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by T[iffany Houser||Tiffany Houser], Green Monkey Interactive


I was fortunate enough to have parents that made me take swim classes, dance lessons, and gymnastics during my pre-school years. Not only did theses activities enhance my physical and social skills, but I now realize they began my journey of having a love affair with physical fitness and movement.

iffany Houser

I make it a point to encourage parents that I know and meet to enroll their children in all three activities, both boys and girls, for many reasons.



First, I am a huge proponent of children taking swim lessons for safety reasons primarily. As a former lifeguard, seeing the terror on certain children's faces around water was painful knowing how much joy it brings into other children's lives or the terror I experienced when an unknowing little one would jump into the water with a smile and come above the water in panic.



The reason I feel strongly about dance lessons for children is that it brings out a lot of qualities that cannot be taught because they are learned through experience such as rhythm, creativity and performing in front of audiences. I believe dance not only challenging their bodies but it stimulates their minds by keeping track of the step counts, following the beat of the music and staying aware of their surroundings while moving their little bodies.



The performance aspect of dance brings out personalities and pride as they are not only taking lessons but also preparing to showcase what they learned in front of an audience of more than mom and dad. I'm sure that with television programs such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars is leading to more young adults taking dance lessons since these shows are breaking down the traditional stereotypes that used to be associated with the world of dancing.



iffany HouserHowever, I believe the ultimate activity for all children to experience is gymnastics. This is what truly developed me into an athlete and more so, built my confidence and eliminated fears. I was instantly good at most sports because of gymnastics which is why I gravitated naturally to also becoming a cheerleader and a track athlete. My gymnastics skills catapulted me into doing well in both these sports since I was willing to try anything even if it meant potential injury.



As my body is constantly changing and seems to remember old skills and picks up new skills, I am realizing the results that this movement trifecta had on me.



Getting involved in all three early in life allowed me to be coachable and learn in a group environment and be evaluated in a group and as an individual. I also benefited from meeting friends before I started kindergarten which gave me a sense of familiarity and security rather than being peeled off my parents on the first day of school.



Since I was fairly good at all three, I developed a good deal of independence and pride in myself where I began choosing what classes I wanted to take and routines I wanted to perform. Even though in my early childhood I was TERRIFIED to communicate in public or even order a meal directly from a waiter in a restaurant, I had no problem tumbling or tapping around in front of large audiences.



This led me to trying out for organized teams which brought out the competitive side in me. I believe this is what also made me a better academic student because I was used to performing at my best. I became a parent's dream because I fell in love with school in general. I never wanted to miss a day!



I refer to dance, swimming and gymnastics as activities in this blog post because I wanted to stress the benefits to parents without the association of what it means to involve children in sports. Even though each of the three are among the leading international sports, all three do possess the ability to give children a life set of skills both physically and mentally to use in almost every situation in life. This is why movement at a young age encourages and is a breeding ground for not only successful adults, but healthy, happy and balanced adults.



There are many studies proving that children who are involved in activities outside of school whether they are sports-related or not are better students and develop quality social skills. Other studies go to prove that children who are involved in physical activities whether it be organized sports or some sort of class or lesson in a physical discipline are more likely to live healthier and happier lifestyles because they learn at an early age the importance of the body's performance and because in certain cases they perform in public and are supported by peers and family leading to a fulfilling experience that they want to duplicate throughout life.



433 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: gymnastics, health, children, dance, swim-class

by Tiffany Houser, Green Monkey Interactive


"You are what you eat," says the old adage, but what about "you are what you are not eating?"



Calorie Restriction (CR) is the practice of eating fewer calories (5 - 40% less) while achieving adequate or optimal nutrition. Since the 1930's extensive scientific research has shown that calorie restriction improves health and extends the life span of nearly every species tested due to the reduction of stress on the digestive and immune systems.

Tiffany Houser

The theory is that your DNA recognizes that you body is working more efficiently and re-creates efficient cells. Cardiologist and Oprah's medical expert Dr. Mehmet Oz believes that calorie restriction can have longevity benefits. "We think we can actually reach life spans of 150 years with calorie restriction," Dr. Oz says. However, Dr. Oz says it is far too difficult for most people to restrict calories.



Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill, authors of The CR Way: Using the Secrets of Calorie Restriction for a Longer, Healthier Life, and Calorie Restriction Society Board Members, say CR can improve brain power, decrease inflammation, lower the risk of cancer, boost happiness and increase your life span.



Dr. Oz explains that calorie restriction sends a message to your body that you will not be able to reproduce because there is not enough food. The body is then sent a self-preservation message. "Preserve what you've got because you can't afford to waste it," he says.



According to the Calorie Restriction Society (CRS) the goal of Calorie Restriction is to achieve a longer and healthier life by eating fewer calories and consuming adequate vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.


Simply eating less may not improve health or extend lifespan - it can lead to malnutrition. Before worrying about how many calories you're eating, make sure that the foods in your diet provide sufficient nutrition to avoid malnutrition once you begin to restrict them.



In order to chart your progress, and to make sure that you are avoiding nutrient deficiencies and other hazards, the CRS recommends getting at least the minimal recommended blood tests done. You'll want to know these results before your calorie restriction begins, so that you'll have a baseline for comparison as you move into calorie restriction.



Once your diet consists primarily of nutrient-dense, calorie-sparse foods, you can safely begin to reduce your total calorie intake. Make sure, however, you have considered your current state of well-being and consult with your doctor to ensure this is the right plan for you.



The recommended time for the transition from your current diet to increasingly introducing more steps towards calorie restriction, according to Dr. Roy Lee Walford, a pioneer in the field of life extension, is a minimum of 6 to 9 months, but preferably 1 to 2 years.



Adult mice that were suddenly put on calorie restriction experienced shorter life spans, than mice that were slowly transitioned into to calorie restriction.



Even though most people on CR cut their calorie intake by 30%, they say it is not necessary to follow a drastic diet in order to reap the benefits of calorie restriction. They suggest that even cutting calories by 5 to 10 percent, can be a great starting point.



Here are some things to consider before moving forward with calorie restriction:



  • "Negative" appearance changes due to weight loss

  • Bone health challenges due to weight loss is often accompanied by reduced bone mass

  • Cold sensitivity due to reduced body mass

  • Children, adolescents, and young adults (under approx 21) should be advised against starting CR.

  • Loss of "cushioning" - discomfort sitting on hard surfaces, etc., due to reduced body fat.

  • Reduced energy reserves due to less body fat

  • Hunger (both psychological and physical effects), cravings, or food obsession

  • Menstrual irregularity due to dramatic weight loss. Women planning to get pregnant soon, should not begin CR until after having (and weaning) their baby.

  • Pregnancy - low body mass index is widely regarded as a risk factor in pregnancy.

  • Loss of strength and/or stamina due to loss of muscle mass from the weight loss

  • Decreased testosterone

  • Rapid weight loss (greater than 1 - 2 lbs/wk) - may do more harm than good

  • Slower wound healing - potential hazard in major accidents, violent attacks, surgeries, etc.


The CRS also mention how it can affect other lifestyle factors including social interaction such as going on CR without support from people in your inner circle or the separation it can create if you cannot participant in social gatherings or need a different meal during holidays and family dinners. CR can also be costly since most of the food is fresh and organic. CR represents a dramatic change in diet which can appeal to people who are attracted to the extreme or who may push the limits of safe or healthy CR practice.


The Calorie Restriction Society was formed to inject some scientific responsibility into the discussion of attempts to slow the aging process. As any scientifically responsible review of research in the field of gerontology, the study of the aging processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through later life, will quickly reveal, the only valid life-extension method that has any proven scientific backing behind it at all is Calorie Restriction (CR), from which "The Calorie Restriction Society" derives its name.



The CRS stresses that calorie restriction is not a weight loss program and should not be approached as a dieting tactic. This is lifestyle approach to adding years to your life by easing the work your body does to digest an over abundance of food and processed food which is a major stressor on your immune system.



So if you are what you are not eating then according to calories restriction you are promoting your health and longevity.



Check out this follow-up video from the 1991, 60 Minutes Report, Wine Rx, on the French Paradox, discussing Resveratrol and calorie restriction diets.



485 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: food, calories, lifespan, calorie-restriction, dr.oz, bone-health


Member since: Aug 26, 2009

Tips and articles on the athletic body and the athletic mind from Tiffany Houser of Green Monkey.

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