Friday, 24 February 2012

Leaping into March

Can you believe it’s almost March? I thought Spring might be right around the corner, too, but Mr. Winter decided to blow through one last (I hope) blast of snow and cold this week. It’s kind of put a bit of a kink in my training schedule, since I’d started running outside again. I guess it’s back to the gym I go.

Because I can’t just STOP practicing.

In health class this month, I learned about how exercise and eating right is good for my heart AND my brain. It’s also key for my training.

Coach is always talking about the importance of a balanced diet, and making sure we don’t cut calories, but this week, my health teacher made things really clear for us.

The best news is that I get to eat between 500 and 1500 MORE calories than some of friends who aren’t as active. Healthy calories, of course.

Calories are turned into energy, which is the fuel that keeps me running. Like when Grandpa fills his tractor with the best kind of fuel, the food choices I make determine how much energy I’ll have for training.

The registered dietician at the school recommends we follow Canada’s Food Guide, a pyramid of food choices that includes: good carbohydrates like whole grains; fruits, and vegetables; lean protein such as low-fat meats, milk and poultry; and healthy fats such as salmon, avocados, nuts and canola oil.

I’m already eating all of that!

Now I just have to figure out how to eat more. Three balanced meals and four healthy snacks. Every day. Now that’s something to get excited about!

Gotta jet.

-       - Chase Superman Duffy

PS – Did you know it’s a Leap Year? I never really understood why we have an extra day every four years. My Science teacher explained it – the earth doesn’t orbit the sun in exactly 365 years…so that additional day realigns the calendar year so it’s in sync with the astrological or seasonal year. Cool, right?

Friday, 17 February 2012

If I were a zombie, I'd rather eat your brains

I know Valentine’s Day was on Tuesday, but I had to show you the funny cards Sophie gave out. Kind of fitting since we’re learning about “brains” in health class, don’t you think?

Turns out, my brain should be in pretty good shape – maybe even too good for zombies!

Teach says there’s three key components to brain health: learn new skills; exercise your heart, and eat a brain-healthy diet.

The first part is easy. Every day I apply myself at school, I’m learning something new, and making my brain work. Use it or lose it, Grandpa says – he’s always exercising his brain by problem solving, trying new things, or well, beating me at chess. Good thing I’m awesome at checkers!

Exercising my heart? No problem! I train all the time for the track team. Coach says 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise three times a week gets your oxygen flowing to your brain and keeps it active. My brain must be like a jumping jelly bean.

And of course, I know all about proper nutrition. In fact, I learned that some of the same foods that are good for your heart – like salmon, blueberries, and canola oil – are also good for your brain.

Same goes for foods high in Omega 3 and Vitamin D. Eggs and avocados, for instance, contain nutrients that improve your memory. Whole grains and broccoli have lots of vitamins and fiber to improve blood flow. And dark chocolate – yes, more chocolate! – improves your concentration and focus.

Huh… Sophie gave everyone in class cookies made with real dark chocolate. Maybe she IS a zombie after all.

Gotta jet!

-       Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 10 February 2012

February's all about the heart

Well, the weather may make it seem like spring is just around the corner, but it’s definitely February. Know how I can tell? There are hearts everywhere.

It’s enough to make me want to throw up. Pink hearts. Red hearts. Chocolate hearts…well, I guess those wouldn’t be so bad. Dude, there’s even hearts in my classroom.

Healthy hearts, that is.

In celebration of National Heart Month, our teachers have been talking about nutrition – and the foods that enhance your heart’s health. The registered dietician gave us a list of five, but I didn’t even bother telling my Mom about them. I have a sneaking suspicion she already knows.

Blueberries topped the list for their Vitamin C and fiber content. Mom sprinkles them on our salads or sometimes on my cereal. Teach says they’re available all year round, but we mostly buy them in the summer.

Next up, fatty fish like salmon. I don’t mind fish, which is good since salmon especially is high in omega-3 fatty acids, the kind of fat that’s good for your heart. We’ve got stockpiles of salmon in the deep freeze – Dad and his best friend take a trip to BC every year and catch their limit.

Of course, I should have known oatmeal would make the list. Grandma calls it roughage – and we eat a lot of it. The dietician said a diet high in oats may reduce the risk of heart disease. Sometimes mom even uses oatmeal in her meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs.

And then there’s the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom – the mighty spinach. It’s high in iron, and keeps you strong. No wonder Popeye loved it so much. Mom tries to sneak it into my salads…one day I should tell her I don’t mind the taste. Ha ha.

Last on the list? You guessed it. Canola. Canola oil is high in healthy unsaturated fats, is free of cholesterol and has the lowest saturated fat of any common edible oil. I felt pretty proud talking about Grandpa’s farm with my teacher. No surprise we eat plenty of canola at home – most times mom uses oil instead of a hard fat like butter or lard in her baking. I can’t taste the difference.

Bet you noticed chocolate isn’t on the list – and Valentine’s Day (gag) is right around the corner. Don’t worry, you can still have some. Just look for chocolate that’s made with 100% cacao beans, like the chocolate nibs Mom buys from the health food store. She sprinkles them on her cereal sometimes, but uh, I don’t quite get it. They taste bitter to me. What’s the point of chocolate if it doesn’t melt in your mouth? Dad says it’s an acquired taste.

Anyway…I gotta jet. The Alberta Winter Games are on from February 9-12. Coach says it’s important to catch as many events as we can because the athletes need our support. I know I like it when people come to my track and field events. You can check the schedule at Maybe I’ll see you there.

-       - Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 3 February 2012

A super duper Superbowl

The biggest US football game of the year is on Sunday, and I can’t wait to hang out with Grandpa and Dad to cheer on our favourite teams and gobble up Grandma’s delicious Superbowl snacks. least I hope they’re still delicious.

Since Grandpa was diagnosed with diabetes, Grandma’s recipes have gone through a massive overhaul.  She says I won’t even taste the difference, but I’m not so sure. I’m kind of worried she’s going to replace my potato chips with carrot sticks. I don’t mind vegetables every other day of the week but messing with Superbowl tradition might be taking it a bit too far. Don't you think?

Mom told me not to worry, though. February is heart health month and there’s tons of healthy recipes online. Mom says even if Grandma does switch out my Lay’s with celery stalks, she’ll make a yummy hummus dip to go with them. And (I pretended not to listen to this part…) I’ll be well on my way to maybe avoiding a diabetes diagnosis when I get to Grandpa’s age.

I guess that doesn’t sound so bad.

Gotta jet!

And – GO GIANTS! (tee hee)

- Chase Superman Duffy