Category Archives: Fitness

The Importance of Physical Education For Kids

The Importance of Physical Education For Kids

IMG_6837This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Parenting is somewhat of a social experiment, especially when you have multiple kids with different personalities. But as a mother to four kids there are a few certainties that have worked across the board for all of mine. If my kids don’t get enough sleep, they are a mess the next day. If they are hungry, they get cranky, and if they don’t get the opportunity to get out and do something active each day, they get rambunctious. My kids are much more likely to settle down and concentrate when they have had the chance to get some exercise at some point in their day. I feel like those are all pretty common findings among parents. My husband is a physician specializing in cardiac imaging, so he comes at the importance of physical activity from not only a behavioral perspective as a parent, but with knowledge on what a healthy heart looks like. And he comes home from work emphasizing how important physical fitness is to our overall health. I am thrilled to partner with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in advocating for expanded physical education in schools.

Active kids simply learn better.

Our elementary physical education teacher, Ms. Carr taught all four of our kids. Her energy and enthusiasm helped early on to nurture their enjoyment in being active. It became clear to me watching my children thrive, and become more confident under her guidance, how important establishing healthy habits is during primary school for kids. My youngest is now in middle school, but PE is still one of his favorite subjects, and Ms. Carr will always be one of their all time favorite teachers. More recently our state of Rhode Island passed a bond supporting improved parks, bike paths, and recreational areas. As parents, having safe, natural spaces will help to give us more opportunities to augment the 100 minutes per week of physical education required of schools in our state.

Regular physical activity has been scientifically proven to have positive benefits to both body and mind, yet it is too often one of the first programs to be cut from school budgets. It is associated with longer life, lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and even some cancers, physical fitness lowers the risk of mental health problems, and it has been shown to improve academic performance. These benefits are true for all children, no matter where they live, in a rural or urban setting, regardless of race, ethnic, or socio-economic factors. Where a child lives should not dictate their health. Unfortunately, racial and socio-economic inequalities leave many schools without the resources necessary to provide physical education to their kids.


Research shows that kids need 60 minutes of physical activity each day yet only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year. Parent polls show that 95% understand the importance of incorporating PE into the school curriculum. That means that we, as parents, need to raise our voices and make sure that we are looking out for all children in our country by advocating for the inclusion of Physical Education in every state under the federal education law Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. If health and physical education are not core components of the plan, programs will not have access to the funding needed to keep them running.

Our children are the future, and it is up to us as parents to make sure that we are laying the groundwork for their ability to best succeed. Expanded physical education positively impacts the physical, emotional, and mental health of our children, while improving their academic performance. Learn how you can help to give all children the best groundwork for success with increased PE in your community by visiting the Voices For Healthy Kids website.

ORIGIN Magazine & The SOULSHINE Tour With Michael Franti

ORIGIN Magazine & The SOULSHINE Tour With Michael Franti

When I met the publisher of ORIGIN Magazine, Maranda Pleasant, at the Social Good Conference in New york City last October I never imagine that seven months later I’d be IN one of the issues of ORIGIN! OK, so this is my Mike Wizowski moment, and I’m merely a thumbnail on page 74, but I’m just so excited to be in the same magazine as Giselle (and not as a fashion don’t)!!

Yoga. Art. Music. Conscious Lifestyle. Humanitarianism. Sustainability. One Platform.


The new issue just hit  newsstands nationwide , and highlights the SOULSHINE Tour with Michael Franti launching in June. The tour will be coming to a city near you, and it is going to be incredible. SOULSHINE brings music and yoga together like never before, and  I’m thrilled to be the Rhode Island Ambassador for it! When I found out I needed to submit a photo I immediately asked my talented friend Rebecca Stearns of Rebecca Stearns Photography to take it for me. Maranda asked each ambassador to answer the question;

What Makes Your Soul Shine?


If you have ever experienced ORIGIN Magazine then you already know what a pleasure this high quality publication full of amazing content for mind, soul, and body is to dive into. Maranda Pleasant, pours her seemingly boundless passion and energy into every issue with features on all of the things I love to read about.   Topics such as social good, the environment, yoga, music, global issues, mind/body health, and art, are explored through interviews and stories with celebrities, and leading experts in their field. To me ORIGIN magazine is the evolution of what magazines should be, a vehicle for inspiration and positive impact in our lives and our world.


*All photos courtesy of ORIGIN Magazine

Citi #EveryStep of the Way Program

Citi #EveryStep of the Way Program

 The Olympic Games are compelling on their own, but what really makes them heroic to me are the stories behind the athletes. 2014 in Sochi brought a whole new emotional roller coaster of personal triumphs to the world. Alex Bilodeau the Canadian who won a gold medal in moguls who is inspired by his brother who has cerebral palsy. Pakistan’s Olympian Mohammed Karim who learned to ski on homemade wooden skis. The Jamaican Bobsled team of course, and in my mind none so valiant as the Paralympic athletes who had to compete with the political turmoil of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as a backdrop. Some athletes won medals, and some won the hearts of the viewers, but there are nine U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes working with nine programs in need to bring about real positive change in people’s lives. With the positive impact they will make in others’ lives, to me they are true winners, and heroes as well.  Although the games are over for now the Citi Every Step Of The Way program is still going strong.   The exciting part is that you get to help decide where a $500,000 donation from Citi will go with just a click.

9 Athletes, 9 Charities

  • Julie Chu supports giving kids the chance to try hokey for free with the USA Hockey Foundation.
  • Billy Demong partners with Team For Tomorrow to spread olympic values to future generations.
  • Alana Nichols supports the Team USA Paralympic Champions Fund to raise money for aspiring US Paralympians.
  • Dan Jansen is helping US Olympians through hard times with the Olympians For Olympians Relief Fund.
  • Erin Hamlin is searching for the next great luge athletes with the USA Luge Slider Search.
  • Evan Lysacek is partners with Figure Skating In Harlem to inspire a new generation of figure skaters from urban areas.
  • Picabo Street takes on injury prevention for skiers and snowboarders with the Team USA Stay On The Slopes Initiative.
  • Rico Roman and Operation Comfort supports giving back to our country’s veterans.
  • Ted Lightly supports giving urban youth the chance to ski and snowboard with Youth Enrichment Services.

Just last week in Washington DC I listened as 2012 gold medal winning Paralympian Dennis Ogbe

The Author with 2012 Gold Medal Winning Paralympic Athlete Dennis Ogbe

The Author with 2012 Gold Medal Winning Paralympic Athlete Dennis Ogbe

spoke as an advocate in the fight against Polio. His story was amazing and if not for programs and mentors that help inspire young athletes with disabilities he would never be where he is today. He was  born in Nigeria, and contracted Polio as a child. With eleven other siblings things could have turned out much differently for him in a country where individuals with disabilities are usually marginalized in society. Luckily he had parents who did not give up on him even when Polio left him struggling to walk. He regained his strength and tried to keep up with the other kids.  A coach noticed his athletic potential as Nigeria put together a training program for disabled athletes, and recruited him to join.  His story emphasized to me the need for mentors and programs to guide young people in the right direction, and to help them to fulfill their dreams. I greatly admire all of the athletes in the Citi Every Step of the Way program and the way they are using their stories of inspiration to help others. Who knows, one of the kids coming out of Alana Nichols US Paralympic Champions Fund could be the next Alana Nichols or Dennis Ogbe. It will be fun to keep an eye out to see!

Citi donated $500,000 to the U.S. Olympic Committee to help these programs #EveryStep Of The Way. Now fans can visit Citi® Every Step to see the athletes’ inspiring stories and help award Citi’s donation to any program with just a click.

This post was created in partnership with Citi®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Christy Turlington Burns Is My Girl Crush

Christy Turlington Burns Is My Girl Crush

Christy Turlington Burns is my girl crush because today she ran the New York City Marathon for mothers everywhere.

Christy Turlington BurnsIt’s not just because I grew up flipping through the pages she graced in fashion magazines.  Not just because she married Ed Burns, who is the totally hot and  amazingly talented Director & Actor. Or that she perfected her yoga practice, along the way producing a line of conscientiously made yoga gear. It is because she then went on to champion for mothers around the world with Every Mother Counts. After her own frightening experience during childbirth Christy became aware that her scenario could have been fatal, as it is for many women globally without access to the quality healthcare she had been provided. Every year hundreds of thousands of women die during or due to childbirth, mostly from preventable causes.

I have a girl crush on Christy because today she and her Every Mother Counts Team #RunEMC ran in the New York City Marathon to raise money for maternal health with the tag line, “we are running so other mothers don’t have to”.   And I think that is AMAZING. Recently I ran the FEED 10k and barely made it across the finish line, I can’t imagine the strength and dedication it takes to run a marathon!

This photo posted on Facebook the other day stopped me in my tracks.

babies copy


It made me think, this is why I do what I do, and I want to do more.  It made me think about the organizations I know who posted this photo, Maternova and Flight For Every Mother, of  Clean Birth Kits, and of Every Mother Counts, and Christy running the marathon. All for the sake of preventing a mother from losing her life while giving birth to another.

Why do we run?  Every Mother Counts participates in the NYC Marathon annually and other running events throughout the year to raise awareness about the impact distance and lack of transportation have on maternal mortality.  Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon these familiar racing mile-markers represent common distances pregnant and laboring women must travel in many parts of the world to reach basic and emergency healthcare services. Most of the time, they travel these distances on foot.  When roads are un-passable, transportation is unavailable and distances are too far, countless women go without prenatal care or skilled assistance at birth and far too often, the results are dangerous and tragic. Distance is the leading contributor that kills almost 300,000 women per year from pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions.-EMC Website

Here is the exciting thing, even though we didn’t run the marathon today, (I actually just got out of my pajamas), this month by downloading and using my favorite App, Charity Miles we can all participate in team Every Mother Counts. Charity Miles donates 25 cents for every mile we run or walk, so if we each do just one mile a day or a collective 26.2 miles by the end of the month, you will have generated enough funding to provide transportation for a mother in labor or in trouble to the hospital in Uganda. That or you can join the team and/or donate to the Every Mother Counts CrowdRise Page.


Congratulations to the Every Mother Counts Team for running the NYC Marathon while inspiring and helping mothers around the world. I’ll be running my #CharityMiles with you this month.

Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

ChopChop Big PicnicParsnip and Dill, I tell my kids. Those are my secret ingredients for delicious chicken soup. Well not my recipe I confess, but passed on to me by Grandma Nettie, Auntie Kimbo’s grandmother. They know that “Auntie” Kimbo is not really their aunt, and that her name is Kim (Kimberly but don’t tell her I told you!).  They also know that Kim and I have been friends since we were six, and somewhere Kim turned into Kimbo, as those things go with longtime childhood friends.

In any case, my kids and I love to cook together and it has been fun as they grow to watch them conquer more and more complex cooking tasks on their own. And by complex I mean my 10-year-old is up to the cracking the eggs into a bowl without bits of shell getting in. One of the most rewarding moments of motherhood so far was the birthday morning that I woke up to heart-shaped pancakes made for me by my 13-year-old daughter. My child had cooked for me , and that felt revolutionary.

I like to cook with them for the same reason that I like to keep a small (o.k. weed infested) garden in our backyard. I like for them to know where their food comes from. To understand the process of how what we put into our body is made, and that they can make food for themselves, it does not have to come in a package or be bought off a shelf. We had been big fans of the quarterly publication ChopChop Magazine for years, loving to try the healthful recipes and snack suggestions within its colorful pages. ChopChop is a non-profit  with the mission to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families.

Currently, 1 out of 400 children under 18 in the U.S. has diabetes, and nearly 1 in 3 is obese. ChopChop’s goal is to reverse this trend by teaching kids and their parents how to create healthy, delicious meals that are easy to prepare and use fresh, nutritious ingredients. ChopChop doesn’t demonize particular foods or use scare tactics. They just offer simple, healthy, and affordable recipes for children and parents to make together.

When we found out ChopChop had come out with a  ChopChop cookbook  we were thrilled.   We were sent a copy as a lead up to our participation in The Big Picnic, and when we received our copy of the cookbook  I had the kids pick out a recipe for us to try.  With four kids coming to a consensus can be challenging to say the least, this time somehow they all enthusiastically agreed that they wanted to make Matzo Balls to add to Grandma Nettie’s Chicken Soup.

The ChopChop Cookbook is made for kids so it is easy for them to read and follow the well explained simple recipes. Personally I never knew I could make Matzo balls, so to find them so easy to make surprised me. Of course the kids all wanted to crack the eggs so I was grateful that the recipe they chose called for 6! Of course rolling the Matzo balls was the most fun, but watching them fluff up as they cooked came pretty close.

big pic2

Inspired by National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, The Big Picnic is being hosted on September 22nd by ChopChop and partner organizations including The White House as a virtual community picnic in which families across the country will cook and eat together at their own picnics. It will be a fun event with a serious goal: preventing childhood obesity.  Who doesn’t love a picnic!?! They are a great way to remind us that cooking and eating healthy food together is lots of fun—a time to share and enjoy. This event is all about good food and good company!

You can join The Big Picnic however you like, spread out a blanket , eat at a picnic table – outside or in. Invite friends, family,  neighbors, and make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. Take pictures or video and share with the hashtag #bigpicnic, and as a participant you will be eligible to win prizes like subscriptions to the magazine, a copy of the  ChopChop cookbook or other fun surprises. We’ll be there, eating our Matzo Ball Soup!

You can also Enter to Win a ChopChop cookbook and a one-year ChopChop Magazine subscription Below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is an original post written by me as part of a program with The Mission List. I received a ChopChop cookbook + magazine subscription for culinary inspiration; as always all opinions are my own.