Thursday, September 20, 2012

JLSA Signature Project: Childhood Obesity Awareness

Taking Stock

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m on a constant quest toward personal improvement. I’m always thinking about being a better mom, a better attorney, a better wife, a better blogger--a better woman. I’ll get on kicks to try to improve things that might lead to a new-and-improved me--some fizzle, others seem to set in. One area that has caught my attention recently is in alignment with this year’s JLSA Signature Project, which is focused on improving awareness of the current childhood obesity epidemic.

Did you know that 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese? That ⅓ of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes? Did you know that food portions are 2 to 5 times bigger compared to 30 years ago, and that beverage portions have grown a whopping 68%? Today's children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day watching TV or movies, using cell phones, and playing on computers and video games. And only 1/3 of high school students get the recommended level of physical activity.

Expressed in 4 simple, colorful blocks, our Signature Project has challenged me to consider how I can improve my kids’ chances of not becoming a statistic in the obesity epidemic. You may have seen this graphic flashed up on the screen at our last General Meeting:

As expressed by this graphic, the most important steps we need to take to combat childhood obesity are relatively straightforward: eat 5 fruits and veggies a day, limit fast food, eat meals as a family, watch portion size, eat breakfast daily. We are encouraged to limit our kids’ screen time to 2 hours or less, and not allow TV in our kids’ bedrooms. Along these lines, we should try to focus our kids on getting at least an hour of physical activity every day. Finally, we should completely eliminate sugared beverages from our kids’ diets.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong! I imagine every family’s achilles heel will be different. For my family, it is a significant challenge to get our kids (and ourselves!) to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day. We try to eat a varied, rainbow-colored diet, but we are so busy in the evenings that it is easy to get into a rut of opening a can of green beans to go along with whatever the main course du jour happens to be: Voila! Veggies! And who really has time to “trick” their kids into eating nutrient-packed vegetables by cooking them into foods where they will be masked? Not this mom. I have had more arguments with my youngest daughter (a complete carb loader!) lately over simply trying the array of vegetables that we have started preparing at dinner time (it really is amazing how many good frozen veggies there are out there that can go conveniently from freezer to microwave to the dinner table quickly). It’s challenging, but it’s our burden to bear if we want our kids grow into healthy, active adults.

I look forward to hearing more about the Signature Project in the months to come, and I’m making a personal commitment to implementing the 5-2-1-0 model into our family "rule book." 

What are your challenges when it comes to nutrition and exercise in your family? Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share to help us encourage the children in our lives to be healthier? 

Comment below!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to Meetings!

September. Can you believe that it’s SEPTEMBER? My kids are back in school, and even though it’s still hot outside, every now and then I can almost feel a subtle hint of cooler temperatures on the way. Back to school for the kids also means back to JLSA monthly general meetings at the Bright Shawl, and our first general meeting will be next Tuesday, September 11, at 7pm. In case you’ve missed it, the theme for our first meeting is “Be True To Your School.” Prizes will be awarded for Best In-State Spirit, Best Out-of-State Spirit, and Best Overall Spirit, so everyone is encouraged to come in theme. This gives me the perfect excuse to head to the University of Texas Co-Op store over in the Quarry to pick out some fine burnt orange apparel. It’s so weird, because when I went to college at UT in the 90s (wow, that sounds like a long time ago), most of us wouldn’t have been caught dead in our team color. Burnt orange was reserved for a few service-oriented groups like the Silver Spurs or the cheerleaders. The rest of us wore our wrap skirts, Cole Haan clogs and Harold’s tops to the football games. Now, Texas fans wouldn't be caught dead in anything BUT something showing their school pride. Times have changed, I think, for the better.

Showing school spirit at last year's first general meeting. Gig 'em & hook 'em!

​Thinking about next week’s general meeting makes me think about general meetings, generally, and why JLSA members should attend meetings. Yes, I know it’s an obligation. Actives have to attend 5 meetings every year in order to fulfill our membership requirement. But there are lots of reasons to look forward to attending our monthly general meetings. Here are ten:

10. You get to reconnect with your friends and acquaintances in the real world—not on Facebook, not on Instagram, not on Twitter, not on Pinterest. You can actually talk to someone live and in person. I know, it’s retro. It’s crazy and old fashioned. And it's pretty great!

9. You learn something new about the League. Almost every time I go to a meeting, I learn something. It might be about something we have done out in the community, an upcoming opportunity that I was unaware of, an upcoming deadline for a membership requirement, an event I might like to attend, or something that’s happening in our city. Meetings are a great place to expand your horizons.

8. It’s an opportunity to meet new people. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have many opportunities to meet new people--I have my work friends, my family, and my social circles pretty well established. But the JLSA is definitely a place where there are always new faces, whether they are transfers from a different city who are new to San Antonio, new members, or even sustainers.

7. Meetings are fun. A meeting is like a big theme party, but with a purpose. When's the last time you were encouraged to wear your pajamas to a meeting?

Slumber party-inspired fun at the Bright Shawl.

6. You get to be a part of the process. This is your League, this is our League. If it’s a voting meeting, it’s important to be there and be heard.

5. You can sample tasty snacks and delicious wines. You can check out the art in the Gallery. And you can win prizes!

4. Being at the Bright Shawl is neat—I always think about the generations of interesting, motivated women that have met in that building. It’s inspiring to be a part of that tradition.

3. JLSA meetings are efficient and well organized. You know that the JLSA leadership respects your time and will do their best to make our meetings interesting, informative, entertaining, and brief.

2. Our meetings provide leadership opportunities, a public speaking forum for our members, and a platform for members to be publicly recognized for their important contributions. When you come to a meeting, you are demonstrating your support for our fellow leaders and members.

1. Finally, our meetings provide a wonderful monthly opportunity for everyone in the JLSA to get together--regardless of membership status, and regardless of placement.

See you at our first meeting!