My first talk was at Oceans Palms Elementary. One hundred and sixty kiddos were selected to participate in a health and wellness talk by an "Ironman athlete". The kids were hand selected based on demonstrating two of the schools' pillars: Caring and Trustworthiness.
When I was asked to speak to the school, I hoped for a March opening.....what better than to speak to the kids during National Nutrition Month!
With many of the kids training for their first kids triathlon, I knew they would be excited to see some of my toys, so I couldn't resist bringing in my bike, aero helmet, Ironman medals and sunglasses. I am not a professional athlete but the kids sure did make me feel like one!
I decided to show a Youtube video of the Ironman "You will do this" that always sends chills down my body when I watch it on the 2 nights before an Ironman. The kids likewise thought it was SO COOL.....I could hear them whisper..."Wow, 26.2 miles of running!!" I guess it is kinda crazy if you think about it.
I absolutely love speaking to kids as I feel the message that I send to kids is not far off from how I "counsel" adults. Love your body, fuel your body, have a healthy relationship with food, eat more wholesome food, move your body daily and don't be afraid to try new things.
Sadly, when working with adults, body image is often a priority and unrealistic habits and often the diet and exercise routine is taken to an extreme. For with kids, it's easy to see when a child is "healthy". They sleep better, act better, think better and of course, feel better. For adults, they want to feel better and be more healthy but diet and exercise are only two "controllable" parts of the picture. For many adults are too stressed, overwhelmed and often filled with anxious or obsessive thoughts and many times, health is compromised not at the cost of "not being good" with nutrition and/or exercise but due to daily lifestyle choices. Sure, some are not within your control but others are modifiable..that is, if you are willing to change certain areas of your life.
Kids are amazing. They are open to new things and like to do what their friends are doing. They also think everything is cool and different and despite their words, they really do listen. They are also really good at learning from others by their actions, for often you don't have to say anything but kids can pick up on what you are trying to do or achieve.
To start my talk, I wanted to discuss one of the pillars: Caring.
I asked the kids if they care about their body and I responded by telling them how I care about my body...
1) I care about my body because I do not like getting sick. Therefore, I make sure I get lots of vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies on a daily basis.
2) As a triathlete, I care about what I put into my body, so I spend 1 hour a day making yummy creations in my kitchen so that I can fuel my body for my workouts.
3) I also care about my body SO much that I want to try to reduce my risk of getting diseases, like cancer, diabetes or have a heart attack. Therefore, I make sure that I am always having fun when I exercise, like running with dog. I also make sure that I get a good sleep most days of the week and always keep a positive attitude.
After picking 10 volunteers to be my tasters, I found it important to talk about good and bad food. Two words that are common in the adult vocabularly.
I asked the kids if there are bad foods in this world. They screamed YES. I asked them what are bad foods? The kids responded...
To the adults reading my blog...sound familiar?
I expected those responses and mindful of eating disorders starting at a young age, as well as relationships and habits with food, I followed up their comments by telling the kids that there are no bad foods. I kept it simple and straightforward "There are lots and lots of foods out there that we should eat every day because we know that they improve our health, make us think better, help us feel more energized, give us stronger muscles and help us from getting sick. It's nice to save those other foods, like desserts, ice cream and sugary cereals for special occasions and to really enjoy them when you eat them."
To all those parents out there, you wouldn't tell your kids they are fat and need to lose weight on a strict diet or give them a list of "off limit" foods that they can never eat because they are bad. So, why do you do it to yourself?
Certainly, many people are dying from weight related problems. Take a minute and look at yourself in the mirror. Is obsessing about losing five pounds really worth it if you are living a healthful lifestyle and feel your life is filled with quality? If you do need to lose weight, will long-term success come from drastic short term actions? Often, diet and exercise are two parts of a big puzzle. Putting all the pieces requires work and time and not just trying to be perfect at two things.
If you were able to manage your weight all your life, have ample energy to partake in daily activities or competitive sports and you felt like other areas in your life were in balance, would you feel the need to have good or bad food, off limit food lists or engage in extreme exercise just to be able to eat whatever you want while trying to maintain a lean physique? Hopefully, you are saying no. For with kids, they are often aware of their body but they also don't truely appreciate how nutrition and exercise impact their overall health..both short and long term. So would extreme dieting or "bad" food lists be practical for a child like it is, in the eyes of many, for adults?
I told the kids that I have five powerful foods that I want them to try. And in order to shape up your plate, it’s very important to choose a variety of foods that don’t have a long ingredient list. In other words, you want to eat a lot of foods that are grown straight from the ground/earth and they aren’t made in a factory.
My five powerful foods are filled with lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, fiber and protein. These foods are just a few of many foods that will help you remember information, get stronger muscles, have more energy and of course, help improve your health for the rest of your life.
I told the kids that I know that sometimes foods can be kinda "plain" or boring, especially the first time you try them....So, I came up with a FUN way to make these five foods even more powerful by combining them with other foods and calling them my creations.
Here's my top five POWERFUL foods for the kids to try. I provided some basic info for you to tell your kids (or to inform yourself) as to why they are so powerful in the body.
1) Barley - this is a whole grain, filled with fiber so it is really good for the inside of your body and makes your digestive system very happy. Barley can be eaten any time of the day but it is really good for breakfast with some strawberries and cinnamon.
2)Oranges - How can you not love a food that is filled with natural sugars? They are filled with vitamin C to keep you from getting sick and they are good for your skin, your eyes and your heart. Another food that I like is chocolate but I like dark chocolate because it is a bit more powerful than milk chocolate. Rather than having dessert or candy after dinner, how about having some fruit every time you want something sweet or try a little dark chocolate with an orange for a sweet dessert after dinner.
3) Plain yogurt- Yogurt can be kinda sour when it is plain but I made it extra powerful by adding some granola and banana slices for a nutrient-packed creation. Yogurt is awesome for your bones and your muscles to keep you strong and growing thanks to vitamin D, Calcium and protein.
4) Kale- Kale is from the cabbage family and it is filled with antioxidants, vitamin K and vitamin A and it helps reduce your risk from cancer and other diseases. I came up with a neat creation by cooking the kale in the oven with a little olive oil and sea sat and I made kale chips. This is a yummy way to snack on veggies during the day, especially for an afternoon snack.
5) Avocado- Sometimes people eat it as a dip, like guacamole and other people like to slice it and put it on salads and sandwiches. I made a creation with an avocado by mashing it up so it is a perfect dip to go with whole grain crackers for a side dish for a school lunch. I added a little parmesean cheese for a little extra taste. Avocados kinda look like a pear and they are a fruit (due to the seed inside) but they are a great source of heart healthy fat for the entire body, especially for the heart and the brain.
I asked the kids:
1) Do you think you can eat my favorite top five foods on a daily basis?
2) Are you going to go home and tell your parents you want to grocery shop with them and pick out your favorite foods that are grown from the earth?
3) Are you going to spend more time in the kitchen, making your own yummy creations?
Here's a helpful handout that I gave to the kids..you can find it on my website at
Trimarnicoach.com (Click on RECENT NEWS - OCEANS PALM ELEMENTARY)