Posts Tagged ‘HealthStart’


HealthStart is proud to announce its recent designation as a charity recipient of the 2016 Austin Gives Miles fundraiser!

Running is such an amazing opportunity to represent and dedicate to yourself and your community. Everyone can walk or run to benefit themselves and their favorite nonprofit or charity. Here’s a beginner’s guide to training for your first nonprofit fundraising 5K in less than two months. (After that you can shoot for the half marathon! I’m thinking about it, anyway….)

First, find yourself some motivation. Mine came in the awful form of a divorce, to be honest. I had gotten myself a dog, because I knew I would be lonesome, and I also needed to get out of my routine a little bit. Turns out that running with my dog kept me feeling great in spite of everything, looking better than ever (if friends and family are to be believed,) and a walk/run regimen could absolutely do the same for you. The boost in feel-good brain chemicals go a long way, and it’s actually addicting (in a good sense!). You’ll find yourself wanting to get out the door. It helps to have a worthy cause as added motivation in training for a 5K: a direct connection to a fundraising cause is the primary motivator in first-time 5K runners. Three of my grandparents had diabetes, and my first 5K was in recognition of that fact. You know, HealthStart’s involvement with the Austin Gives Miles charity this year might be your reason to run…

I want to add something here: There are a thousand ways to spend money or look fashionable. When I started running, I was way too caught up in whether I had the right shoes or shorts or anything of the sort. (I still don’t.) I recommend that you start with what you have, and see if this running thing suits you. If you want to splurge, maybe consider giving to your favorite charity instead of the snazziest sneakers. My only other very serious recommendation is that you ask a doctor whether it’s A-OK for you to start a new exercise, particularly if you’ve had heart, knee, or any issues in the past that might relate to running.

So, you want to run your first 5K and get all of the added benefits while benefiting a nonprofit, too? You can really train for a 5K in less than two months. I did, using this guide, adapted from the Mayo Clinic 7-week training schedule for beginners.

Here’s how:

Start slowly. During the first week, you’ll walk or run/walk on five days, and rest on two days.

  • Day One (Let’s call it Monday): Start with a good, long walk. Warm up for five or ten minutes. Maybe just walk for thirty minutes on the first day. If you’re antsy, you can run for fifteen seconds, and walk for forty five seconds, for thirty minutes. See how you feel. Listen to your body, and stop if you want. There’s no pressure, and remember to be kind to yourself.
  • Tuesday: If Monday went well, then warm up for five or ten minutes, and do another 30 minutes of 15/45 run/walk intervals.
  • Wednesday: Walk 30 minutes.
  • Thursday: Run/walk your 15/45 interval for 30 minutes.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: Run/Walk for 3 miles. Use an app, like MapMyRun, to measure the distance. Using an app like this lets you post your progress to social media, or a running mentor, or a 5K buddy. You’re more likely to stick to your plan and see better results with social support!
  • Sunday: Rest! You’ve earned it.

I’m going to cut this article short and let you get on it! The rest, run, and distance are the same for the next six weeks except for the time intervals:

  • Week 2: Run 15 seconds, Walk 45 seconds for 30 minutes.
  • Week 3: Run 20 seconds, Walk 40 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 4: Run 20 seconds, Walk 40 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 5: Run 30 seconds, Walk 30 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 6: Run 30 seconds, Walk 30 seconds for 30 minutes
  • Week 7: Race week! Run the 30/30 on Monday, and Wednesday. Rest Friday. On Saturday, run your 5K!

A couple of notes:

  • Always, always, always warm up and cool down. Do some stretches, get your blood pumping before you start any serious exercise by walking at a good clip for at least 5 minutes.
  • If you’ve got a canine companion along for the trek, then it’s best to walk/run with your dog early in the morning during the heat of summer. The scorching hot asphalt and pavement are extremely hard on dog paws!
  • If you plan to run the half or full marathon contact HealthStart’s Outreach Coordinator Erin at erin.damm@healthstartfoundation.org for further resources and maybe even a personal training plan
  • Running is not necessarily a reason to increase your caloric intake. Check with your doctor or a dietician to make sure your nutritional needs are met but not exceeded.
  • Also, remember to hydrate, get enough electrolytes, and have fun!


About the HealthStart Foundation & Austin Gives Miles (AGM) Connection

HealthStart is looking for runner-advocates for the Austin Marathon on February 19, 2017 who will run on our behalf. As one of the 26 central Texas non-profits selected by the Austin Marathon for every $1 we raise Austin Gives Miles (the Austin Marathon’s nonprofit arm) matches what we raise dollar-for-dollar. Runners can run 3 distances: Full Marathon, Half-Marathon, or a 5K (max 2000 runners).  We ask that our advocate/runners raise $300-$500, that’s about 30 friends willing to donate $10 or more to support their run.

About the Author

Sarah Nielsen is the mother of a three year old. She’s an English teacher, who loves writing about family friendly health, nutrition, physical activity, and community activities.


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By Margaret Nicklas for Start Smart with HealthStart

We have all heard that fatty foods can be bad for our health, especially when the fat comes from animal sources like meat and milk. But how does this play out when it comes to keeping your child’s diet healthy? And what if lowering the fat content in what children eat means they consume more sugar?

getty_rm_photo_of_child_eating_yogurt_for_omega_3I first thought about this one day when my son balked at eating the vanilla yogurt I had brought home from the store because it was low fat – not the fat free type I usually purchased. Incredulous, I tried it and noticed that it did taste different – creamier and a bit blander – but certainly not bad. That’s when I wondered whether I was doing my child more harm than good by feeding him low and nonfat dairy products that might also be encouraging his already fierce sweet tooth.

Some light reading on the subject did not help dispel these thoughts. For instance, a recent article in The Huffington Post chided many popular low or non-fat yogurt products for having more sugar than a Twinkie ®. And while we would likely agree that yogurt is still a healthier breakfast choice than oblong, crème-filled cakes, it is important to understand that it can add a significant amount of sugar to any diet. Further, as the chart below illustrates, food companies generally do add sugar when they take away fat.

Yogurt Chart

Source: Values obtained from company websites or actual yogurt containers. Analysis performed by the author.


For more perspective on how to make good dairy choices for children, I contacted Dr. Stephen Pont, the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity’s medical director. He and his colleague Lauren Brauer, the Center’s lead registered dietitian, shared some of the organization’s practices.

In general, Pont’s patients are encouraged to choose nutrient-dense foods and cut back on foods high in fat or sugar, but “almost nothing is forbidden,” he stated in an email. “For our patients, we promote moderation and empower them to make more healthy choices.”

According to Pont, the Center recommends that most children consume 2-3 cups of low fat, unflavored milk per day depending on the age of the child. Following this advice helps ensure children get adequate calcium and vitamin D, while avoiding the added sugar present in flavored milk. And it’s not just the Center’s patients who benefit from these guidelines. Pont explained that the rules are same in his own home. “We include our kids in the process of making healthy choices, and while my youngest would love to always drink chocolate milk, he is also perfectly content to drink white milk most all of the time.”Full-Fat Dairy

The Center recommends that children drink regular whole milk before age 2. That’s because very young children need fat for brain development and they use energy at a higher rate than older people, Brauer noted in written comments she provided. Lower fat milk products are preferred for older children because milk contains saturated fat – a type of fat that promotes the build up of harmful deposits in arteries over time.

Brauer also stated she recommends plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt for most patients – because it contains less added sugar than other types. Plain yogurt has about 16 grams of naturally occurring lactose sugar per cup. Flavored yogurts can have double that much or more due to added sugar.

People are genetically wired to prefer sweet foods, Brauer explained, so the Center recommends that parents try to introduce non-sweet foods to babies first (like vegetables before fruits) and to limit sweet foods for very young children. But she discourages the use of foods containing artificial sweeteners for very young children because long-term research regarding their use in children is lacking and there is some research that these may actually increase cravings for sweet food.

So, when it comes to choosing low fat versus lower sugar, it seems that finding the right balance is key. A lot depends on the role dairy plays in your child’s diet and how the sugar and fat content stacks up against the other foods your child frequently eats. And of course, a healthy dose of common sense is needed. Which makes me think – we’ve done pretty well in the options we have offered our son regarding milk and yogurt – but I probably should have been paying more attention to all that Blue Bell ice cream!

Margaret Nicklas is a freelance health writer and journalist. Find her on Facebook or connect with her on Twitter @MargaretNicklas.

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HS Del Valle PhotoMy name is Benton Ferguson and I am a volunteer for HealthStart. I am 20 years old and have studied child development and music education at the University of North Texas. As an advocate for alternative education, I became interested in HealthStart and started volunteering at the beginning of 2014. Aside from blogging, I helping connect HealthStart with homeschool families and current classrooms to promote our curriculum and healthy message.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a HEY! classroom at the Del Valle Child Development Center.   This particular classroom of four year olds had just learned about how dirt affects their health. When asked about why dirt is important, the kids had quick responses like, “It’s where plants come from.” and “My food grows from dirt.” One child exclaimed “It’s where pizza comes from!” While that may not entirely be correct, all of the children understood that the food they eat depends on the ground beneath them.

I believe it is a rare sight to see children today questioning what they are eating and where it comes from; seeing these kids talk with one another about different kinds of dirt and soil was almost surreal.

The kids filled plastic bottles  with dirt from their backyard and water to demonstrate that “dirt” isn’t just one substance–the children saw crystals, insects, sand, and they realized how complex even the ground beneath us is. I was amazed at how well these kids retained the information taught to them, and the enthusiasm they showed was intense!

HS Water Bottles

After the kids got on with their daily activities, I had a chance to speak with the teacher and asked what she thought about the curriculum. She praised its engaging activities and real-world lessons, and she was also impressed with how strongly the kids remembered the information. I believe they will carry the knowledge they learned in this classroom with them forever and from it, be able to make healthy life choices.

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. We at HealthStart are very excited to dig into a delicious meal while giving thanks with our loved ones next week. While the Thanksgiving dinner table in America is typically filled with such foods as pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, and canned cranberries we’d love to share two of our favorite healthy alternatives with you!

Instead of pumpkin pie, why not try a Cinnamon Pumpkin Shake created by our intern Kelsey!

Blend the following:

½ Cup Unsweeted Vanilla Almond Milk (15 Calories, 1.25 grams of fat)
Whole Banana (90 Calories, 0.33 Grams of Fat)
2 Pitted Dates (40 Calories, 0.15 Grams of Fat)
1 Tbs Almond Butter (80 Calories, 6 Grams of Fat)
1 Tsp Vanilla (5 Calories, 0.0 Grams of Fat)
2 Tbs Organic Canned Pumpkin (20 Calories, 0.23 Grams of Fat)
2 Tsp Cinnamon (6 Calories, 0.14 Grams of Fat)
1 Cup Ice (0 Calories, 0 Grams of Fat)

A regular slice of pumpkin pie is 316 calories and 14.42 grams of fat largely derived from sugar, gluten, and butter.  There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to indulge once and awhile, but this shake alternative is 256 calories and only 8.1 grams of fat packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and a whole lot of delicious holiday flavor!

Instead of canned cranberries, why not try a quinoa and cranberry salad!

Find your favorite quinoa and cook according to your preference. While you’re waiting for the quinoa to cook, cube and boil a sweet potato until tender. When both the quinoa and sweet potatoes are soft, transfer to a baking dish and mix in two tablespoons of olive oil, two teaspoons of seasonings (parsley, pepper, garlic powder) and a handful of raw cranberries! This is a quick and easy dish filled with protein and nutrients that can take the place of canned cranberries that are often packed with high fructose corn syrup and other less than desirable food additives!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition that reminds all of us to be thankful for all that we have and will have in the future. Sometimes we forget that one of the things to be most grateful for is our health! This year we can thank our bodies by trying the these delicious and nutritious healthy alternatives! What other alternatives can you and your family members think of trying? Let us know!

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As we head into the final days of the Active Life/H-E-B “Its Time Texas” Community Challenge 2013, HealthStart is proud to have played a part in making “healthy the norm.”  The challenge invites communities’ all over Texas to showcase their commitment to healthy living through actions that range from blogs to dance. There are 507 communities, 34 mayors, 3,191 school activities, 246 organizations and at least 1,111,653 individuals “activated” in the cause! HealthStart is thrilled to be one of the participating organizations as it is our commitment to promote healthy living as well. Communities are arranged according to population size and everyone has multiple opportunities as a group or individual to get active and gain points for their city or town. One can give an online shout out on a community page about the challenge, organize an activity, take the wellness pledge, and for the greatest number of points one can create a large-scale community project. The large-scale project could be anything from a company-wide picnic of nutritious foods to an educational health fair. HealthStart has been and will be attending quite a few events in the community to spread the word about our organization and healthy lifestyle choices. We took the wellness pledge and shared a few photos of our students learning and doing healthy activities in the classroom. It has been exciting to participate again this year and observe what other organizations and communities have been up to! There is still time to get involved in this years Community Challenge, hurry and register here: http://hebcommunitychallenge.com/

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At HealthStart we frequently hear from parents about their interest in what healthy foods are in-season and where they can be found locally. The following foods you will be able to find at farmers markets, co-ops, & supermarkets in Austin right now!

UnknownBeets (November through February)

Beets are an excellent source of Vitamins A, B, and C, Potassium, Magnesium, Fiber, Iron, and Folic Acid.

They are important in the growth of new cells and they cleanse the blood stream.

You can juice beets or blend them into a smoothie, steam them, or chop them up and put them in a salad raw!

Broccoli (October through May)broccoli

Broccoli contains more Vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as an 8 oz glass of milk!

Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin K, which HealthStart teaches us is essential for healthy bones!

Eat broccoli steamed, raw, or in a stir-fry with tofu and other seasonal vegetables!

image001Grapefruit (October through April)

Grapefruit has very high levels of Vitamin C and has been known to lower cholesterol.

Grapefruit is packed with antioxidants and helps to repair DNA. Grapefruits health benefits are endless!

Juice grapefruit and drink it fresh or add to a salad for a tangy kick! It is commonly eaten raw with a knife and spoon as well.


Other nutritious foods in season:

Grapes, okra, oranges, peanuts, pears, pomegranates, tomatoes, watermelons, and more!

Where to find these foods locally:

Austin Open Air Market:
10000 Research Boulevard Austin, TX 78759
Sunday 10 AM – 2 PM

Barton Creek Farmers Market Location One:
The back of the Barton Creek Square Mall parking lot overlooking the city, at the intersection of Loop 1 (Mopac) and S. Capital of TX Highway (360 Loop).
Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM

Barton Creek Farmers Market Location Two:
The Highland Mall parking lot at 6001 Airport Blvd. Austin, TX 78752
Sunday 10 AM – 2 PM

Cedar Park Market:
11200 Lakeline Mall Dr. Cedar Park, TX 78613
Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM

Funkytonk Farmers Market:
6701 Burnet Rd. Austin, TX 78757
Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM

Hope Farmers Market:
East 5TH & Comal
Sunday 11 AM – 3 PM

Your local HEB: All over Austin!
Hours vary by location, www.heb.com for listings

 Fun Activities for Lifelong Learning:

Choose one of the fruits or vegetables, tell your children what nutrients are in them, and ask them to find it at a farmers market for you!

Plan a lunch around the broccoli you purchase at a farmers market on a Sunday.

Here is a recipe adapted from www.eatingwell.com for Broccoli and Cannellini Bean Soup!

14 Oz of Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Water
6 Cups of Broccoli Crowns
14 Oz of Cannellini Beans
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Ground White Pepper
¼ Cup of Nutritional Yeast
½ tsp of Agar Agar
1 tsp of Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Bring water and broth to a boil, add in broccoli crowns and cook until tender (about 6-8 minutes). Add in beans, salt, and ground pepper. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree (Use caution as the liquids will be hot). While in the blender add nutritional yeast, agar agar, garlic powder, and mustard. After pureed, return to a pot and heat until warm.

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Look, mom!  I fed my ENTIRE body today!

Feed Your Body Infographic.  All information pulled from HealthStart Foundation Curriculum.

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