Happy Healthy YOU Year!!

Make 2015 a “Healthy YOU Year”. Find ways to boost your health, fitness, and well-being and be an inspiration to others!

Need inspiration to get started? Meet three people who changed their health habits – and their lives. They lost weight, became active, gained energy, and became role models so their children could live healthier lives too. Here are their stories and tips for making healthy living easier. They say if they can do it, you can too!


Grace

Grace0001

Grace Goad – Timbisha Shoshone Tribal Elder

Grace Goad changed her fast food eating habits to reach two goals: She wants to live as long as her mother – 105 years. And, she wants to be able to easily bend down to put on her socks.

Grace is 78 years old, and on the right track to achieve her goals. She lives in the tiny village of Timbisha, in the middle of Death Valley, California. She is able to change her eating habits and get some fresh fruits and vegetables. Some food is brought to the village by staff from Toiyabe Indian Health Project, located 120 miles away. Grace also goes to the town of Pahrump, 50 miles away, to shop.

Her trips to town used to include stops at fast-food restaurants. She used to not be picky about what she bought at the grocery store. But Grace wanted to lose some weight to be healthy and move more easily.

Grace also changed her physical activity. She walks every evening, after the heat of the day. She has arthritis in her knees and uses a walker. But that doesn’t stop her. “I walk from my home to that trailer over there.” Grace points to a trailer near her house. With a walker and arthritis, that is far away! But that doesn’t stop Grace. She has goals to walk to the tribal center, and then walk to her sister’s house which is on the far side of the village.

In two week, Grace has lost two pounds! But better than that, she feels good knowing she is on her way to achieving her goals.

Grace has already achieved her other goal. “I can bend over and put on my socks! Ha!” At that moment, Grace bends over, touches her toes, then stands straight up, smiling big.

Here is what Grace did to change her eating habits:

  • Eats oatmeal for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs. She knows oatmeal is good for her heart.
  • Changed the name of “convenience” stores. She calls them all “junk food stores.”
  • Buys fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and rice at the grocery store. She always has these items in her house so she can include them in almost every meal.
  • Changed the way she orders “fast food.” She gets picky about breakfast sandwiches. She orders them on English muffins and not croissants. She orders them with only one egg, without sausage or cheese. “I am satisfied,” she says.

Desba

“I was young and in love. My boyfriend and I enjoyed doing lots of things together – especially eating. We at three big meals a day, usually washing them down with a couple beers. We ate until we were stuffed and it wasn’t long before I needed medication for acid reflux. But it seemed nothing could slow me down and while my weight soared to 250 pounds, I just kept eating.

Desba0001

Desba

Then the breakup happened. It was a difficult time for me. And in the middle of it all was my excess weight and low energy. I had been worried about my health for a while but never took the time to make changes. Now I had the time and I made the decision to begin taking care of ‘me.’

I started by eating less than half of what I ate with my boyfriend. I also started walking to clear my head. Pretty soon I didn’t need the acid reflux pills anymore. My red, puffy face was transformed to smooth and youthful looking skin. And just by eating less and walking I dropped 40 pounds. I was amazed at how much better I felt.

Looking back I felt like I couldn’t get enough food – always living to eat. Now I enjoy what I eat but I eat only until I’m not hungry anymore. I still eat the same foods as before, just not as much of them. And I enjoy them more. I not only survived the breakup, I actually thrived by changing my life.

Sometimes I slip into old habits and eat like the old days. Too much meat, too much everything. It takes my body about two days to recover and I’m happy to return to eating just what I need.

I’m proud of myself.   I don’t see my old boyfriend anymore, but I can see my toes.”

Desba’s tips for improving your health by eating less:

  • Listen to your body and eat only until full.
  • Savor every bite.
  • Go for a walk. Get up and move.
  • Expect some setbacks, but don’t let them push you back into your old habits.

Anna and Pat

Anna and Pat0001

Anna, Pat and their daughter, Eagle Woman

“My husband dreamed of our daughter before she was born. In his dream she was strong and independent – her name was Eagle Woman. This is the name we gave her when she was born. Our little girl is now 3 years old. She is beautiful and smart and powerful, and, yes, strong and independent, like an Eagle.

My husband and I made several important decisions when we decided to have a baby. For one thing, I made a point of eating lots of fruits and vegetables while pregnant with Eagle Woman. It helped me stay healthy during my pregnancy and I believe it made it easier for our baby to like them later on. How many three year olds do you know love broccoli and carrots? She likes to dip them in ranch dressing. And she likes all kinds of fruits.

She likes fruit juice too. In fact, she likes it so much she’d probably drink it all day if we let her. But it’s not good for a child to have so much juice. She drinks milk with her meals – always low-fat – and usually just water in between.

When diabetes runs in your family, like it does mine, you just have to take extra precautions. We all know that fruits and vegetables are best for children. But sometimes well-meaning relatives want to spoil Eagle Woman with candy. My husband and I explain that eagles are sharp and worthy of pride; we want only the best for her and that does not include candy and other ‘junk food.’

It takes time and effort to offer fruits and vegetables with meals. But Eagle Woman is worth it to us. It’s just something we have to do as parents. She’s everything to us. Someday she will soar just like the Eagle.”

Anna and Pat’s healthy eating tips for the whole family:

  • Make a commitment to yourself and your family to be healthy and strong for yourself and each other.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables over candy and other ‘junk food.’
  • Offer fruits and vegetables during meals.
  • Limit the amount of sugar foods.

The one thing all of these stories have in common is that everyone started slow, making small changes that they could easily stick to. As you start your journey towards a Healthy YOU Year, look for small healthy changes you can make in your life and make a list. Can you walk for 10 minutes a day? Get rid of one soda a day and have water instead? Make it a priority to eat breakfast every morning? How about choosing a fruit or vegetable to snack on once a day? Now pick one of the things from your list and do it. When that starts to feel easy, pick another thing from your list and keep going! Before long you will amaze yourself and become an inspiration to others.

Need more inspiration? Check out this website for more stories from other people just like you who made small changes into a BIG difference in their lives. http://www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/Diabetes/index.cfm?module=resourcesPrintableMaterials

Advertisements

Nutrition Education with Strawberries in American Indian Communities

First StrawberriesOne more post this month about strawberries! For those that are working in the field of nutrition education in American Indian communities, we recommend the book The First Strawberries by Joseph Bruchac.  The story is not only about how strawberries came to be but also a message of family, love, and forgiveness.

We have used this story often with pre-school aged kids.   It is easy to come up with a kid friendly snack using berries. One snack that received rave reviews was strawberry s’mores. Each child gets 2 graham cracker halves. Put a dollop of cool whip on one half and then let the children layer on some berries.   Use whatever berries are in season or on sale! Then put the second graham cracker half on top. Finally, enjoy!

With older youth (grades 3 and up), it is easy to take the storytelling piece a bit further.   One great activity is to read the story and then have the youth pick their favorite food and write a legend about it. They love to illustrate the story too. Sometimes it is more illustration than words but it is amazing to see where their creativity can take them.

If you have any other fun strawberry related nutrition education ideas, we’d love to hear them in the comments!