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The RD Chaperones a Trip to Six Flags Great Adventure

One parent tackles the theme park excess with health and fun!

For the last few years, the kids who are in Holmdel schools choirs take a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure.  Every year, it occurs after Memorial Day and I have never been able to "chaperone” because it coincided with a sports medicine conference I attend each year.  However, this year – it did not overlap and my daughter asked me to please volunteer.  Okay, I haven’t been there is over 20 years…but I know one thing didn’t change – the amount of junk food and high calorie options bombarding everyone in the park.

A colleague gave me his company’s S2H pedometer and I figured I could at track my physical activity and see if I could find something healthy to eat.  I also brought a collapsible water bottle that kept getting filled up @ the water fountains – because at $3+ for bottled water, my usual consumption would’ve been quite expensive.

We were deluged with branding and messaging from Coca Cola and M&Ms – after all, even the sky ride cars were painted to resemble M&M candies.  At one point, my daughter thought that since the vending machine was out of water, that I would say “yes” to a soda (after she had one for lunch), but I was firm on making sure it was water only.

I read on the map that some restaurants had salads – but where we ended up eating, the little menagerie of eateries didn’t have any greens.  So, I walked a little distance to the Panda Express – ordered a plate of mixed vegetables and steamed rice and met up with girls who shared platters of fried delights from Johnny Rockets: chicken fingers, French fries and fried onion rings.  Perhaps you think I should “live a little” and conceded to some fried lunch as well.

Here’s the secret mindset – I already spied the Dippin Dots around the park – which are among my favorite ice cream indulgences – so I committed to a healthier lunch option, so I could eat the ice cream without one ounce of guilt.  At one point, there were announcements that due to approaching bad weather – some rides were temporarily shut down. This meant that in lieu of zig zagging across the park via the sky ride – we had to use our own two feet.

The great news is that my pedometer read 10,000 steps by the time we got back to the buses – which meant I walked ~ 5 miles.  I had a wonderful time with my daughter and her friends and didn’t have to make any excuses the next day for poor food choices and lack of physical activity.  This is what being healthy is all about – making choices.

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Felicia Stoler June 04, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Thanks BobDee. Actually, we have not been able to change the fact that we will all die of one thing or another. The real concern is whether or not we speed up that process and cause illness, disease and early death due to our poor food choices and choose NOT to be physically active on a regular basis. Bloomberg was ahead of the curve with labeling calories in restaurants, fat, and sodium levels. At least if the information is provided - consumers have numbers to compare. NYC is plagued by obesity and its comorbidities: hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease - especially in its poorer neighborhoods. It costs the city, the state and even our federal government (your tax dollars) for these individuals health care. By the way, I have met very few vegans who are slim or eat well. I agree with you about taking it to the extreme and "doing it all yourself" - the majority of us do not. This is why I do not say all foods must be organic.
Josh Rockson July 05, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Felicia- What do you think of the "Paleo" Diets.. Only eating what was around during the time of the Cave Men?
Felicia Stoler July 05, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Hi Josh, You have asked a loaded question. I am an advocate of eating foods closer to the way they are found in nature (& eating closer to the earth). Remember, in the days of the Cave Men, there was seldom heat for cooking food, food safety & sanitation did not exist, humans did not live as long as they do now.... For whatever it's worth, the science of nutrition really started to evolve in last century once vitamins, minerals and macronutrients were studied... this included correlations between "deficiencies" of nutrients and diseases. I did write an article last summer based upon the findings of an article by US News & World Report http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/06/07/ranked-best-and-worst-diets Science and evidence based dietary strategies are more credible than anecdotal, fad or celebrity-touted programs. I strongly encourage people to make small changes to their dietary intake and physical activity levels, so that the healthy choice becomes a way of life - not something one "goes on and off". Remember, your health outcome is a result of the accumulation of lifestyle habits & behaviors. Thanks for the question. Want a good book on how to eat - try mine - Living Skinny in Fat Genes - the Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great... I debunk plenty of food myths and misinformation!
JosephGhabourLaw July 05, 2012 at 01:41 PM
The bottom line health issue facing all of us, along with diet, is exercise. Suburban NJ often lacks the basics -- a sidewalk or path off the road to walk/bike (not that sidewalk cycling is advised). Getting 20 min of exercise a day, the recommended, minimum, isn't easy if you can't even walk. You'll find off street paths for cycling and walking in the suburbs of Kansas, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania ,Virginia, etc. In NJ, particularly in Monmouth county, such paths are a rarity. People drive to county parks, minutes from their homes, to walk/bike! Aside from boosting property values, getting off street paths is a serious public health issue in NJ. Diet is important, but safe, free, exercise is just as vital. The public safety plague on our roads -- unsafe driving, cycling, and walking -- makes matters worse by directly putting lives on the line. (Please, never, ever, bicycle against traffic, or go out at night on food/bike without a light for visibility). http://www.livestrong.com/article/261433-how-to-lose-weight-with-20-minutes-a-day/
Felicia Stoler July 05, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Joseph, great points... however, Monmouth County has some amazing county and state parks within close reach. There is the Henry Hudson trail which spans from Freehold to the Highlands. Suburban planning even 50 years ago did not include sidewalks in many residential communities. Many towns and cities are now looking into creating more bike and pedestrian lanes.... The American College of Sports Medicine will assist communities with making improvements in their "built" environment: http://americanfitnessindex.org/guide.htm The recommendation for daily physical activity is at least 30 minutes a day - with 60 minutes being better. It can include exercise at or in home...or take extra time to walk in a store or shopping center.

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