Total Health Questionnaire: Madeline Morales

Maddie is the FoodCorps fellow for Washington DC. She is excited to be supporting 13 fabulous service members in our nation’s capital to build upon the work being done to close the gaps between children, food, and healthy happy lives!

Q: What does Total Health mean to you?

Maddie Morales

Maddie Morales

A: Total Health means a lifestyle where I am happy and feel capable enough to do the things I want!

Q: What is your first health-related memory?
A: 
Jump Rope for Heart was probably the highlight of my grade school gym events. We had an assembly every year where we got to jump rope in the gym and learn fancy tricks!

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
A: My dad. He is an amazing role model of how to be truly strong both mentally and physically. He is supportive of everyone’s health and fitness, no matter what level. He has an amazing balance of fitness in his life and is always doing big things! Someday we are going to bike across the US!

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Sweet potatoes!

Q: If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: A focus on prevention and establishing healthy lifestyles!

Q: In your opinion, what is the most underrated way to improve health for individuals?
A: A balanced diet.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
A: Somewhere by the water and my parents.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: Making amazing friends and having a supportive network of people that I can surround myself with and lean on everyday.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: Audrey Hepburn, Michele Obama and my grandma.

Read more about Food Corps DC here.

American Heart Month is Here — How’s Yours?

Here’s an important question: How is your heart?

How about that of your significant other?  Your mom’s and your dad’s?  Your best friend’s?

February is American Heart Month, and considering heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States — causing one in four deaths each year — it’s a topic worth our attention.

Luckily, there’s plenty of great information available on heart health, including this episode of Total Health Radio:  “How’s Your Heart? Understanding Your Risk.”

Looking for more information on how to show your heart some love? Check out this piece on Five Easy Steps for Taking Care of Your Heart. Or this infographic illustrating five ways to be both sweet and healthy on Valentine’s Day.

And finally, if you are looking for ways to promote heart health in your own workplace or organization, healthfinder.gov’s American Heart Month toolkit may be just what you need.

Let’s take care of our hearts — not just on Valentine’s Day, but all year long.

You Too Can Have Healthy Meetings!

Panel discussion featuring, from left:  Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, Kelly Kearney, and Erin Meade.

Panel discussion featuring, from left: Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, Kelly Kearney, and Erin Meade.

On Monday, February 2nd, our friends at Kaiser Permanante’s Garfield Innovation Center hosted a great event focusing on delicious, healthy food. “A Taste of the Garfield Center” featured local Bay Area caterers to showcase menus that adhere to Kaiser Permanente’s “Healthy Picks” policy, along with a few presentations on healthy meeting and working practices.

I was certainly humbled to be on a panel with Kathy Gerwig, Marilyn Chow, both of Kaiser Permanente, and Kelly Kearney of Pacific Fine Foods (a favorite at the Garfield Center) – three incredible women. I was inspired that 100 Kaiser Permanente employees made time in their busy schedules to attend the event so that they could go back to the office with a better understanding of healthy picks to share with their teams. The audience included administrative assistants, lawyers, nurses, designers; many expressed trepidation about trying to change habits from their relatively junior positions. “After all,” said one assistant, “we aren’t all vice presidents.” Marilyn’s answer – sincere, honest, and inspiring – was simply, “We all lead from where we are.”

Kelly and the Pacific Fine Foods Team (showing off their VERY delicious kale chips)

Kelly and the Pacific Fine Foods Team

The Center for Total Health was one of the earliest adapters of the Healthy Picks guidelines, about a year ahead of schedule. As a team, we love helping our guests explore healthy AND delicious menus (ideally paired with some physical activity) for their meetings and events, and we are lucky to get to work with colleagues from inside and outside of the organization.

Now, I’m going to challenge YOU to make your next meeting healthier! Here are some tips and tools to help you start:

1. Get agreement for the concept of healthy meetings as a concept before introducing it for a specific meeting. Then hold people to it (especially the boss and other leaders).
2. Ease in! You don’t have to do a 180 degree change overnight. Try making healthy substitutions (lowfat yogurt, leaner meats, more fruits and vegetables) to start.
3. Healthy food can be tasty and fun – look for menu items with herbs and spices instead of sauces, and consider interactive options like a build your own salad bar to get people engaged in (and excited about) what they’re eating. Bonus: no one can complain about what’s in their salad!
4. If you’re ordering from a large chain, they are legally required to provide nutrition information on their menus. Use it! If you aren’t sure what is best, try consulting the USDA’s Healthy Plate guidelines or Kaiser Permanante’s own Healthy Picks guidelines. You might also like our Healthy Meetings Essentials toolkit, which has information about menus, activity, sustainability and more!

We’d love to hear more suggestions from you, and let us know if you’re working on making your meetings (or work environment) healthier!

It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine

Have you had the flu yet this season?  More importantly, have you received the flu vaccine?  If not, you might want to.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February sees a surprisingly high number of flu occurrences.  So while many people think flu season has long passed, the truth is the vaccine may yet keep you healthy.

This episode of Total Health Radio, produced with the CDC, shares more information on  the topic and addresses misunderstandings and excuses about the vaccine that keep so many folks from getting their flu shots.  Check it out, and spread the word to the people you care about.

 

A Q&A with FoodCorps DC

FoodCorps DC Service Sites

FoodCorps DC Service Sites

On Monday, the Center for Total Health was delighted to host a meeting for FoodCorps DC.

FoodCorps is a national nonprofit organization that has nearly 200 AmeriCorps leaders throughout the country who are connecting kids to real food so they can grow up healthy.

These service members help schools in communities with limited resources, where they educate kids on how to make smart choices around food and nutrition.  They also lead hands-on activities like gardening and cooking that foster skills and pride around healthy food.  They even help make it possible for nutritious meals from local farms to make it onto school lunch trays. FoodCorps recently expanded into Washington, D.C., where they work in partnership with OSSE and many of D.C.’s wonderful food organizations such as D.C. Greens and City Blossoms.

After Monday’s “supervisor summit” at the CTH, we asked FoodCorps DC Supervisor Maddie Morales to answer a few questions for us.

Q: What is the mission or goal of FoodCorps? 

A: Together with communities, FoodCorps serves to connect kids to healthy food in school.

Q: What are some of the FoodCorps programs in DC? 

A: FoodCorps works with community partners to place service members into DC schools. We have 13 service members serving in 17 schools across the city. Our service members have been placed at schools through our service sites which are DC Greens, City Blossoms, FreshFarm Markets, Capital Area Food Bank, Marie Reed Elementary, Washington Youth Garden, Metz Culinary, and SEED Public Charter.

Q: Where should someone go to see your work in action in DC?

A: One of our 17 partner schools! Cleveland Elementary, Eastern High School, Kimball Elementary, or Hart Middle School, to name a few.

Q: If FoodCorps could change one thing, what would it be? 

A: We would create a future in which all of our nation’s children––regardless of class, race, or geography––know what healthy food is, care where it comes from, and eat it every day.

Q: What attracted you to working with FoodCorps? 

A: I originally applied to be a service member, because I saw this as a position that aligned my goals and personal values with tangible work. After a year of service, I wanted to continue my journey with FoodCorps as a fellow to further support the amazing work this organization has been able to accomplish.

Q: How can others get involved? 

A: Apply to be a service member! Applications are open until March 31st. Spread the word or volunteer at a service site.

Q: Who won during today’s pre-meeting warm up (physically active video) games? 

The FoodCorps team took an active meeting break on Monday morning with the help of an X-Box game.

The FoodCorps team took an active meeting break on Monday morning with the help of a physically active video game.

A: Rebecca Lemos. That girl has a mean uppercut punch. (Sorry Sam.)

Q: What healthy strategies does FoodCorps employ for its employees? 

A: FoodCorps supports an environment of wellness for employees. Through access to health care, support for eating healthy and reminders to take personal time, I know that my health is a priority for the entire organization. Also, potlucks and sharing delicious, healthy food is huge around here.

Q: Besides Kaiser Permanente, what other organizations does FoodCorps partner with to succeed? 

A: We are grateful to have support from a plethora of generous organizations, foundations and individuals who think kids deserve the chance to grow up healthy and happy. Take a look at our funders’ page for a complete list.

Q: What is your goal or personal mission at FoodCorps? What do you enjoy most? 

A: As a fellow with FoodCorps, I hope to support our service members and promote the amazing work being done in DC to support healthy lives for our students. I hope my passion for improving the food environment for children and families in DC is motivational to the service member cohort and our larger community! I most enjoy working alongside fantastic and dedicated people already doing this work and learning from the strong foundation that they have created. I also have a personal mission of learning how to cook like all of my colleagues…they are amazing!

You can read more about FoodCorps on their blog and follow their work on Twitter.

Learn more about Keith Montgomery and Alice Patty through their answers to our Total Health Questionnaire.

For the Teen in Your Life — Listen!

Did you know that every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner?  The startling truth is that one in three adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. These are sobering statistics — especially if there is a teenager in your life that you care about.

Yes, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  We all owe it to the teens we love to listen — and share — this eye-opening episode of Total Health Radio, “Dating Violence:  Is Your Teen at Risk?”

In this show, Alexa Sueda, MD, talks about what teen dating violence looks like and some of the warning signs parents and friends should be watchful for. And Nancy Schwartzman, the inventor of the groundbreaking and award-winning Circle of 6 mobile app, talks about ways that young women can both prevent and cope with sexual abuse.


For more on this important topic, you can follow the conversation all month on Twitter via hashtag #teenDVmonth.

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Total Health Questionnaire: Alice Patty

Alice Patty is a senior program manager for Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit team. Included in her portfolio is management of the Thriving Schools program in the Mid-Atlantic Region. 

Alice Patty

Alice Patty

Q: What does Total Health mean to you?
A: Support for the body, mind, spirit and community.

Q: What’s your first health-related memory?
A: Breaking my arm on the swing set and having it set at the ER.

Q: Which person, living or dead, is your health hero or role model?
A: Probably my husband. We support each other in healthy eating and active living. Whenever I need a boost of confidence or encouragement he is there for me.

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: 
Favorite meal is salmon with asparagus.

Q: What do you value most in your work? What inspires you to continue?
A: The ability to help people. The people I work with are constantly inspiring me to do more and grow as an individual.

Q:  If you could change one thing in health care, what would it be?
A: Access for everyone to prevention services. Dietitians, personal trainers and life coaches as a covered benefit.

Q: Where would you most like to live?
A: Paris.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
A: Working in the field of obesity prevention for over a decade. I have seen a lot of changes in the way we address and prevent obesity. I am proud to have contributed to this field.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick?
A: Margaret Thatcher, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth I.

Three Ways to Improve Digital Health for the Underserved

“Nothing is more important than your health.  Not money, not anything.  Without your health you can’t do anything.  Emotionally, socially, at work; everything goes with health.…”   – Focus group participant.

“Nothing is more important than your health.  Not money, not anything.  Without your health you can’t do anything.  Emotionally, socially, at work; everything goes with health.…” – Focus group participant.

A new report from Oakland-based non-profit ZeroDivide reveals three ways in which low income women of color use digital technology to access health care for themselves and their families, as well as how they would like to use it in the future.

To determine the current use and usability of consumer-facing electronic health tools (“eHealth”) by low-income communities and communities of color, and to identify opportunities to improve the use of eHealth to address persistent health disparities in these target communities, ZeroDivide held six focus groups with over 60 diverse women in four American cities during June 2014.

In spite of a revolution in new health technologies, advancements that economically and socially privileged populations enjoy, however, have in many instances eluded underserved populations and underserved women in particular.

Through these discussions, participants shared their perceived value of eHealth tools, as well as challenges they face to eHealth adoption.

“The translation of health on the websites are atrocious, they are terrible,” one participant said. Another remarked, “You have to go through so many phases just to get to where you’re trying to go, and it’s like, I have to remember this too? My Mom ends up being more confused.”

The report offers three policy recommendations.

  1. Improve the digital and eHealth literacy of underserved consumers and safety net providers and outreach to these populations;
  2. Support eHealth tools for underserved populations that feature user-centered design and design that enhances communication with providers; and
  3. Support technology capacity building for safety net providers to strengthen the eHealth equity infrastructure.

Read the full report here.

Total Health Includes CPR Training

Today, the Center for Total Health team renewed our CPR certification. Most people will never have to preform CPR, but it’s an important skill to have. According the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed. Add to that the fact that about 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, and you can see why we should all be trained – the life you have to save may well be that of a loved one.

CTH team, recertified

CTH team, recertified

Doubt that CPR can save a life, or that your loved ones will ever need it? Check out this story about a triathlete whose life was saved by CPR during a road race.

If you aren’t CPR certified, or you don’t feel confident that you would know what to do in an emergency, you can find a course here.

How Food Affects Your Mood: What You Need to Know

Many of us resolved on January 1 to make some changes to our eating in an effort to improve our physical health.  But are we familiar with what effect those changes may have on our moods?

The latest episode of Total Health Radio explores this — how what we eat can affect our brain chemistry and therefore our emotions.  Learn tips for increasing dopamine and serotonin and how to stave off crashing after too many refined carbohydrates.  It’s a great listen — check it out.

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