Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes from Our Alaska Trip

We recently returned from a trip to Alaska to visit family. Here are a few pictures from our adventures!

Caleb's First Catch!

Driving in the Mountains

First Time for This Florida Boy to Play in the Snow!

Super Summer Beauty Giveaway!

Summer recreational activities can be a lot of fun, but too much time in the sun and water can make skin and hair especially difficult to care for. The following “triple threat” giveaway can help you get started in improving your summer beauty regimen. The giveaway includes the following three products:

Clearly Beautiful

Perfect to soothe tired eyes after a long day in the sun, this eye mask utilizes a pure plant collagen delivery system to nourish both the top layer of the skin and to penetrate deep under the surface to increase collagen production, cell renewal and total skin hydration. The all-natural eye mask acts as a protective layer while it encourages complete absorption of the mask’s rejuvenating liquids to alleviate wrinkles under the eyes.
Price: $10.00


This summer, full and thick lashes are in! LashFood Drama Mascara features the company’s exclusive Nano-Peptide Technology to encourage eyelash growth and thickening. The mascara provides volume and length to lashes for a dramatic finish while simultaneously transforming frail and brittle lashes into healthy and strong lashes with every stroke.
Price: $27.00

Le Baby

Whether headed to the beach or the pool, Le Baby hair gel is ideal to throw in the bag for some quick hair touch-ups. From taming those wild fly-aways to smoothing frizzies, Le Baby hair gel works on all hair types and is safe for babies and adults with sensitive skin. Whatever the hair type, Le Baby will make combing and styling a cinch. Le Baby keeps hairstyles in place, contains no harsh chemicals or sulfates, and never leaves hair sticky.
Price: $9.95


One lucky winner will receive all three of the products listed above -- a package valued at approximately $50! To enter, leave a comment on this post with your own personal favorite beauty tip for summer. Do you create hair highlights with lemon juice or moisturize a sunburn with aloe? Share a great tip for all of us! This first entry is mandatory to enter the contest.

You can earn optional, additional entries by:

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting on Twitter (@ParentingAuthor) and tweeting about this giveaway. You may tweet this giveaway twice a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (It’s easy to tweet this giveaway by using the Bookmark button at the bottom of this post. 1 entry per tweet.)

- Subscribing to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS and/or Kindle (see sign-up options on left sidebar). Leave a comment for each subscription method. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 3 entries)

- Following Susan Heim on Parenting through Google Friend Connect. Click on the “Follow” button on the left sidebar. Leave a comment. (1 entry)

- Putting a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog (the code is in the upper right-hand column of this site) and/or a text link on your blog roll. Post a comment with your blog’s URL. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- Posting this giveaway on your blog with a link to this page. Leave a comment with a direct link to the post. (3 entries; leave a separate comment for each)

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Wednesday, July 14, 2010, at midnight ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winners must respond within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. Contest is open only to US residents.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner, devon!

DISCLOSURE: No products or compensation were provided in exchange for this giveaway.

For a Delicious, All-Natural Snack, Try Nature’s Hand Granola!

I developed a fondness for granola when I was in college. I lived in a dormitory for two years and ate all my meals in the cafeteria. In addition to the dishes for the day, they placed certain items out at every meal for students to munch on. One of these snacks was a huge bowl of granola! I loved it and often ate it for breakfast or as a side dish at one of the other meals.

So, when I was contacted to review Nature’s Hand Granola, I didn’t hesitate. I was even more excited when I heard that their granola is available in many delicious flavors:

Original Recipe
Vanilla Almond
Raisin Hazelnut
Cranberry Apricot
Coconut Cashew
Wild Blueberry
Cinnamon Apple
Maple Pecan

Every one of them is scrumptious! The varieties with fruit have big chunks of dried fruit mixed in. And because Nature’s Hand Granola isn’t clumpy, it can be used for baking or as toppings. I sprinkled a bunch of granola on top of a pan of brownies before baking, and it was delicious!

All of the ingredients in Nature’s Hand Granola are natural. They DON’T add salt, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The granola is naturally sweetened with brown sugar and honey. I like to grab a handful when I just need a quick afternoon snack. It’s a much better choice than cookies or chips! And the one-pound bags are resealable, so any unused product stays fresh.

Nature’s Hand Granola is the official granola of Outward Bound, a non-profit organization that provides active learning expeditions to inspire character development, leadership and service in people of all backgrounds and ages. You can find out more about this organization at

So, where can you find wonderful Nature’s Hand Granola? Head over to to access their online store, locate a local retailer, and get nutritional information and recipes for breads, pies, cookies, muffins and more! You can also find Nature’s Hand Granola on Facebook and Twitter.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary samples of Nature’s Hand Granola to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Five Ways to Keep Your Children Safe on the Playground

Guest Post by Lindy Howard

A parent’s worst nightmare is to find their child has been hurt on a playground or to find that the child has vanished. The horrific thoughts that cross a parent’s mind, as well as the guilt that is felt afterward, can haunt a parent for a lifetime. Parents are a child’s first line of defense against accidents and predators.

There are some easy things to do to keep your children safe, sound, and happy, while still allowing them to enjoy their time at a playground:

Clear Line of Sight

Clear line of sight is sometimes overlooked in playgrounds, particularly those that are spread out over a large area. Parents lose sight of their children because the play sets are spread far apart or are divided by buildings or trees.

Parents should position themselves so that they can quickly scan for their children. Children could even be dressed in unique ways or in bright colors so that the parent can spot them easily, even in a crowd. By watching over the children, it is less likely for them to wander off. A parent can intervene if they see dangerous behavior occurring.

Checking the Equipment

Both public and backyard playgrounds should all have their equipment checked on a regular basis. If a parent spots rust, broken wood, rot, or other signs of neglect or abuse, they can stop their children from playing on those pieces of equipment.

If a parent’s untrained eye can spot a potential problem, then it should be brought to the park’s management. If it is a private playground, a parent can restrict access to the unsafe equipment until it is repaired or replaced.

Use the Buddy System

Playgrounds are always more fun with friends and are a great deal safer in the company of others. Children playing in groups are less likely to be targeted by predators. If one of the children in the group is injured or in potential danger, one of the other children can get help.

Some parents may want to team up with other moms and dads to keep a better eye on a group of children. Even in the backyard playground, the buddy system is safer.

Safe Words

Children should always be aware of who they should be comfortable speaking to. Whether or not parents are willing to admit it to themselves, predators and potential predators are all around. Parents should create a password that the children are familiar with and make sure the children understand that any adult who does not know the password is not safe to leave with.

Keep a First Aid Kit

First aid kits are essential for any parent to have and should be located in the car and in the house. First aid kits should include wraps, basic splints, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, peroxide, scissors, bee sting kits, and anything else that may come in handy for taking care of minor injuries. No one knows when or where a playground accident will happen, so it is better to always be prepared.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Celebrate the Release of “Madeline’s Great Adventures”!

I’ve written before about my love for Madeline, the petite Parisienne orphan! I loved this character as a little girl and still love reading Madeline books and watching Madeline DVDs. So, I was excited to learn that a brand-new DVD was released today by Shout Factory: Madeline’s Great Adventures!

This DVD is a collection of six wonderful episodes from the animated Madeline TV series. They include:

• Madeline and the Magic Carpet
• Madeline on Safari
• Madeline and the Lost Crown
• Madeline and the Gypsies
• Madeline and the Pirates
• Madeline and the Forty Thieves

As always, Madeline is joined on her adventures by her fun companions: Miss Clavel, her neighbor Pepito, her dog Genevieve, and her 11 schoolmates. With magic, pirates, and lots of adventures, boys and girls alike will be charmed by this terrific DVD. My twins and I love watching Madeline’s Great Adventures!

P.S. Click here for a Madeline coloring page to share with your child!

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this DVD to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

Tips for Getting Your Children to Embrace Reading This Summer!

Summertime is designed to help kids recharge their batteries after a long school year. However, it’s still important that children continue to read so they don’t forget all they’ve learned in class. But the last thing your child usually wants to hear on a sunny day is “Read a book!” So, how can you get your kids to incorporate some reading time into their summer activities? Here are some tried-and-true tricks:

Motivate them with rewards. Many libraries and bookstores have summer reading programs that encourage kids to read books in exchange for prizes. Or you can design your own incentive program to help your child earn a desired toy, snack or book.

Let them read what they want. If your child is intimidated by reading a full book, let him read a comic book, a coloring book (with words, of course), or a children’s magazine.

Pursue their passions. If your child loves trains, seek out fun books about them. If she’s into ballet, search for stories about ballerinas. Kids will read more when they’re interested in the subject.

Keep reading time short and sweet. Don’t expect your child to spend all afternoon reading when the great outdoors is beckoning. Schedule reading time for shorter periods of fifteen or twenty minutes each.

Read anywhere. Why not let the kids read on the beach or on a hammock in the yard? Let them read on the park bench before they head for the monkey bars.

Read together. My kids and I often alternate pages. I read one page and my “helper” will read the next one. This makes it a shared activity and qualifies as great “quality time” between parent and child.

Provide material that’s age-appropriate. If your beginning reader is getting frustrated, he may be trying to read a book that’s too difficult for him. One way to find books that are at your child’s reading level is through the HarperCollins “I Can Read!” book series. This series, which debuted in 1957, began with the release of a book about Little Bear (one of my all-time favorite characters) and now features more than 200 titles with many beloved characters, such as Biscuit, Little Critter, and Fancy Nancy. The books are classified into five reading levels for shared reading, beginning reading, reading with help, reading alone, and advanced reading. You can find a complete list of I Can Read! books and activities at

Have your child read a little bit every day so it becomes a habit. And make sure that your kids see you reading, too! When they see you enjoying a good book, they learn that reading can be fun.


I Can Read! Books:
HarperCollins Children’s Books:
TwitterMoms’ I Can Read! Discussion Page:

I Can Read! BooksBecome an I Can Read! Member

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an “I Can Read!” book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Plan for a Safe and Sober Drive Home from Your Fourth of July Celebration

To be honest, I hate going out to watch Fourth of July fireworks because I’m afraid of the drunk drivers on the road! Apparently, my fears are not unwarranted. In 2008, 1,179 people in other vehicles were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. A total of 491 of those motor vehicle traffic fatalities occurred during the Fourth of July holiday period (from July 3rd at 6 pm to July 7th at 5:59 am).

That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council are once again igniting their “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” campaign. What is “buzzed driving”? Buzzed drivers drink and drive, but do not consider themselves a hazard on the roadway because they have had “only a few” drinks. The NHTSA and the Ad Council want you to know: Buzzed driving IS drunk driving!

I’d like to encourage you to use this holiday to spread the word about the dangers of buzzed driving. Remind people that Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving. And remember that the best way to stay safe is to plan ahead. Here are four steps you can take to protect your loved ones on the Fourth of July.

1) Designate a sober driver before you leave for your Fourth of July events.

2) Be ready to take alternate transportation such as a bus or taxi.

3) Have the phone number of a taxi service stored in your phone before you leave for the party.

4) Call 9-1-1 if you see an impaired driver on the road.

To learn more about the impact buzzed driving can have on a life, please watch this important video about getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI):

Remember: Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving. Plan ahead and ask your loved ones to do the same.

DISCLOSURE: As a thank-you for posting this important information, Global Influence is entering me into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate.

Electrolux and Kelly Ripa Host “Splits for a Cause”: Fight Ovarian Cancer and Enter to Win Electrolux Appliances!

Electrolux has split up the refrigerator and freezer! Now you can purchase these appliances as stand-alones. What a smart idea! These new Counterparts products provide additional space for busy families (like mine!), better temperature control and are eco-friendly.

To celebrate, Electrolux has teamed up with celebrity mom Kelly Ripa to host the “Splits for a Cause” contest. What’s the cause (besides the launch of their new appliances)? They’ll be donating up to $750,000 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to help fight ovarian cancer. How can you help? Just make a virtual banana split!

Here’s how: Go to to build your ultimate banana split using virtual ingredients, such as chocolate sauce, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. For each "split" you build, Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. You can do this every day!

But this contest also benefits you … everyone who builds a banana split on the site will be automatically entered for a chance to win a daily prize -- $50 toward sweet summer treats -- and the grand prize: a new stand-alone refrigerator and freezer from Electrolux!

This contest ends on September 7, 2010, so head on over to today -- and every day -- for maximum entries. (I just did!)

DISCLOSURE: For posting about this campaign, MomSelect is entering me into a contest to win a stand-alone refrigerator and freezer from Electrolux.

Dog Trainer Robert Cabral’s 10 Tips on How to Keep Your Dog Calm and Safe During Fourth of July Celebrations

Fireworks are the most thrilling aspect of the Fourth of July for people while at the same time terrifying dogs. The danger signal fireworks send to dogs -- and the reaction it stimulates -- can be lethal. Nationwide, animal control services cite a 30 percent increase in lost dogs reported between July 4th-6th and an increase in chained dogs left outside that have inadvertently strangled themselves in reaction to loud fireworks.

“Loud sounds are a trigger for dogs to run or panic,” says Robert Cabral, a Malibu-based dog trainer/behaviorist known for his “Black Belt Dog Training” ( and for his national nonprofit organization Bound

Other reactions, Cabral adds, include dangerous stress levels and out-of-control panting. “The reality is that fireworks are part of the holiday celebration so it is incumbent for dog owners to know how to prepare and deal effectively with the situation.”

Here are Cabral’s 10 tips for how to help your dog cope with Fourth of July celebrations:

1. Do not leave your dog alone, especially outside during fireworks displays. If you absolutely must leave your dog, leave a TV or radio playing.

2. Do not coddle or hug your dog if your dog becomes scared or distressed -- this tends to make dogs think that their actions are justified. Be strong, talk in a normal tone and remain indifferent to the noise.

3. Do find an alternative to the noise, be it playing an instrument, listening to a news program or playing an entertaining DVD. This can serve as a positive distraction for your dog.

4. Do keep all windows and doors closed to keep the sound out.

5. Do not take your dog for a walk during fireworks celebrations.

6. Do feed your dog long before the time for fireworks.

7. Do give your dog a special toy to play with during fireworks.

8. Do make sure your dog keeps a normal schedule the day of the fireworks.

9. Do plan to keep your dog away from strange dogs or dogs that may excite him during the fireworks.

10. Do keep your dog away from unfamiliar people before and during the fireworks.

With proper planning, says Cabral, the Fourth of July can be a safe and fun holiday for pets and their owners. For more information, please visit

About Robert Cabral

Robert Cabral is a professional dog behaviorist and trainer with a background in Japanese Martial Arts. He applies many of those principles in his Black Belt Dog Training, a Zen-like approach to transform dogs with difficult behavior patterns. In addition, his passion is the nonprofit he founded called Bound Angels ( and, which is dedicated to giving a voice to animals, in particular those living in our nation’s shelters at risk of being killed: some for bad behavior, some just because they are no longer wanted. Robert has worked with countless shelter dogs, and as a result of his work, these animals have found loving homes. He also serves on the advisory board for K9 Connection in Los Angeles where he tests their dogs and speaks to at-risk teens and those in foster care about animal behavior.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Your Apple-Themed Recipe Could Win You a Trip to New York City Courtesy of Tree Top!

I love apples. I have many fond memories of growing up in Michigan and visiting the cider mills in the fall. We’d munch on caramel apples, pick our own apples from the trees, and drink up delicious cider! And there was nothing better than my mom’s apple pie!

Apples are often a favorite with kids, as they were with me, and my children are no exception. I put cups of applesauce in their lunches (forget the chips!), and we often munch on apple slices as an after-school snack. Besides apple pie, did you know that apples can be used in a wide variety of recipes? In fact, according to Tree Top -- a fruit-processing co-op owned by more than 1,000 apples and pear growers throughout the Pacific Northwest -- you can substitute applesauce in place of butter in some recipes and replace white sugar with apple juice. This can help trim fat and calories from your dishes, while adding in some great vitamin C and antioxidants that are found naturally in apples.

I went to and found some amazing recipes for food using apple products in the following categories: Appetizers, Beverages & Smoothies, Breads, Desserts & Snacks, Main Dishes, Salads, Salsa & Chutney, Sauces & Dressings, Side Dishes, Soups & Stews, and even Pet Treats! You’ve got to check out these recipes. They look absolutely scrumptious!

Tree Top makes a huge variety of products. My kids love their naturally sweetened apple sauce with lunch, and I’m a big fan of their Mango Peach trim™ juice! We poured some Tree Top 3 Apple Blend 100% fresh pressed juice into cups and popped them into the freezer for some tasty ice pops! I can’t wait to try some of the other terrific recipes on the Tree Top website.

You might also want to know that Tree Top is celebrating their 50th anniversary by encouraging people to eat more apples through their “America’s Secret Ingredient” contest, which started on June 15th. Contestants can send in their favorite apple-themed recipes for a chance to attend the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in New York City in October! The winner will have his or her recipe showcased and get to meet stars from the Food Network! Go to for more details and to enter the contest, which ends at 12:00 PM (noon ET) on July 26, 2010.

I also encourage you to visit the Tree Top sites listed below and prepare lots of apple-based recipes for your family. They’ll love them!

Tree Top website:
Tree Top “America’s Secret Ingredient” contest site:
Tree Top on Twitter:
Tree Top on Facebook:

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Tree Top and received products necessary to facilitate my candid review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Book Review: Glamour Girl from the Stars

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the children’s book, Glamour Girl from the Stars, written and illustrated by Carlton Scott. This book tells the story of an alien named PleeDee who wants to visit Earth. When she finds out that a Miss Universe Pageant is being held, she sees this as her opportunity! PleeDee longs to see all the latest fashions on Earth, but lands millions of years too soon -- during the time of dinosaurs! She quickly adjusts her timing and lands in Las Vegas in 2010. From there, she heads to Waikiki, China, Africa, Rome, and finally at the Miss Universe Pageant in Los Angeles. There, she is appalled that only women who wear a size zero have entered, and none of them are aliens. She decides that she’s perfectly happy being “three foot two with my size ten shoe.” Back on her home planet with her souvenirs from Earth, she learns the valuable lesson: “When little girls live up to their potential, wherever they are; They’ll shine brightly with confidence, no matter how near or far…”

Glamour Girl from the Stars teaches children, especially girls, that it’s okay to be “different.” PleeDee feels great about herself, even though she doesn’t look anything like the women in the Miss Universe Pageant. This book would be an excellent starting point for talking with girls about self-esteem, society’s perceptions of beauty, and people who look “different” in our eyes. It teaches a valuable lesson while being entertaining, too!


Author Carlton Scott has dedicated his life to working with children, both as a nurse and mental health worker. He has written and illustrated three picture books for children. As part of his commitment to supporting children’s health, he donates 50 percent of all profits from his books to children’s hospitals across the country. He created his newest book, Glamour Girl from the Stars, to foster self-acceptance in young girls.

You can find more information about Glamour Girl from the Stars and Carlton Scott’s other terrific books -- Little Big Wolf and Grin’s Message -- at

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of Carlton Scott’s books to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided.

New Law Protecting Kids from Big Tobacco

Guest Post by John R. Seffrin, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society and The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

As a father, I know how hard parents try to protect our kids from danger. I hope all parents join me today in celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over the tobacco industry. With 1,000 children becoming addicted every day and another 3,900 children picking up their first cigarette, this legislation is necessary to safeguard our kids from Big Tobacco’s predatory and deceptive marketing.

The law has already banned the manufacturing and distribution of candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes that were intended to entice kids to start smoking. Beginning this month, the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to minors will be prohibited by federal law and tobacco vending machines will be banned except in adult-only facilities. Additionally, we will see:

• larger, stronger warning labels on smokeless tobacco products
• a ban on the use of misleading descriptions such as “light” “mild” or “low-tar” in marketing and packaging cigarettes
• a ban on all tobacco-brand sponsorships of sports and cultural events
• a ban on virtually all free tobacco samples and giveaways of non-tobacco items, such as hats and T-shirts, with the purchase of tobacco
• a prohibition on the sale of cigarettes in packs of less than 20. This will eliminate so-called “kiddie packs” that make cigarettes more affordable and appealing to kids.

We expect that with effective implementation, the law will have a huge impact on ensuring that fewer kids start to smoke.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the American Cancer Society’s advocacy affiliate, and its volunteers were strong advocates for this legislation and are working to ensure that the law is implemented as strongly as possible. To find out more about this law and ACS CAN’s efforts, please visit and participate in our Twitter party… (details below).

Smoking-related diseases remain the most preventable cause of death in the world. This law will help to deter our kids from smoking. Thank you for being a part of the fight to protect our kids from Big Tobacco.


On June 29, the ACS CAN Twitter account will be hosting a Twitter chat where the organization will answer any questions on this legislation or impact of these tough new tobacco rules. The live Twitter chat will take place on June 29 from 2-3pm EST at @ACSCAN. Do you have a question about the new tobacco regulations? This Twitter chat will be the perfect place to get them answered.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm Home!

Dear Readers,
I hope you’ve been enjoying the guest posts that have been running on Susan Heim on Parenting for the past two weeks! I just returned from Alaska, where we were visiting my husband’s family and enjoying a little cool weather. Now I’m back in Florida, warming up again. I’ve also got plenty of product reviews and giveaways lined up to write now that I’ve returned, so please stay tuned for them. Meanwhile, if your kids love Zhu Zhu Pets, I hope you’ve entered the Kung Zhu giveaway, which will be running through June 30.

Happy parenting!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Talking to Your Overweight Teen About Weight Loss

Guest Post by Michael L. Bishop, M.B.A., Ph.D.
Executive Director, Wellspring

Studies show nearly 90% of overweight teens become obese adults, bringing a heightened risk of medical, social, emotional, and financial complications. If your child has a weight issue, you may have already noticed the emotional impact: lower self-esteem, little motivation, social isolation, perhaps behavioral issues in school or at home. Studies have shown that overweight children are less likely to attend or graduate from college, and more likely to occupy a lower socioeconomic status as adults.

As Executive Director at Wellspring, the leading provider of effective, scientifically based treatment for obese and overweight adolescents and young adults, I can personally attest to the level of resistance some parents feel when it comes to discussing weight issues with their child. Parents feel that their child will become defensive and that broaching the subject will only cause a divide in an already stressed relationship.

In these situations, it’s the role of the parent to make the right decision for the child’s health. We advise parents to sit down with their child and explain the decision:

“Honey, I care about you so much. Nothing is more important to me than your health, and that’s why we’ve made the decision to seek treatment for your weight.”

In nearly 100% of these cases, once the child begins treatment in an emotionally safe environment where they are not being judged based on their weight, the resistance or reluctance lessens and eventually disappears.

A parallel can be made with another serious health problem such as cancer. If your child had cancer, would getting treatment be up for discussion or would you insist they are treated with the most advanced methods available?

A recent study by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms that obesity can shorten life spans on average by up to 20 years, depending on factors such as gender, age and race. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control now lists obesity as paralleling smoking as the number 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. Certainly, if your child decided to light up a cigarette in your living room, this would not be up for discussion. Being obese while living in your home under your care should not be up for discussion either.

Parents today need to be proactive about their child’s health both at school and at home. You can teach your children healthy lifestyle skills utilizing these two basic concepts: 1) reduce your caloric intake and 2) increase your daily physical activity.

Wellspring recommends 10,000 steps each day using a pedometer to track your activity. Pedometers are inexpensive, and this is an easily calculated and measurable goal. Using a pedometer, the entire family can participate in many different sports and activities in order to reach your daily goal of 10,000 steps.

Activities can include a daily walk around the neighborhood after school or work, walking the dog in the morning, a family game of basketball or baseball, or even just throwing a ball back and forth in the front yard. Anything a family can do together that requires taking steps can be beneficial. The important thing is that activity is tracked and that 10,000 steps are completed each day, even when you don’t feel like it.

Parents can role model healthy lifestyles for their children by involving them with each step of the food preparation process. For example, parents can involve their children in planning healthy, well-balanced meals. Going to the grocery store with your child can be an educational opportunity if you ask your child to read the food labels and choose foods with the lowest level of calories and fat. Avoiding impulse buys and sticking to planned meals can role model self control and the importance of a low-calorie, low-fat lifestyle for your kids.

If simple changes like taking 10,000 steps per day or making healthier food choices are not resulting in noticeable improvement, you should consider more intensive, effective, scientifically based programs depending on degree of need: a weight loss camp for moderate need or weight loss academies for greater needs for changes. At these specialized programs, adolescents and teens learn how to control their weight in a supportive, nurturing atmosphere.

Dr. Bishop is Executive Director of Wellspring, the leading provider of effective, scientifically based treatment for obese and overweight adolescents and young adults. Mike is a licensed psychologist specializing in behavioral change who has lost approximately 100 lbs on the Wellspring Plan.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Workout in the Park!‏

Playgrounds are not just for kids, but also for those who are a “kid at heart.” Make the most of a calorie burn by having fun with the kids and getting a workout in! Your children will get a benefit by having fun with mom or dad and also by promoting to them that being fit is fun.

Tara Zimliki, founder of Tara’s Bootcamp, is no stranger to getting the whole family involved in her workouts. As a mom of two young daughters, she has perfected the art of making “fitness into funtime” with her children. Below are some of her favorite tips for those looking to maximize their time at the playground:

Simple Exercises for the Playground

Use the Monkey Bars for chin-ups or pull-ups, which will effectively tone your triceps, biceps, core and back.

The Swing Set is a perfect tool to use for stability and core exercises. Try a one-leg squat with one foot in the seat of the swing. Target your abs by sitting on the swing and leaning back about 45 degrees. Hold your legs straight out in front of you and cross them over one another in a “scissor” motion.

Park Benches Are Not Just for Sitting! Target your shoulders and triceps with a bench dip. Place your hands on the edge of the bench seat and your feet angled in front of you. Lower yourself off the bench with your hands until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle, and lift back up.

Become a Jungle-Gym Jock. While your kids play on the jungle gym, use it to strengthen your arms with a standing push-up. The farther back you stand from the gym, the harder the push-ups become.

How to Turn Your Stroller into a Personal Gym

Lunges and Squats are made more fun for kids by using their strollers for support or added resistance.

Running with a Stroller is no picnic, but Tara suggests ramping up your workout with intervals to make your routine go from boring to exciting for your kids.

About Tara Zimliki
Tara is a Certified Personal Trainer through The American Council on Exercise (ACE), and a Boot Camp Instructor. She has competed and trained with top athletes at the University of South Carolina where she was awarded a full cross-country scholarship. Tara has a B.A. from Rutgers University and specializes in fat loss and nutrition. She is passionate about helping people change both body and mind, believing positive results stem from positive attitudes. She helps clients maintain this attitude with fun, challenging and rewarding workouts.

Tara’s love of fitness started as a child when she began running at the young age of 7. She played numerous sports but running was her passion. Tara enjoyed it so much that she continued running right up until she had children, completing the New York Marathon 8 months pregnant and even ran 1 mile the day she gave birth to her first daughter and 3 miles the day she gave birth to her second daughter. Tara has completed 15 marathons and hundreds of races worldwide. In addition, she has won many 5Ks and placed top in many long distance runs. In 2008, Tara placed in the top 500 women for the NYC Marathon. Recently, she won the USATF New Balance Long Distance Grand Prix for women 34 & under for the 4th consecutive year. Tara’s practices what she preaches in all aspects of fitness and health and for this reason she is a trusted trainer that produces results. For more information, please visit