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It’s not easy to convince your kids to eat anything, but as parents we are all too well aware of saying the word “healthy” around them is a flashing red light for “doesn’t taste good”, though this really isn’t true, we have to teach them that the stigma attached to food being good for them isn’t a fair stereotype.  Here are some helpful hints helping us help our kids. Children learn from the meals you offer, the way you serve food, the way you shop, and the examples you set. Eliminate the junk food items from your kitchen and fridge and replace with healthy food choices, and let them pack their own lunch. Our definitive guide to a healthy lunch on the go—complete with nutrition-boosting tips, make-ahead strategies, and tasty pack-and-go recipes. A single dish is all you need for our collection of one-pot meals that are far from one-note.
It’s definitely challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle when the holidays roll around each year. This entry was posted in Healthy Eating, Physical Fitness, YMCA and tagged exercise, healthy eating, holiday weight control, nutrition counseling, weight loss, YMCA on November 29, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
Developing a positive identity through this sense of belonging empowers students to do better in school, to feel more self-confident and even to make big plans for their futures. It can be even more difficult for children who are bridging more than one culture to find a community where they feel they belong. Project Cornerstone, an initiative of YMCA of Silicon Valley, has partnered with hundreds of area schools to help adults learn to recognize the importance of their interactions with children. The first question an adult family member can ask a child is simply, “What is our cultural background?” Teaching children about their heritage will help to impart that sense of cultural belonging. The next question can be, “What are some things that you value about our culture?” Allowing children to find aspects of their culture that are especially meaningful to them is a great way to help them forge that connection between their own personal identity and their heritage. Another discussion topic is: “What are some things about our culture that you would like other people to know?” Sometimes people can encounter misunderstandings due to differences between cultures. Finally, adults can ask children the following: “Do you know anyone who’s from a different culture? Talking about other people’s cultures can open children’s eyes to the rich diversity of their community, and allow them to try and see the world from the point of view of a friend from a different culture. This entry was posted in YMCA and tagged families, family time, Kids, The YMCA Difference, Why the Y, YMCA on November 27, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA. Project Cornerstone’s focus on these seven values – caring, equality and social justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, healthy lifestyle, and restraint – is just one aspect of its program. For more information Project Cornerstone and the programs available for adults to become involved in becoming a positive role model for children, visit the Project Cornerstone website. This entry was posted in YMCA and tagged Kids, Project Cornerstone, The YMCA Difference, Why the Y, YMCA on November 25, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
We’ve assembled a list of tips to help you navigate the holiday season with minimal damage to your family’s healthy eating habits – and maximum holiday fun.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating and tagged families, family time, healthy eating, Kids on November 22, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA. In scenario two, you open your crumpled brown paper bag to find a smashed sandwich in a half-open baggie, a bruised apple and some crumbled cookies. Most kids – and most adults, too – would go for the more attractively packaged healthy food, rather than the sad, squashed and less healthy lunch. Putting these four simple tricks into practice takes almost no time at all, but it can make a world of difference in the way your child perceives his or her healthy school lunch.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating and tagged families, healthy eating, Kids on November 20, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
It’s the idyllic TV vision of childhood – little Johnny and Susie skip through the door, finally home from school. While chocolate chip cookies sure sound good after a long day at school, a much better choice would be a healthy snack, like fruits or veggies, whole grains or low-fat dairy. Veggies and Hummus – If Ants on a Log is the old favorite, hummus is the new one, popping up in school lunchboxes all over the country. So next week, take a few minutes to plan out some healthy after school snacks for your children. This entry was posted in Healthy Eating and tagged After School, families, healthy eating, Kids on November 18, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
Parents are often reminded how important it is to take care of themselves first, so that they’ll have the ability to take care of their children – and in the case of sleep, it’s no different. But more than that, not getting enough sleep can have both long- and short-term effects on your health. For children, getting enough sleep is just as important as it is for adults, if not more so – and for many of the same reasons. For more information about the health benefits of sleep, as well as tips to help increase the amount of sleep your family gets, download the national YMCA’s Sleep Well Quick Start Kit.
This entry was posted in Physical Fitness, YMCA and tagged families, Kids, sleep, The YMCA Difference, Why the Y, YMCA on November 15, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA. However, there are still some important guidelines that teens need to follow when beginning a program of weight training – otherwise, it can do more harm than good. First of all, a clear distinction needs to be made between weight training and weight lifting, bodybuilding and power lifting.
This entry was posted in Physical Fitness, YMCA and tagged Kids, teens, weight training, Why the Y on November 13, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
Whether you’re just getting into an exercise routine, or have been a fitness enthusiast for years, group exercise classes are a great way to ratchet your fitness level up a notch.
To sign up for group fitness classes at the Y, check out the class schedules from your local branch. This entry was posted in Physical Fitness, YMCA and tagged exercise, group fitness, The YMCA Difference, Why the Y, YMCA on November 11, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA.
With school back in session, you may be thinking that it’s time to put away the swimsuits and goggles until next summer but there is a lot to be gained from focusing on swimming all year. At the Y, we offer swim lessons and other aquatics programs year-round, for both adults and children. Swim lessons at the Y are a great way for your child to gain important – and potentially life-saving – skills in swimming.
And once your son or daughter has progressed beyond the need for basic lessons, the Y still has plenty to offer. In all Y classes, from beginning to advanced, your child will grow in skill, in confidence, and in character.
This entry was posted in Physical Fitness, YMCA and tagged After School, exercise, Kids, swim lessons, The YMCA Difference, Why the Y, YMCA on November 8, 2013 by Silicon Valley YMCA. Some schools drop out of new healthy federal lunch program, citing small portions and foods kids won't eat The transition towards healthier school lunches isn't sitting easy with some schools. After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money. Federal officials say they don't have exact numbers but have seen isolated reports of schools cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food. Districts that rejected the program say the reimbursement was not enough to offset losses from students who began avoiding the lunch line and bringing food from home or, in some cases, going hungry. In upstate New York, a few districts have quit the program, including the Schenectady-area Burnt Hills Ballston Lake system, whose five lunchrooms ended the year $100,000 in the red.
Near Albany, Voorheesville Superintendent Teresa Thayer Snyder said her district lost $30,000 in the first three months. In Catlin, soups and fish sticks will return to the menu this year, and the hamburger lunch will come with yogurt and a banana a€” not one or the other, like last year.
Nationally, about 31 million students participated in the guidelines that took effect last fall under the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The School Nutrition Association found that 1 percent of 521 district nutrition directors surveyed over the summer planned to drop out of the program in the 2013-14 school year and about 3 percent were considering the move.
The new guidelines set limits on calories and salt, phase in more whole grains and require that fruit and vegetables be served daily.
In December, the Agriculture Department, responding to complaints that kids weren't getting enough to eat, relaxed the 2-ounce-per-day limit on grains and meats while keeping the calorie limits. At Wallace County High in Sharon Springs, Kan., football player Callahan Grund said the revision helped, but he and his friends still weren't thrilled by the calorie limits (750-850 for high school) when they had hours of calorie-burning practice after school. Early habits can last a lifetime, so it’s never too early to make a change, which is why it’s important to get them to try new foods. If you see that your kid is indulged in a particular chips or snack bar then make it disappear and offer an attractive yet healthy replacement.
We’re confronted with decadent treats and rich meals at every turn – family gatherings, office parties, get-togethers with friends.
By following a few simple tips, you can keep yourself on the straight and narrow this holiday season, while still indulging in all the fun the season holds. Every young person, whether it’s a kindergartner timidly entering school or a teen pushing for more independence, needs to feel that they belong somewhere. Being comfortable with and proud of their identity is important to a child’s health and well-being. If a young person is treated differently because of his or her ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender, it can have a negative impact on their ability to feel comfortable with their identity.
Because of the importance of a positive cultural identity in a child’s life, it is vital that adults act as role models for the children in their communities, recognizing, celebrating and showing understanding for all cultural identities.

Project Cornerstone has assembled a list of discussion topics that adults – and especially family members – can use to help children better understand their own cultural identity, along with those of others in their community. Encouraging a child to talk about these misunderstandings, and about how to promote understanding instead, can help him or her handle these situations in future. Promoting positive interactions between children from different cultures is another important part of helping children develop a positive cultural identity, as we work towards a world in which every child is treated equally, regardless of background or identity. Through Project Cornerstone, an initiative of YMCA of Silicon Valley,  adults learn how to support children and teens so that they can thrive. Caring: Children and teens need to feel that it is important to care about and help others. Equality and Social Justice: It’s important for young people to value equality, as well as working to reduce hunger and poverty.
Responsibility: Taking personal responsibility for one’s actions, as well as accepting responsibilities, rather than shying away from them, are both important signs of maturity in a young person. Healthy Lifestyle: Understanding the importance of good health habits is vital to a child’s development. Restraint: Once children reach middle and high school, restraint also becomes a health issue. With the help of the adults in our community, we hope to make a real difference in the life of every child. Trick-or-treating just wouldn’t have been the same without candy, and Thanksgiving is practically synonymous with turkey and stuffing. You can still feel free to enjoy every party, every event and every holiday with your loved ones, but with just a little advance planning, you’ll also be able to remain in control of your eating habits. With just a little bit of advance planning and forethought, it’s easy to make it through the holidays with your family’s healthy eating habits intact. As parents, we want to make sure our children are getting the best nutrition possible at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The way you present the food makes a huge difference in how appetizing it will seem to your children at lunchtime. There’s a strange law of healthy eating that states: If a child helps to prepare something, he is much more likely to eat it. Their smiling mother greets them in the kitchen with a warm plate of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and tall glasses of milk. Moms are busier, and kids are busier, and families balance sports and other after school activities and important family time.
With that in mind, here are a few recipes for delicious and nutritious after-school snacks your kids will eat right up. Whether you hand it to them as they come through the door, or pack it as a take-along, they’re sure to appreciate how much you care.
If you are running on just a few hours of sleep, you’ll be more susceptible to stress and irritability, and more likely to let your exhaustion decide things for you.
You’ll be strengthening your immune system, boosting your metabolism and mood, improving your memory and ability to learn, and promoting other vital functions by allowing your body to get the sleep it needs. But in addition to all the health and mood benefits that sufficient sleep provides to children, it also aids in the battle against childhood obesity. In a weight training program, teens focus on improving musculoskeletal strength and overall fitness. The right motivations are to increase strength and improve their fitness level, body composition, and sports performance, while at the same time reducing their risk for sports injuries. They should get a check-up at a doctor’s appointment before they begin any training at all, to ensure that they are healthy enough for the exercise. Any spirit of competition in the weight room can lead teens to try and outdo each other by lifting heavier weights, or making other unsafe choices. And with all the different options the Y offers, there’s a group exercise class for every fitness level and every interest. Yes, you’ll get a great workout and improve your health while having fun doing something you love, but that’s not all. You’re more likely to show up – and keep showing up.  A resolution to exercise won’t do you any good unless you actually get started…and then keep it up, even when your motivation lags. You may not be spending lazy days lounging poolside in the summer sunshine anymore, but that’s no reason to deprive yourself and your children of all the benefits of swimming. As with every program we offer at the Y, there’s a unique twist to our swim lessons that you just won’t find anywhere else: the emphasis placed on developing the whole person – spirit, mind and body.
But they are also a great way for your child to grow as a person, developing character and confidence by stretching and challenging themselves at each lesson. Swim teams provide a wonderful opportunity for experienced swimmers to up the ante and push themselves to new heights through swim leagues and swim teams.
They’ll be having fun while they learn to challenge themselves to do their best – and that association of fun with hard work will carry over into other parts of their lives, as well. She should be healthy enough to take care of the whole family and contribute for the generations to generations. Superintendents and parents say kids don't like the new menus and aren't full enough, causing the cafeterias to lose money.
The program didn't even make it through the school year after students repeatedly complained about the small portions and apples and pears went from the tray to the trash untouched.
Voorheesville's chef began serving such dishes as salad topped with flank steak and crumbled cheese, pasta with chicken and mushrooms, and a panini with chicken, red peppers and cheese. Janey Thornton, deputy undersecretary for USDA's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, which oversees the program, said she is aware of reports of districts quitting but is still optimistic about the program's long-term prospects. A typical elementary school meal under the program consisted of whole-wheat cheese pizza, baked sweet potato fries, grape tomatoes with low-fat ranch dip, applesauce and 1 percent milk.
The idea of dropping the program has come up at board meetings, but the district is sticking with it for now. Peer pressure and media is also playing its role in making the fast food look more delicious and tempting, so be creative and make your kids lunch look more delicious than any commercial will.
Add as many colors to the healthy bowl of food as you can because colors make the food more lively and delectable. Celery and raisins become “ants on a log,” peanut butter and pretzels can be “mud on a stick,” and spaghetti with sauce can turn into “wiggly worms.” Take Goldfish swimming in a new soup.
Our schedules become so hectic that exercise gets left by the wayside, and grabbing dinner at a fast food restaurant suddenly doesn’t sound so bad anymore. Whether you’re already on a weight-loss diet, or just thinking of starting one, the holiday season is the worst possible time to try to reduce your caloric intake. While weight loss and a healthier lifestyle are admirable New Year’s resolutions, don’t make big plans to start a strict diet on January 1. Need a little help working nutrition and healthy eating into your wellness plan year-round?
They need to know that they are a valued part of a community – whether that’s their family, their culture, their religion or another community. One of the topics discussed is that of the positive values a child needs to internalize to make healthy choices in life, such as staying away from drugs and alcohol, or doing their best in school. Seeing the value inherent in every individual will also help them see themselves as important members of their communities.
When children see that it is possible for them to make a difference in someone else’s life, their self-esteem gets a definite boost. Teens need to develop this self-control in order to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. Hanukkah calls for latkes and blintzes, and Eid for all kinds of sweet treats, while Christmas usually involves feasting on a variety of rich foods all through December.
With all the parties and gatherings you’ll be a part of this season, it’s just common sense to expect that you and your family will occasionally eat a little more than usual. So rather than surprising your son or daughter with an unfamiliar veggie at lunchtime, let him or her help you make a salad, or prepare a healthy snack.
As tempting as it may be to grab a few pre-packaged lunches from the grocery store, the truth is that making lunch from scratch will always result in a healthier meal. Water is really the best drink you can include with a lunch, but it can seem kind of boring after a while – especially when compared with a neighbor’s sugary fruit punch or chocolate milk. Your efforts may just inspire other kids to ask their moms to make similar lunches for them.
As they sit down to tell her all about their day, they devour the plate of cookies, and then head right up to get their homework done before dinner.
Chop celery into 3 or 4-inch lengths, fill the trough with peanut butter, and top with raisins. Take a colorful assortment of fruits, such as strawberries, bananas, peaches, or apples, and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Not only to feel alert and energetic, but also simply to maintain a basic level of good health. What with work, chores, errands, helping kids with homework, and shuttling them to various activities, sleep usually comes in last on our daily list of priorities. You’ll be more likely to settle for fast food for dinner, or to skip that evening’s family workout. Sufficient sleep also plays a role in the prevention of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Strangely enough, the more sleep a child gets, the less likely he or she is to be overweight.
But once they’ve reached that threshold, hormones make it possible for them to increase muscle mass, and it becomes much safer, as well. Teens who add weight training to their weekly exercise routines reduce their risk for sports injuries by half. Weight lifting, bodybuilding and power lifting all involve high-intensity training that is not appropriate for teens.
Then, they should ease into the program, using body weight exercises to begin with, such as push-ups and sit-ups, before transitioning to free weights and weight machines.
Teens need to use lighter weights and higher numbers of repetitions, with plenty of breaks, to tone their muscles.
It’s best to keep the training fun, so that injuries are less likely, and teens enjoy the exercise – which can lead them to a lifetime of fitness.
There are many other reasons why taking a group fitness class at the Y is such a great idea. The fact that the others in your class, not to mention your instructor, will notice your absence, usually provides enough of a impetus to get people out the door and into the gym.
When you’re on your own, you may slow down a little when you get tired, or even give up when you get winded. We’ve all heard the advice that in order to really motivate ourselves to exercise, we should choose an activity we feel is fun. While they focus on teamwork and racing skills, swimmers drive themselves to do even better than their very best each time they swim. She is the one who runs behind every person to keep up their requirements and needs for the day.
That takes the option of quitting off the table for schools with large numbers of poor youngsters.
You can cut the fruits and vegetables in different shapes and make cute faces or funny looking characters from them.
If you give in to temptation and sneak some treats at a party, you’ll feel guilty, and may even be tempted to quit your diet altogether.
A resolution like that can cause a Mardi Gras mindset – feast now, because you’ll be fasting tomorrow.
Here in Silicon Valley, give your Y a call for details on nutrition counseling sessions, which will be starting in January 2014. So what’s a health-conscious family to do when confronted with three months’ worth of unhealthy choices? Trying to maintain a strict diet while everyone around you is feasting could cause anyone to break down and binge on the treats they missed out on. During the holidays, make a point of only indulging in special holiday treats, unique to the season. That way you and your family won’t be as hungry or as tempted to overeat once you get there. So making their school lunches can present us with a dilemma – how can we ensure that their lunches are healthy enough for our taste, but fun and delicious enough for theirs? Then, when it resurfaces in his lunchbox the next day, he’ll recognize it as an old friend, rather than an unwanted interloper. Even if you choose the low-sodium, whole-grain version of that packaged lunch, it will still contain so many more preservatives and unhealthy additives than a simple homemade lunch ever could. Try including a sliver of fresh lemon or lime in your child’s lunch, which she can squeeze into her water to liven it up. But all that rushing around doesn’t mean you can’t prepare a healthy after school snack for your children each day. The combination of crispy and creamy is sure to please the pickiest eater – and the fanciful name doesn’t hurt, either.
The same goes for your children, as well – in fact, it’s even more important for them to get the right amount of sleep, in order to keep their growing bodies and minds strong and healthy. With all those benefits, it’s easy to see why getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night should be a priority.
Having that accountability built in is an ideal way to ensure that you actually keep up with your intention to exercise regularly. But in a group setting, the instructor will push you to keep going, even when you think you can’t make it another second. You can even serve vegetables with some yummy dip sauces-this will make the kids enjoy their healthy food more. If you do manage to say no to all the treats that everyone else is indulging in, you’ll end up feeling deprived – which can lead to binges later. Your new year will be off to a poor start if you enter it five pounds heavier than you were the year before.
Not only will it help to offset some of the extra treats you’re indulging in, but it will also help reduce stress levels, which can be high this time of year.
Wellness team members from each Silicon Valley Y have been receiving training on nutrition coaching, and are available to meet with members for tips, insights, ideas, and a personalized plan. Instead of depriving yourself and your family completely, join in the revels – within reason. Skip that cupcake in the office break room or that brownie in the school lunch, and enjoy some homemade pumpkin pie together that night instead. It’ll be enough for them to enjoy the holiday flavors but not so much that they feel stuffed afterward. You could even get creative and lead a family workout using cans of cranberry sauce instead of weights. In scenario one, you open your lunchbox to find a brightly-colored box, which in turn opens to reveal several smaller colorful boxes inside.
And even your kids will admit that after a while, the novelty of those lunches fades, and they’re just not as satisfying as a lunch made by Mom with love.
Even if you can’t eat it at the kitchen table together, you can send it with your children to their afternoon activities, so they get that nutritional boost they need to keep going until dinnertime.  Tiding them over with a snack is a great way to avoid running to another drive-through when they’re starving after practice. But you have family obligations to fulfill and even more work to get done, so you drag yourself out of bed anyway.
It offers many benefits for the active teen, including boosting bone density and strengthening tendons. That mentality can be harmful to an adolescent, not only because it can lead them to lift heaver weights than they should be lifting, but also because it can lead to the temptation to take steroids. Your instructor will check to see that everyone is doing each exercise correctly, for safety’s sake, as well as to make sure you’re getting the maximum fitness benefits. Not only that, but your classmates will also encourage you, simply by virtue of the fact that they’re still going. If you love meeting up with friends to exercise through dance, water aerobics, cycling, or any other of the myriad fun activities available at the Y, you’re much more likely to show up and give your all every time.
By strengthening a child’s skills in each of these areas, we are also building her confidence in herself, both in the pool and out. But you also want them to grow into happy, responsible adults of strong character who give their all, no matter what the situation. Most of the ladies tend to skip their food share to move with the wind to complete the tasks for the day. After just one year, some schools across the nation are dropping out of what was touted as a healthier federal lunch program, complaining that so many students refused the meals that their cafeterias were losing money.
Rather than trying to lose weight during this time of year, it’s best to focus your efforts on maintaining your current weight through the holidays. Better to plan simply on eating healthier foods and exercising more in the New Year, rather than on dieting. Make a point of doing some sort of physical activity each day, even when very busy or traveling. A New Year’s resolution to take advantage of this program might be just the thing to help you lose those extra holiday pounds – and keep them off for good. Eating just one of those frosted sugar cookies, for example, rather than three or four, will allow everyone to feel festive and indulgent without the guilt.
Just get your family moving a little more than usual to help burn those extra holiday calories. Each box is filled to the top with fresh fruit and veggies, and there’s a healthy wrap snuggled next to it all.
To add an extra element of fun to your homemade lunches, cut sandwiches into cute shapes, or slip a funny note into their lunchbox. And warm-up and cool-down stretching should be a required part of each weight training session.
Whether it’s the activity itself, the friendships you’ll form, or even a spirit of friendly competition, enjoying yourself makes all the difference when it comes to fitness.
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