat a child with a “learning difference” (he makes sure  the readers are informed this is the new politically correct title for what used to be called “learning disabled”), we should be treating children who are at risk of obesity. Why? Obese children underperform academically compared to their normal-weight peers. They are sick more often. They really are bullied; not by teachers but by other children, making themselves more susceptible to depression and social outcasting as they get older.

My favorite line of this column was his defense of slacking parents. “It used to be “you’re a bad parent because you don’t read to your child.” Now it’s “you’re a bad parent because you let your kid get fat.”

While there are things that make far worse parents, I would argue that YES, you could be doing a better job parenting your child if you’re  not reading to them. And YES, if your child is clinically obese at a young age, it is YOUR JOB to be doing something to help them.

I get that “bullying” is the buzzword of the moment. Everyone is a bully if they say something you don’t like or agree with, and someone must do something to stop them. How about we focus on real bullying, what is driving real children to do real harm to themselves. If you’re so concerned about bullying, Mr. Navarrette, that should be your focus. Not protecting the feelings of parents whose children are at serious risk for physical and psychological problems because no one wanted to broach an uncomfortable topic with them.

Advertisements

Pre-Race Thoughts and Fuel

Tomorrow morning I’ll be running the Rock n’Roll Providence Half Marathon. 13.1 miles is usually my favorite distance but this time, I’m nervous. I’ve had a nasty sinus infection/chest cold for the past two days and this morning was the first time I woke up with the ability to breathe through my nose. I’ve spent the majority of my day chugging OJ mixed with EmergenC. It’s been intense.

This is my third bottle of OJ today. The smile is more than slightly forced.

This is my third bottle of OJ today. The smile is more than slightly forced.

I went to packet pick-up at the expo this morning. The expo was okay, about the size you’d expect from an event of its scale. The expected vendors were there, nothing new or exciting which is always a little disappointing. I always like to find a vendor I’ve never seen before a new product launch. I guess two years in a row at the Boston expo has made me a bit of an expo-snob. Do those exist? I’m gonna go ahead and say yes. I didn’t buy much, but I’m happy with what I came home with.

The bounty.

The bounty.

I picked up some Nuun Hydration based on the recommendations of every runner on Twitter. I swear I’m the last person from the #runchat to try it. I also grabbed my go-to Vanilla Gu’s just in case. I rarely eat them on runs, but I think it’s a comforting factor to know that I have them if I need them.

My stomach tends to be fickle on race mornings. I usually can’t eat much so I need to make sure what I do eat is substantial enough to get me through. At this years Boston Marathon the pre-race nerves were so bad I barely managed to choke down a banana. I stuffed my pockets with Gu’s and hoped the urge to vomit would pass a couple miles in. By mile 16 the pure, empty hunger my body felt was not only awful but incredibly distracting. I started staring at spectators hoping to see some sort of food being thrown my way. A mile later a little girl was handing out chocolate chip cookies. I think her mother saw the joy/desperation in my eyes and said “Honey, give the nice runner a napkin and send her with a few cookies for the road- she needs them!”. I still have no idea what the actual quality of those cookies was, but my memory at the time was it being the single best food I’d even consumed.

Since this is my first race over ten miles since that day I started getting a little panicky about what I’d eat tonight and tomorrow morning to avoid a repeat of that desperate feeling. Along with the race nerves, I’ve been sick so I need to make sure whatever I eat is familiar and stomach friendly. I started going through the list of possibilities in my head. After everything that was too heavy, too creamy, too full of gluten (still so sad to me) or just down-right not what I was in the mood food; I was left with one of my favorite healthy go-to’s. Turkey Chili.

I know, Chili is not what most people think when they think “pre-race meal”. The reasoning behind this was two fold- First. I love this turkey chili. It’s so healthy but so filling and warming and yummy. Second- it’s spicy as all get-out and will (hopefully) help clear out anything that may be lingering in my sinuses. When I was little and had a stuffy nose, my mom would always feed me incredibly spicy food. Mom doesn’t believe in kid food vs. adult food. The pediatrician was very concerned when she informed him I was being fed chili at 8 months old. I turned out fine. So I’m told. The point is, the spicy food flushes out your sinuses and that’s just what I need.

I’ll post the recipe for the chili and the amazing Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins I made for breakfast on Monday. Tonight I want to focus on getting hydrated, rested and processing how I feel about tomorrow.

This is my first BIG race since Boston. I did a small ten-miler a couple weeks later and some 5ks and local races since. Rock n’Roll races are big. There are crowds, loud music and lots of spectators. I’m excited but the closer I get to race day the more nervous I seem to be. I don’t know how I’m going to react or if I’m going to get overly emotional at the finish. I’ll wear my Boston wrist band with pride and may even get to meet some other members of the 5700 Strong at the finish. I’ll accept how I feel when it comes and for now I’m just thankful the Rock n’Roll series offered everyone from Boston a free chance to run a race. I think giving everyone a reason to get back out there helped a lot of people with the healing process. It’s a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed.

Can’t wait to let everyone know how tomorrow goes! I was originally aiming for a 2:15 but given the respiratory situation I’ll be happy with anything that’s not a DNF.

Stay sweaty!

xoxo,

Brittany

What’s Going On?

First- Welcome to Happy, Healthy, Sweaty! I took a break from Run Brit, Run! because it started to feel a bit incomplete and a little dishonest to me. Not that I was dishonest on my blog or that running is not a major part of my life- It is a HUGE part of my life and I still am so passionate about it. It just felt like it was missing… something.

While running brought me to embrace so many other healthy lifestyle habits, I love so many other aspects of health and fitness to keep blogging about running alone. I’m currently earning my MEd in Health Promotion and I wanted to feel like my blog was a true reflection of myself and my life. Where I’ve been, where I am, and what I hope the future holds.

With that in mind, Happy, Healthy, Sweaty was born! I hope you find this new blog to be a reliable resource for amazing healthy recipes, recent health news and how it might impact your life, and my favorite new feature- Gymspirations. First one to be posted soon!

I’ll feature other bloggers, readers and just random people who serve as my inspiration to hit the gym when the big comfy chair just looks SO much more appealing. We all have those days. Especially in Massachusetts. At 5am. In January. 

So other than working on the new blog what have I been up to? School has been taking up most of my time. I’ve been working with my amazing advisor to come up with a long term plan and designing a curriculum that will make me appealing to some pretty competitive PhD programs. The idea is that eventually I’ll get my PhD in Applied Psychology or Behavioral Health (a few professors in my department differ in what they think would be best which is making me all the more confused/overwhelmed).

Why on earth am I going through this much school? Eventually I want to teach at the collegiate level and study addiction tendencies in adolescents and children. I am certain there is more we can be doing to help children who show addictive tendencies at a  young age. I plan to find out what it is and help out where I can.

Why do I want to study such a depressing topic? Something I haven’t talked about on the blog before is the impact drug addiction has had on my life. My sister has been a drug addict since she was 17 years old and I’ve watched it destroy her life and tear my family apart. Drug abuse doesn’t just impact the user- it takes a toll on everyone around them. The stigma that comes with being the family member of a drug user is pretty brutal as well. My poor parents have had complete strangers say “Well it had to be her upbringing” and say it comes down to how she was raised. My mother has two other successful, functional, healthy grown children. I want to take the stigma away from being the family member of a user and offer a source of hope. Talking about the problem is the first step in fixing it. Just because they chose that path does not mean it needs to control yours.

I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve had in the decision to go back to school. Jim, my family and friends have all been incredible, and the Twitter love has not gone unnoticed. Thanks so much for all the words of encouragement and reminding me that while this may seem so overwhelming at times, it will be so worth it in the end.

I hope you guys love the new site and are as excited about this new venture as I am. I can’t wait to read your feedback!

Until next time, stay happy, healthy and sweaty!

xoxo,

Brittany

Man Pleasing Turkey Meatballs

I may have mentioned this from time to time, but Jim is from the Mid-West. Occasionally this causes us to run into culture shock moments as a couple. Most of them revolve around food. Quality, quantity and food group. For instance, the first time I met his family and he told them I didn’t eat red meat. They stared at me like Jim had said I’m a cannibal. “But… why?” his mother said, truly concerned this dietary choice was masking some sort of underlying medical condition or psychological disorder.Turns out in the Mid-West they eat meat at every meal. All 7 of them each day from what I’ve seen.

Trying to cook clean, healthy meals can be a little difficult with a man who wants meat, potatoes and POSSIBLY a vegetable, depending on if it can be sneaked in without him noticing. So last week when I made turkey meatballs I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I had told him in advance, so I casually omitted the word turkey when I said “We’re having meatballs for dinner!” He was so happy I didn’t want to crush his dreams.

I found this great recipe on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and had been dying to try it. It seemed so warm and cozy I knew I had to wait until one of the first cool Fall days to actually try it. The second the forecast called for a high below 70 I was at the grocery store stocking up.

The players. Minus the Febreeze and Smart Water hiding in the background. Please do not add those.

The players. Minus the Febreeze and Smart Water hiding in the background. Please do not add those.

Making meatballs is an intimate experience. If you’re not the type of person who likes to get dirty when you cook or don’t like to really get your hands working into your food, home made meatballs are not for you. It’s about the feel and the sound the meatballs make when they’re coming together that lets you know what needs to be done.

Get everything into the bowl. Then get dirty.

Get everything into the bowl. Then get dirty.

There are no photos from this point until the meatballs are formed because I was home alone while cooking. Apologies if you needed instruction regarding the process. Google Paula Deen. I’m sure she’s done it at some point and she’ll have adorable catch phrases to guide you through.

For the sauce, I slightly modified the recipe that was provided.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can plain no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes. Note- I like things spicy. Feel free to reduce if this is a little much for your palate of if you have little ones. 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Sea salt if needed. Some people like things a little saltier, I’m not one of them. 
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade. Always fresh basil. I don’t believe in jarred. It has no taste, smell or comforting abilities. 

On medium heat, add the oil and once it has had a chance to heat up throw the garlic on top. Let that simmer for a few minutes until the smell is all around you. Then add the tomato sauce, combine well, followed by the sugar and salt if needed.

Once the sauce is together, add in the meatballs. It will look like this.

This is when the urge to start eating while cooking is it's most intense. The smell is incredible.

This is when the urge to start eating while cooking is it’s most intense. The smell is incredible.

Let everything simmer together for a few minutes so the flavors meld together. Meld is a strange word. Just now, even though I knew it was correct, I had to google it to be sure. Who comes up with these words? And why do I feel the need to complain about them when I’m clearly OK using them? Moving on now. 

Turn off the heat and add the mozzarella and basil. Cover the pan and, this is the hardest part- WAIT. Wait for a full 5 minutes. Because after you do, your creation will look like this.

This is my happy place.

This is my happy place.

Jim got home a few minutes later and devoured 80% of this pan. He kept saying I could make this again, which in his world translates to “This is amazing and I could eat this forever”. I told him when he was done that they were turkey meatballs and he said “Well what did you use for meat?”. Turkey, sweetheart. All turkey. It took a few minutes, but he eventually warmed to the idea and realized that if they were healthier for him that meant he could eat them more often.

These are now a staple in our house. Over pasta, on french bread, on garlic bread, just by themselves. You can’t go wrong. It’s a perfect pre-long run meal for Friday nights. My advice is to make the meatballs in mass quantities and freeze a few servings of them if you have room in  your freezer. If they make it that far…

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Brittany

Lightened Pumpkin Cake!

Fall has arrived my friends. The glory of crisp mornings, hoodies, football games, backyard fires, perfect running weather at all times of day and pumpkin flavored everything. Maybe it’s because I’m a Fall baby, but Summer has nothing on Fall. You could call me obsessed. I wouldn’t stop you.

A few days ago I found myself with an extra two hours before I had to be at work. I spent most of the day thinking I needed to be at the bar at 4pm. Turns out, not until 6. So, what to do with an extra two hours in my day? I’d already gone to Tone Up class with Ida, which is quickly replacing Group Power as my favorite weight training class. Picture Zumba, weight training and aerobics combined into one hour of butt-kicking cross training. Obsessed.

Since the workout was done, baking won the extra time. Not homework. Not reading. Not networking. Baking. Sound thinking. I browsed my Pinterest boards to find something fall-like and delicious to embrace my love of the season that is so close to being in full bloom. Or various states of death. However you choose to look at the situation.

I came across this great recipe from Whipped and decided with a few changes, this could defi

nitely work.

Since I’m not a vegan the original recipe certainly wasn’t going to work. I also like to add a few subtle flavors in where I can so I changed up a couple of the plain-er ingredients for even yummier versions. Here’s what you’ll need:

Our cast of characters.

Our cast of characters.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup smashed banana
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8oz Vanilla Non-Fat Chobani
  • 1 (15oz) can Libby’s pumpkin (store brand never tastes right)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

With an electric mixer, combine eggs, banana, sugar, oil, Chobani and pumpkin until it is smooth. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and then sift them slowly into the wet ingredients, continuously mixing on low. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps of flour.

Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes at 350.

While the cake is baking, you can start on the icing. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 8-ounce softened cream cheese. I used regular Philadelphia brand, but I think the whipped version may work better for a lighter, fluffier frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pre-mixed cinnamon/sugar spice

Add butter and cream cheese together and blend with an electric mixer. Once they are fully combined, add sugar slowly, continuously mixing on low. When the mixture is light and fluffy add the vanilla followed by the cinnamon/sugar. I noticed the little bit of spice in the frosting gave it a whole new, even more fall-like flavor.

The cake cooled, the icing sat and a very impatient half hour later I frosted. And then I ate. Ohhh, I ate.

Moist. Sweet. Decadent. I want more.

Pumkin-y Perfection.

Let me clarify- this is not LIGHT. It is LIGHTENED up. I don’t believe in using fake sugar, chemicals and other grossness to lower a calorie count. Eat real food. Do real workouts. It all balances out.

To run this baby off I’ll be running the Rock and Roll Providence Half Marathon on Sunday. I can’t wait.

Have a great weekend everyone!

xoxo,

Brittany

In Case of Emergency- Road ID App Review!

Picture

In running, as in life there are hazards we prefer not to think about. A few months ago I was stunned and saddened to hear a former co-worker of mine had been kidnapped and later murdered after leaving her apartment early in the morning to go to the gym before heading into the office. It was one of those stories that so easily could have been you or anyone you know that it sent chills down the spine of thousands of people who had never so much as met Amy. To know her made the entire situation even more tragic: beautiful, talented, and above all KIND. One of those rare people who is always smiling so much you can’t help but smile around here. She will be forever missed, and an entire city more cautious in her honor.There was nothing Amy could have done to prevent or avoid what happened to her. Despite that chilling knowledge, the situation still made me want to be extra cautious when I hit the roads, regardless of what time of day it may be. So a few weeks ago when #Runchat was sponsored by Road ID, the subject was of course, safety.

A few of us recommended shooting a text to someone to let them know you’re heading out for a run, others wrote out their planned route and estimated time of return. Some insisted running early was safer, others dusk, some will run anywhere and any time. Then Road ID announced their new app which had seemed to already take all of our advice and done us one better.

Quite possibly my favorite feature on the app is the “eCrumb” you can leave. The eCrumb allows your family or friends to track you in real time on your run. Besides the amazing convenience of this for long runs if you have to run solo (“Honey, will you drive a water over to me in an hour or so?”) this is one of the most amazing safety features I’ve heard of. If God forbid something should happen your loved ones no longer need to worry about where along the route you might be. They know. For sure.

Another incredible feature? Your lock screen can contain your information (Name, address, relevant medical history) and who emergency personel should contact in the event of an emergency. No more hoping for an ICE contact in your phone book. Amazing.

It’s never fun to think of the million “what-if’s” the world reminds us of on the six o clock news every night, but it is important to plan. My recommendation: download Road ID and check one worry about that upcoming 26.2 off your list. Now all you’ll have to do is train!