Healthy Active+ist

Live Well. Pay it Forward.

December 16, 2016
by healthy activist
Comments Off on One Door Closes, Another Opens…..

One Door Closes, Another Opens…..

imgresI’m embarking on a new adventure and I couldn’t be more excited. First, let me talk about the chapter that’s ending….

At the end of this month my work with the Chatham County Partnership for Children will be finished. I’ve been coordinating our local Shape NC project for the past five years. Shape NC is a statewide project focused on early childhood obesity prevention and our funding ends this month.

I feel so great about the work we have done at the Partnership in collaboration with child care centers and community partners. Together we’ve made menus at child care centers healthier, built multiple vegetable gardens, transformed run of the mill playgrounds into natural outdoor learning environments, piloted a farmer’s market voucher project for families, helped build a nature trail, and much more.

I came to the job from Raleigh, where I was a policy analyst in the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the state health department. I wanted to get to know Chatham County, where I had just moved, and I wanted to work “in the field,” rather than writing policy papers that Raleigh lawmakers might or might not read. Wow, what a change. A good one. I’ve never once regretted it.

Here are some things that of course I knew but now got to live them: families with young children are exhausted, child care providers are incredibly hard working and woefully, woefully underpaid, healthy food often tastes yucky to young children, children are naturally physically active if you just let them be, and (most) everyone wants to do the right thing.

It has been such a privilege to work for the Chatham County Partnership for Children. They do vitally important work, helping to keep child care in our county high quality and safe. They help make it affordable and accessible for some. That they cannot make it affordable for all is a huge national policy issue. Child care in this country costs more than college. I hope to stay active as a volunteer for the Partnership. Please, support them however you can.

My passion was, and is still, helping to create a culture of health in our community. And my next project will allow me to continue that work. I am very excitedly planning to open a yoga studio in Pittsboro in the spring. More details on that, very soon! For now I will just say that I very much want the studio to be more than a yoga studio, but a community that brings people together who care about wellness – both our personal wellness and that of the world we inhabit.

I am so grateful for all that I have learned in these last years, and totally excited for the next challenge.

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

(From the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield)


July 14, 2016
by healthy activist

Balancing the Throat Chakra

imagesA spiritual healer observed recently after doing a breathing exercise with me that my throat chakra seemed closed. She explained to me that when the throat chakra is out of balance we have difficulty expressing ourselves.

As I thought about it over the next few days and weeks, I realized how much this resonated with me. It dawned on me that I’ve had one of the most silent years I can ever remember having.

I’ve bypassed several opportunities to present and share my work. My activism has slowed way down. I’ve barely written in this space. I’ve written quite a few things that have gone no further than my desktop. And I’ve spoken with friends and loved ones and not said the things that I really wanted to say. I’ve been undersharing. A lot.

It’s not that I don’t have things to say. It’s not that I haven’t been busy and engaged. It’s just that many of my thoughts seem caught in my head and my words stuck in my throat.

Not good. I’ve gone through times where I’ve lived life out loud and times, like now, where I have retreated. Out loud feels much better. Clamming up feels isolating and disempowering. It’s hard to connect with the rest of the world if you can’t speak your truth. My voice feels like a muscle, much the same as any other in my body. If I don’t use it, it tends to get weaker.

It’s my daughter’s fourteenth birthday today, and she’s away at arts camp. She seems to be having a wonderful time, and for that I’m really grateful.

As a young child she loved being the center of attention, independent, confident, a performer. One of the hardest things about watching her go through her early teen years is watching her lose that – temporarily, I hope.  I know that it is not uncommon for girls to lose their voice as they begin the self-awareness that comes with adolescence. It’s a well-documented phenomenon. Suddenly, they become aware that there is an audience out there that may or may not be judging them. They clam up.

She’s still a performer – she loves to act on stage. But she’s become unwilling to act when the words are her own. She’ll write a play or a poem, but she won’t perform it herself. It’s just too much vulnerability. I get it.

Ahh, vulnerability.

I have a friend who points out a neat bird in the woods whenever he doesn’t want to talk about something.

Wow! I just saw a really cool Great Crested Flycatcher out my office window…..

May 30, 2016
by healthy activist

Happy Trails

DSC_0036The end goal of much of the work I do is to help build a culture of health. I’m interested in helping to create places where it is easy to eat fresh, healthy food and move your body and where people see the value these things. As simple as that may sound, this sometimes feels like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Helping to create the Pittsboro Farm & Forest Trail this past year felt good. We created a permanent asset for the county for healthy, active outdoor living. Through our successful trail opening celebration, we were able to spread the word around town and we hope it gets used and enjoyed a LOT.

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January 10, 2016
by healthy activist
Comments Off on Rethinking Slides, Swings, and Jungle Gyms

Rethinking Slides, Swings, and Jungle Gyms

Despite the growing popularity of Crossfit for Preschoolers (yes, this is real), most little ones are still getting their exercise via the good old fashioned playground. But not all playgrounds are not created equal, especially when it comes to promoting physical activity.

I bet you think this playground would really get the kids up and moving:

Plastic playground

And you’d be right. Sort of. The problem is, playgrounds like this get boring, fast, especially if they’re at a school, where kids are on them every day. Here’s a University of Tennessee study that found that “Children who play on playgrounds that incorporate natural elements like logs and flowers tend to be more active than those who play on traditional playgrounds with metal and brightly colored equipment:” Here’s a quick synopsis of that study.

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July 17, 2015
by healthy activist
Comments Off on Ask Not What Your Lunch Lady Can Do For You….

Ask Not What Your Lunch Lady Can Do For You….

I had an illuminating chat recently with four ladies in our central administration office who have the responsibility – along with the cafeteria staff in each school – for feeding the over 8200 students in the Chatham County, North Carolina school district.

Breakfast and lunch for this hungry horde is orchestrated by just three full-time employees and one contract dietician who were kind enough to sit down with me in the midst of their busy summer planning sessions.

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June 12, 2015
by healthy activist

Back to the Mat

imgresI went back to yoga last night after months and months off the mat. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve done yoga daily, in the evenings, before bed. Periods where I go regularly to classes. And months of doing none at all. Habits are funny like that. They can slip away when you’re not looking. The good ones anyway. Bad habits seem to stick like crazy glue.

My aching body told me I had to return to yoga. I’ve been working it hard these past months, playing tennis, going to the gym, and gardening like a fiend. I’m as fit as I’ve ever been but I’ve also got an aching lower back and a sore arm to show for it. Continue Reading →

November 18, 2014
by healthy activist
1 Comment

Mom Power at the Good Food Force Meeting of Good Food ForceI was privileged to attend the recent meeting of the Good Food Force, a group of dynamic volunteers dedicated to getting the word out about healthy school foods, junk food marketing to kids, and strategies that are working to reduce childhood obesity. Through workshops, discussions and sharing our experiences, MomsRising armed us with motivation, inspiration, tools and resources (see below for some of the best) to advocate for change in our communities.

We were a diverse group, every one of us with a unique story to tell about why we were there and what we were working on in our own communities – but we were united in our desire to use our mom power to advocate for healthy food for kids.

What we were not united about? What exactly “healthy food” means.

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October 20, 2014
by healthy activist
Comments Off on When Pears are as Exotic as Rainbows and Unicorns

When Pears are as Exotic as Rainbows and Unicorns

I have mixed feelings about the annual “Eat a Rainbow Week” our local health department organizes in our community. It’s a week of events designed to promote fruit and vegetable eating – in schools, restaurants, farmer’s markets, etc. This is the second year I’ve served on the planning committee, and this year I also organized some special events in the preschools and child care centers I work with.

Even as I participate enthusiastically I fret about the message we are sending – that fruit and vegetables are something special to be eaten during “Eat a Rainbow Week” when really they should be nothing special at all. They should not be celebrated, just eaten, every day, a regular part of our daily lives, a part of our food culture. How has it come to this – that we have to organize incentives and special events for people to eat fresh foods. Are we promoting a culture of health or highlighting just outside the norm that healthy eating has become?

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May 17, 2014
by healthy activist

Do Your Clothes Move You?

I was intrigued by a recent headline in the New York Times “Well” section reporting on a study about exercise and blood sugar, Exercise ‘Snacks’ to Control Blood Sugar. It described a study showing that short bits of exercise during the day – a couple of minutes or so, were very effective at controlling blood sugar, more so than one hour or so long session. What kind of exercise? “Any activity that rapidly raises your heart rate and leaves you panting and sweaty for 60 seconds,” apparently. Interesting, but a little impractical, for many of us who get dressed in the morning in office attire and makeup hoping for a day free of panting and sweaty moments.

This study joins many others touting the benefits of being active throughout the day. The research and the message seems clear: being sedentary all day is really bad for your health. Our fabulous human brains have made it possible to do a lot of work using those brains and only those brains, but we neglect and abuse the other parts of our body to our peril.

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March 27, 2014
by healthy activist

North Carolina DHHS Secretary’s Obesity Fix: Let’s Move the Vending Machines Somewhere Out Of Sight

I recently attended the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Summit in Raleigh and had the pleasure of hearing our state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services explain to the audience of childhood obesity prevention experts that childhood obesity was a problem.

It’s a rookie mistake I’ve made myself and seen many, many others make: quoting public health statistics (in this case, many of them, and at length) to an audience that lives and breathes those statistics every day.

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