Girls on the Run alumni now cross country team captains

by Paula Nasiatka, GOTR coach, Tanque Verde Elementary

     Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Captain Carsen, Coach Ventola, and Captain Meg

Meg Healy and Carsen Mastrangelo participated in the first team of Girls on the Run (GOTR) at Tanque Verde Elementary School two years ago. Tanque Verde Elementary had just started the program in the fall of 2012 and this was the first opportunity for girls to sign up with volunteer coaches Paula Nasiatka, Sara Thomas and Elizabeth Medina. GOTR is a national non-profit school based program that encourages 3rd-5th grade girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.

Meg and Carsen had heard about GOTR and were excited to join the 10 week program. They were natural leaders to the younger girls in the program and mentored other girls during the workouts leading up to their final 5K (3.1 mile) run at the end of the season.

After Meg and Carsen completed 6th grade at Tanque Verde Elementary, they went on to Emily Gray Junior High. In 7th grade they joined the Emily Gray Junior High Bobcats cross country team. This year, in 8th grade, they were elected co-captains by their teammates.

Meg noted that “Girls on the Run was some of the best running training I got before I tried out for the team.”

Carsen reflected on her experience, “Girls on the Run helped to build my confidence. I went from ‘I wonder if I could be a runner’ to ‘I AM a runner!'” I don’t think I would have considered cross country if it hadn’t been for the experience of Girls on the Run.”

In addition to Meg and Carsen, 7th grader Ellie Nasiatka is also a GOTR alumni who is on the Emily Gray Junior High cross country team. Ellie developed a love for running when she participated in GOTR for three years at both Agua Caliente and Tanque Verde Elementary Schools. Ellie also mentored the younger girls when she was a 6th grader last year.

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Carsen in full stride during a meet

Emily Gray Junior High cross-country coach Lindsay Ventola is very familiar with Girls on the Run and feels it’s a wonderful program. She recently moved to Tucson from New Hampshire where she was a running buddy for two girls in a GOTR program in Portsmouth, NH.

Coach Ventola reflects, “Running is more than a sport; it is a lifelong practice, and an important hobby/routine to get kids involved with. GOTR creates an opportunity not only to “hook” girls onto running, but it also provides a place for veteran female runners to teach our young ladies the essential aspects for future success. Physically, running demands a great deal of us. Perhaps more challenging, and more importantly, running requires motivation, determination, self-reflection, and confidence – skills I think every young girl should gain and experience in her life. In college, I worked as a nanny after school. I felt so fortunate to be a running buddy with the two elementary school girls I babysat. On a daily basis, I was inspired by these girls. Throughout the program they challenged themselves, improved their time and stamina, built their confidence, made new friends, and walked away with a love of running. Every kid, especially our young girls, should have the opportunity to feel this sense of accomplishment.

This GOTR ¨effect” has clearly come through in both Meg and Carsen, my two 8th grade captains on the Emily Gray cross country team. From the day I met them, both Meg and Carsen stood out to me as the natural leaders. The program teaches these girls what it means to be a leader, it teaches them to be driven in reaching their goals, it teaches them to be kind and supportive of the younger runners, it teaches them to be the best athlete they can be, and a confident person overall. Whether running in snow and ice, or sand and rocks, the Girls on the Run are gaining a solid foundation for a healthy, successful, and most importantly, happy lifestyle.”

Meg approaching the finish line

Meg approaching the finish line

Girls on the Run was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The GOTR curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences.   The earliest version of the 24­ lesson curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of thirteen brave girls.  Twenty-six girls came the next season, then seventy-five.  In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501c3 organization was born.

With the help of over 120,000 volunteers, the Girls on the Run program is now serving over 150,000 girls in 200+ cities across North America each year.  In 2013, Girls on the Run hosted 258 end-of-season 5k events across the United States and Canada. Tucson has a very active GOTR program with Tucson Medical Center as the sponsor. For more information: http://gotrtucson.org/

 

Flexibility, friends, food choices – keys to one RN’s active lifestyle

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

TMC nurse Karina Bechtold hiking in Sabino Canyon on her day off.

When Karina Bechtold was a university student working as a fitness instructor she didn’t understand how people weren’t able to prioritize their lives to make sure they had an active, healthy lifestyle.

Admittedly, the Float Pool nurse had always had a side fun job that focused on fitness. She had an edge to staying active, but still, couldn’t anyone find the time they needed to work out?

“I didn’t get it when I was a college student,” said Bechtold, a five-year RN at TMC. “Why would people give up the workout?”

Then the realities of life set in – a nursing career, a husband, a house and then a baby.

“Fitness is definitely a priority, but I’ve had to change my ideas,” she said. Now she has to be flexible, surround herself with active friends and be more mindful of her eating.

The 28-year-old no longer has the luxury of spending an hour or more at the gym every day. Instead, she’s committed to doing something active on her four days off each week.

Some days it means getting up early before her husband heads off to work. He can watch their 15-month-old son while she spends 45 minutes on the treadmill. “Sometimes the baby is banging on the door the whole time,” said Bechtold, who is also in graduate school to become a doctor of nursing practice.

Other times, it might be a hike up Tumamoc Hill with the now 21-pound baby on her back. “We go slowly, he enjoys the view and my husband runs ahead.” As a nurse and a mom, flexibility is a key to healthy living.

“You have to do whatever works,” she said. “Our schedules fluctuate from week to week, even day to day.” It helps, too, to have a diverse group of workout buddies whom she calls on for exercise dates – some for hiking, some for morning workouts, others for afternoon exercise. “Everyone has friends to go to lunch with, I have friends I can exercise with,” she said, “I have options depending on what my week might look like.”

She has a couple nurses in this group because they also have crazy schedules. “I might know that one of my friends has tomorrow off, too, and could be up for a hike at 2 in the afternoon.”

Exercise is only part of the health equation. Bechtold is also mindful of her eating. “I try to make a good decision at every meal, every day,” she said.

For example, she prefers not to drink her calories and instead water is her drink of choice. “If you don’t get to the exercise, at least you’ve eaten well.”

Bechtold has had to change her mind set with her changing lifestyle, but she’s still committed to her health and she keeps a positive focus. “You don’t want to beat yourself up. If things didn’t work out today, there’s always tomorrow.”

A Lifestyle Change Success Story

Monica Martinez  before

Monica Martinez before

Eat well.  Exercise.

We hear it all the time. The reality is, most of us don’t do it.  Or, don’t do it consistently.

Although people may not always make the best diet and fitness choices, they still intrinsically want to be healthy and fit. In other words, people don’t feel like they’re consciously making poor decisions when indulging in fattening foods or not exercising regularly. An unhealthy lifestyle unknowingly becomes a habit that eventually manifests itself in a person being overweight or developing chronic health problems.

This is exactly what happened to Monica Martinez, patient services representative in Emergency Registration at Tucson Medical Center.

“All of a sudden I realized that I was gaining 3-5 pounds every time I visited the doctor, and eventually developed high blood pressure and a cholesterol problem, requiring that I take medication,” says Martinez

Monica admits that she was always the chunky one in the family, and although she tried on many occasions to lose weight, she struggled to stay consistent and would not follow through with her diet and fitness plans.

This happens far too often to people whose intentions are in the right place.

The struggle to stay on the fitness path become increasing difficult because for some people, even when making the “right” decisions and adopting healthy behaviors, the road to seeing results is long and may come to others quicker than it comes to them.

However, comparing yourself to others is not the mindset you want to get into because it can make you your own worst critic. Monica explains how she felt trying to fit in and comparing herself to some of her friends, hoping that no one would notice her weight.

“I recall not being able to look at myself in a full length mirror. Just going to the store to try on clothes pushed me to tears. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore,” said Martinez.

Managing the busy routine of life, Monica worked nights and began to notice her lack of motivation and not having the energy to play or do things with her children with the little free time she did have. But it was painfully apparent that she needed to make a healthy lifestyle change when one of her young sons suggested that she take a ‘pill that makes you skinny’ that he had seen on an infomercial.

“That was the breaking point.”

For some people, a drastic event or realization is necessary in order to employ consistent and meaningful change. Change for Monica was slow but always increasingly progressive, and she made a commitment to focusing on her health, one day at a time.

“I stopped eating processed high carb foods and adopted a cleaner and simpler diet. I cut out fast food and soda and began drinking protein shakes and eating vegetables and preparing my own healthier meals.”

Educating yourself is an important part in the process of doing the right things for your body and overall health. Monica found out what foods were actually packed with the nutrients she needed.

She also learned that the road to better health and losing weight is not reached solely through improved diet, but all through regular exercise.

Program such as Live Well, a Tucson Medical Center employee program that provides healthcare premium incentives for active employees, provided a way for Monica to begin exercising on a regular basis.

Monica Martinez today

Monica Martinez today

“Through Live Well, I joined an employee fitness team and began brisk walking on my lunch break. I started off only walking a half a mile, but have worked my way up to 4 miles a day.”

In addition, Monica joined a Zumba class and many other fitness activities.

“Finding fun exercises was key to my fitness success. I mix my workouts up and find ways to include my kids or friends.”

Monica went through a lifestyle change transformation, and in doing so, gained self confidence and the motivation needed to keep working towards her health and fitness goals.

Since she made a commitment to change, Monica has lost over 60 pounds and no longer needs to take medication to regulate her blood pressure or cholesterol!

“Throughout this journey it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that what I’m doing is important. Along the way I take the time to celebrate my fitness successes. These are worth celebrating, because when it comes to my health, no success is too small to share or be proud of.”

Did You Know? Zumba!

Correct technique is important in any workout for the prevention of injury and to maximize results.

Group exercise led by a certified instructor can be a great way to introduce new moves and equipment. Typically delivered in one-hour blocks that include a proper warm-up and cool down, group exercise offers social opportunities with others who share the same fitness goals, while providing psychological support and physical benefits.

Estella Van Cleve, a patient care technician in TMC’s emergency department, is the first to acknowledge she wasn’t big on gyms when a friend introduced her to Zumba, a fitness class with roots in Latin and international music and dance. She’d heard of Rumba, but Zumba was new to her.

But when she tried it, she found the hour flew by and she was disappointed that they had to stop.

A certified instructor since 2010, Van Cleve hails from Colombia and has been dancing since she was a toddler. “It’s part of my culture,” she said.

Still, she noted, participants shouldn’t steer clear of a class because they fear they don’t have rhythm.

“If you can walk, you can do Zumba,” said Van Cleve, who cautions that it can be addictive. Zumba music is always playing on her car stereo and her license plate says ZUMBAQN.

The group dynamic is also important, she said. “Everybody has a story to tell and in a group, it’s better because we can share things with other people and learn from their experiences.”

Classes are $5. Classes are currently held at HealthSouth, 2650 N. Wyatt Drive, on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. and on Thursdays from 6:45 p.m. until 7:45 p.m. Please confirm class times on the community calendar at www.tmcaz.com.

TMC Supports Fitness and Healthy Living with the Live Well Team Fitness Challenge

TMC’s Live Well initiative supports employees in living a healthier lifestyle through various fitness activities, programs and incentives.  Last month, Live Well launched the Team Fitness Challenge, a 12-week team activity that encourages TMC employees of all fitness levels to form teams and hold workout sessions one to three times a week. The challenge started on Aug. 15.There are currently 15 teams and over 200 participants.

The team activities cover a wide variety consisting of everything from Zumba and yoga (which we offer here on campus,) to weight training, cycling and P90X.

Kathleen Ball, co-captain of “Team Success,” has provided their team with a calendar of events so that members can choose from activities that best fit their ability and time schedules. Knowing that time is often a factor that keeps people from exercising regularly and achieving their fitness goals, Kathleen says, “I try to keep the team very flexible because sometimes life get very busy and it becomes difficult to put yourself first.”

In addition to the wide variety of fitness activities available to the team, they are also educating themselves on nutrition and how to prepare and eat more healthy meals. They recently had a grocery store experience that included a consultation with a nutritionist. This month they are having a team potluck, during which there is a contest as to who can prepare the healthiest dish that is less than 300 calories per serving.

Using Facebook, Skype, YouTube and other media, allows the team to schedule meetings and exchange workouts and other fitness and health related information.  Team Success also has upcoming events including meetings with a chef, personal trainer, and acupuncturist. The group is on its way to making 1,000,000 steps by Nov.15, and many of the group members are losing weight and reaching their fitness goals.

“Overall this team involves participation and reaching goals in fitness, weight loss, stress management, support, and flexibility – nurturing an overall feeling of accomplishment as we go. I love team success!” says Kathleen.

Did You Know? Improve Cardiovascular Health with Aerobic Exercise

Did you know….that in order to reap the most health benefits from exercise, your intensity should generally be at a low to moderate level, focusing on aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise is a continuous activity that utilizes large muscle groups over an extended period of time. The primary energy sources to complete such a task are oxygen and fat stores, so you lose weight by burning the most calories.

Balance, however, is important. Overdoing it can increase your risk of injury and burnout.

If you’re new to regular exercise and physical activity, you may need to start at a low intensity and gradually ramp up.

Tucson Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation center has an exercise program available, with a doctor’s referral, to employees and the community at large for a nominal $25 a month. To qualify for the program, which is designed to help people head off coronary artery disease, participants must have a risk factor for heart disease, whether that be obesity, smoking, stress, diabetes, high cholesterol , high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease.

Participants may use a variety of equipment, from treadmills to recumbent bicycles and weight training machines. Time slots for workouts are during the clinic’s regular hours of operation.

While gyms are a fine option for many people, the cardiac rehabilitation center offers another level of expertise, said supervisor Mark Gaxiola.

Clinical staff, including registered nurses and physical therapists, are on hand to not only help prescribe an effective and safe exercise prescription, but to be there in case anyone becomes symptomatic. Because the facility is in a clinic, staff can check blood pressures and blood sugars and then decide whether further treatment is needed at an urgent care or the emergency room dictated on the symptoms at hand.

“Peace of mind is important,” Gaxiola said. “You won’t find the same commitment or experience and licensures that we carry in a regular gym environment.”

TMC Athletes: Employee Loses Nearly Half Her Body Weight: “This is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

For Barbara Philipp, obesity was nearly a lifelong struggle.

Various weight loss support programs didn’t work, and the weight piled on even faster during the grief-filled time after her mother died.

Topping out at 385 pounds on a 5’10” frame, the 54-year-old medical transcriptionist at Tucson Medical Center faced many painful moments: needing an extra seat belt when flying, having strangers evaluate what was in her shopping cart, dealing with stares.

The final straw, though, was when she realized she could barely walk from her car in the parking lot to the front door of her apartment without needing oxygen.

Philipp’s story, however, is one of victory, continuing a series that features TMC athletes in a nod to the Olympics season and demonstrates the multitude of ways to embrace an active lifestyle.

Two years ago, Philipp decided she’d had it. After consulting with her doctor, it was determined she would be a good candidate for bariatric surgery, which limits the amount people can eat and reduces the absorption of nutrients.

It wasn’t a simple decision. It also required a major diet overhaul. Carbonation is frowned upon, so soft drinks are a no-no for the woman who used to be able to drink a case of soda in a day. She can no longer tolerate greasy food, yeast bread, peanut butter and pizza, but instead focused on fruits, vegetables and proteins. She has to eat slowly and chew well to aid digestion. She surprised herself by learning to like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

But boy, did the weight come off. She was losing 18 pounds a month for the first 5 months. And she’s still losing about three pounds a month. Now at 199 pounds, she’s well on her way to her target goal of 175.

“Talk about a confidence boost,” she said. And the more confidence she gained, the more active she became.

To get in shape for her surgery, she had started walking with a friend around the block. “I got hooked. I could not get enough of it,” she said. “It was amazing how far I could go once I got some of the weight off me.” Every other day, she now walks 4.5 miles.

In March, she took a class to learn how to run. “I was sore and achy at first. Even my eyelashes would hurt,” she said. She started running for one minute and walking for three, working up to running 4 minutes and walking for one. “Pretty soon, you realize you’re running more than you’re walking. And when they talk about runners getting an endorphin rush, I can now say that’s a fact.”

She said she might be slow – running a 13-minute mile – but she’s doing it, and she’s up to 5 miles every other day. She even did the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k in early June.

She’s off blood pressure medication. She’s no longer borderline diabetic. She’s become more outgoing with strangers.

“This is one of the best things I’ve ever done and I did it for me, and not for anybody else,” she said. “I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines of life anymore. I needed to be a participant.”

TMC Athletes: Systems Analyst and Marathon Runner Suggests Trying Variety of Activities

Kimberly Huffman, business systems analyst

A snapshot:

I’ve been running for almost 10 years now and I participate in as many of the TMC sponsored races as I can throughout the year. I’ve done one full marathon, and 12 half-marathons and two sprint triathlons. I also did my first 42-mile El Tour last year.

Why do you do it?

Running is definitely my fitness choice. I like to eat – I would say chocolate is my downfall – so it’s important to get out there and burn some calories. I love to go on bike rides and I love to swim, but running is still my favorite. I just like being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and scenery. And it just makes you feel better and more energized to have a healthy lifestyle.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

I recently read a book that inspired me about running, but I also felt after reading it that I needed to change my running style. After running the same way for nine years, I guess my feet were happy with the way I was running, so when I changed it up, I ended up spending six weeks with plantar fasciitis and then followed that with a stress fracture. I’m fine now, but my motto now is: Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.

What is your best tip to others interested in becoming more active?

Try a variety of activities. Something will just click if it’s the right thing for you. And then when you find it, start out slow so you don’t risk injury.

Jogging Beats Weight Lifting for Losing Belly Fat: Study

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports on research showing that “Compared with resistance training, aerobic exercise burns 67% more calories.”

If you haven’t been active, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any fitness program. And, if you’re thinking about running, Tucson Medical Center can help. Check out https://www.tmcaz.com/Community/Running to get started on running in Tucson.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461