The Race Goes to the Driven, Not the Swift

By: Sarah Simonelli, RN
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

Sarah Simonelli Mara

     This year will mark my 6th consecutive year running the Boston Marathon and my 2nd year running with the Music Drives Us Marathon Team.  It will also be my 8th Marathon overall. I am honored to be part of a wonderful foundation that helps put music programs and instruments back into some of our local communities and impoverished school systems. As a busy mother of four children, working two jobs and running a business, there is always one question I am most often asked about my running. “Where do I find the time”? It’s a great question. The answer is really very simple.

     I was fortunate enough to figure out early on in my quest for a healthy lifestyle, that time management and commitment would play an equal role in my success of balancing work, family, business and my love of running. One of the most common excuses that prevent most people from working out is simply they “don’t have the time”. Let’s put time into perspective. If you had a dollar and someone asked you for two cents, would you give it to them? Of course you would. Do you realize 30 minutes is only 2% of your day? Would you devote just 2% of your day breaking a sweat if you could improve your overall health? Exercise is known to increase your energy level, work productivity, as well as improving your balance, strength and coordination. Exercise also helps you sleep better, look younger, decreases risk of disease, reduces depression, and improves bone density. The list goes on! I can assure you, we all have 30 minutes to spare. Give yourself the two cents. Your body will thank you for it.

     Secondly, commitment is crucial to any exercise routine. Setting small goals will help you stay focused on achieving them. I would never advise someone to start out with lofty expectations on their fitness journey. Running a marathon isn’t for everyone, especially for those who are just beginning. Why not make a commitment to start out walking briskly for 30 minutes each day and build from there. You can always incorporate more time as your endurance improves. Consequently as you feel stronger, you can incorporate brisk walking combined with a few interchangeable minutes of jogging.  The plan is simply to make a goal, stick to it and achieve it. As you reach your goal, make the next one bigger and keep building.

     As spring race season closes in, consider signing up for a for a 5k race.  They are slightly over three miles long which makes them perfect to start your fitness goals. Also consider getting your friends or family involved. Additionally, most 5k races benefit a cause you may feel good about supporting too. In my racing experience, people who join races get just as much inspiration by watching and encouraging fellow participants to cross the finish line. We all start somewhere and most of us join races for the same fundamental reason, to reach a goal!

     As this year’s Boston Marathon approaches in April, I am in full training mode with the rest of my Music Drives Us teammates. The cold weather and endless barrage of snowy days has been a challenge to log the miles in preparation for the big day. Despite my hectic schedule, it is my goal to stay on track and make my children proud as I cross the finish line on Marathon Monday. Stay focused my friends, and remember your body achieves what the mind believes. Anything is possible!

 “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse“- Rudyard Kipling


Physical Activity For Teens


By: Evan Woodford, Community HealthCorps
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

Did you know that the recommended amount of physical activity for teens is 60 minutes a day, for 7 days a week? While that may seem like a lot, but it can actually be very manageable. That is because physical activity is simply defined as “movement of the body that uses energy.” Therefore, it is not limited to traditional sports or the activities that come to mind when you hear the word “exercise”. Since those 60 minutes a day can be broken up into increments as short as 10 minutes at a time, suddenly it may not seem all that overwhelming. Anything that gets you up and using your body can be counted, as long as it is of a moderate intensity. But how can we tell if something is a “moderate-intensity” activity? Activity at this level will cause you to feel an elevated heart rate and increased breathing, but it would not make it any harder to talk. In contrast, a low-intensity activity will not require much effort or raise your heart rate or breathing, while a vigorous activity would cause you to breathe so hard it becomes difficult to talk.

If you were to explore the weekly recommendations for teens, you would soon discover that there are two categories of physical activity- either muscle strengthening or bone strengthening. Muscle strengthening includes activities such as pushups or resistance training, while activities like running and basketball can also count as bone strengthening because they promote bone growth. Specifically, the recommendation for teens is that they get three days of each type of activity in per week.

Just as a sort of reference, know that over the course of an hour sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games, you will burn 60 calories. On the other hand, jogging for an hour will burn about 400 calories. These numbers will not be the same for each person because everyone has different bodies, but these numbers are good averages. These are the calories burned per hour of some physical activities you may not have thought about:

Cleaning the house- 207 calories

Playing drums- 236 calories

Mowing the lawn- 325 calories

Cooking or preparing food- 150 calories

Dancing- 350 calories

Fishing- 236 calories

Gardening- 295 calories

Hiking- 350 calories

Skateboarding- 295 calories

Walking- 210 calories

The important thing to remember is that getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity does not have to be an insurmountable task. Making small changes to daily life, such as walking instead of driving or taking the bus or using stairs instead of elevators, can begin to make positive differences in the way you feel.

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Diet


By: Royletta Romain, MEd, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian, Dietary Supervisor

Elder Service Plan of Harbor Health Services, Inc.

  • Increase your fiber intake, up to 40 grams/day! (Use very high fiber cereal like All Bran Buds or Fiber One, whole grain bread, beans.)
  • Use low fat/no fat milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Add a Dark Green Leafy Vegetable and a Slice of Tomato to Your Sandwich
  • Use Hummus instead of Mayonnaise
  • Eat Breakfast (try Fiber One, fat free milk and blueberries)
  • Buy plain, fat-free yogurt and Add Fresh Fruit
  • Drink More Water
  • Drink Less Soda and Juice
  • Try Natural Peanut Butter with no added sugar or other fats
  • Read Food Labels
  • Eliminate Processed Food for an Entire Day

Hints for Cutting Back on Fats from Meat!


By Evan Woodford

Community HealthCorps Member

Meats, including beef, pork, and chicken, can be a great source of protein in your diet. Unfortunately, they can also be responsible for a lot of the saturated fat and cholesterol to our diets as well. Fortunately, there is a solution. The way we go about preparing the meat can greatly reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol consumed when eating them. Take a look at some easy ways we can make changes:

  • Trim excess fat from the meat before cooking
  • Remove the skin from chicken before baking
  • Bake, grill, roast or broil meats instead of frying them
  • Avoid breading, which can trap fats during cooking
  • Skip the sauces or gravies
  • Carefully drain fat during the cooking process
  • Eat more vitamin C to promote the absorption of iron from non-meat foods such as nuts, eliminating the need for iron from high-fat meats

Our choices of the types of meat we eat can also make a difference:

  • Each fish and nuts more often instead of meats
  • Choose lean cuts of meat such as sirloin instead of ground beef, fatty cuts or organ meat
  • Choose lean deli meats and avoid salami, bologna, and pepperoni

There are a lot of different recommendations to reduce your fat intake, but it is important to know that you do not need to incorporate all of these in order to be eating healthier! While this list of suggestions may look overwhelming, it just gives you more options to cut back on fats. By adopting even a single change, you will already be on your way to a healthier you!

Learn more at:

Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle: National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month

By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

March marks not only the beginning of spring, but a time of awakening for individuals to spring into action and embrace National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus is to encourage everyone to consume fewer calories, make more informed choices about the food they eat, and get daily exercise to maintain and achieve a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

So what should we consider when making food and beverage choices? As part of the National Nutrition Month® campaign, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends asking:

  • What am I eating and drinking?
  • How much am I eating and drinking?
  • How should I prepare what I am eating and drinking?

When we think about what we are eating and drinking, we find that certain dietary patterns have a moderate to strong link with lower risks of obesity and other chronic diseases (especially cardiovascular disease, hypertension, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes). So what do these dietary patterns look like? Coincidentally, the preliminary 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have just been released. In a statement put out by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee they note:

The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meatsiii; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

And while this pattern appears specific, the good news is people do not need to completely cut out any one food group and can be flexible with how they achieve this healthy dietary pattern. As practitioners, we should tailor these patterns to individual health needs, cultural practices and dietary preferences.

Thinking about how much we eat or drink is also a good practice. Often we serve ourselves large portions, not taking into account how hungry we are. And because as a population we tend to be bad at leaving food on our plate, we end up eating more calories than we need. With this I think it is important to add the question “Why am I eating?” Often we eat when we are bored, tired, happy, or sad. These are not appropriate reasons to be snacking on something. The majority of the time we want to eat only when we are hungry and therefore part of biting into a healthier lifestyle is also being more mindful in our eating practices. So use a smaller plate, spend at least 20 minutes eating, and try and cut back on portion size.

Lastly, it is important to think about how we are preparing food and drink. Are we including creamy soups or fried foods with meals often? These cooking methods can take even a healthy food and transform it into an unhealthy one (fried zucchini anyone?) The Academy offers some suggestions for cooking methods like broiling, steaming, grilling, roasting and stir frying. For our drinks they also offer ways to boost the flavor in water. Suggestions include adding cucumbers, berries, mint or lemon to water in order to give it a wonderful flavor. These methods keep, or even enhance the flavor of the food allowing us to continue to enjoy what we eat.

So how will you bite into a healthy lifestyle this month?