swimmingToday is Labor Day in the U.S., a day which pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

For our neighborhood, the athletic event is the annual dog swim at our community pool. The event starts with one last barbecue potluck to mark the end of the summer. After the last hot dog and watermelon has been enjoyed, families send someone home to retrieve the dog. The gates are opened wide and dogs (on leashes) of all ages, sizes, breeds and personalities come prancing in. Needless to say, high spirits and laughter abound. Some of the dogs are even sporting swim suits! As the clock strikes 4:00 p.m., the lifeguards blast their whistles and owners, dogs, and anybody who wants to, jumps in. Many of the participants are still fully clothed and in high spirits for this hilarious event. For the next 15-20 minutes, it’s a frenzied pool party with theexcited dogs barking, swimming and chasing balls in the water while the nervous dogs claw anxiously to get out. Then, the lifeguards blow the whistles one last time to mark the end of the event, and the closing of the pool … the end of summer. A sweet sadness lingers as families round up the kids, the dogs, and all their pool and picnic belongings to leave. The walk home for our family is always quiet. In Northern Virginia, school and the routine starts tomorrow.

Goodbye Summer … it was wonderful.

The dog swim is not just a fun tradition; it’s a commentary on life, personalities, and success: Some of those dogs are just naturally inclined to the party environment and water. They jump in with gusto and dogpaddle with glee for as long as the party lasts. When it’s time to get out, they reluctantly obey, then shake off the water and spend the rest of the time on the deck, making friends with people and other dogs. Others are nervous before even getting into the water, whining, shaking, resisting and pulling on the leash as their owners drag them along. Sometimes they make it into the pool, sometimes it’s easier and better to just take them home.

Isn’t it just like that with healthy living? Some of us just jump in with all fours and make the most of things until a whistle blows, then we hop out and find other ways to create success, while others of us pull on the leash of healthy living with a fierce resistance that would make one think that a punishment is being offered, rather than feeling and looking better. By resisting we totally miss the fun both in the process and afterwards!!

Blessed are those of us who have habits, attitudes, recipes and a lifestyle in place so that we can just jump right in and enjoy healthy living as we transition into autumn.Whether or not that defines you and your circumstances, however, September marks a fresh, new opportunity for healthy living just as much as January 1 and New Year’s.

How I cherish September of 1991. I’d had my 3rd baby in mid-May. He was a colicky, fussy little guy that we added to a summer that was already a very busy life with my handsome young husband serving as a busy Bishop, the needs and temperaments of other small children and their playmates,and the joy (and sometimes stress) ofmany dear neighbors and their kids streaming in and out of our townhouse. With the lack of routine that summer, I’d also abandoned any control of my eating or regular exercise, hoping that nursing the baby would allow for the extra calories of unlimited ice cream and eating everything in sight round the clock. Oh, the ice cream I consumed during the long nights while my new baby cried and cried. Of course nursing wasn’t enough to compensate, and the summer ended with me feeling as big as when I’d delivered the baby.

When the kids returned to school in September, baby Cooper and I hustled off to Weight Watchers. By the end of the year, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and even better, I was IN CONTROL. Whew! What a relief! I’ll never forget the fun of that Christmas – and it far exceeded the pleasure of the holidays and the clothes that fit. It was the sense that I was in charge of my life and body.

And it all started in September, the day after Labor Day! With the right attitude, the end of the summer and September brings a fresh start and an opportunity for us ALL to go back to school! We can

L – LIFE for ourselves and our families!

Thankfully public schools are making big changes too. If you have school aged children, you may notice a difference in what’s being served up as schools across the country are cooking up new recipes and changing long-established cafeteria offerings to meet updated federal nutrition guidelines that go into effect this fall. The new regulations, created by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, require schools to serve students fruits and vegetables every day and only fat-free or low-fat milk. They must also serve more whole grains, slash their use of salt, saturated fat, and trans fat, and limit calories according to the age of children. So, for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade, calorie limits for breakfast and lunch are set at 500 and 650, respectively. For high schoolers, those numbers increase to 600 and 850. (See link at the bottom for the full article.)

Here in Virginia, cafeteria workers have been carefully trained for the new program, which allows for children to choose 3, 4 or 5 items, of which one MUST be a fruit or vegetable. A serving of fruit or a vegetable that was previously considered one and the same, has now been broken down individually into “fruit” and “vegetable” A wider selection of fresh fruits and vegetables will be served each day. Interestingly, while milk is served, it is NOT a required item, as is a fruit or vegetable.They may choose a vegetarian lunch and take all they want of the fruits and vegetables being served that day – even without a grain, milk or they want. In elementary school if they do not choose a fruit or vegetable worker, the cashier has a bowl of fresh fruit by the cash register and is now required to cheerfully place a serving on the child’s tray.

Interestingly, the little side salad of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato to go on a sandwich now counts as a condiment, NOT a vegetable, and those long ago days of ketchup counting as a vegetable are only in the history books.

Now, of course, what they eat once they leave the serving area is another matter, as it is for US. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. That’s where it’s our job to set the example at home with our own personal habits and family mealtimes to encourage the best choices possible while they are away from us.

As September and a new school year begins, here are some healthy ABCs to get us all off to a great start! The “Back To School” list of Healthy ABCs below can make a fun family home evening where you can talk about healthy choices. Your littlesones can recognize and announce the letters to introduce the subject for a discussion, then let that letter serve as a reminder. Make a poster collage with old magazines of people and families eating smart and exercising. (There’s a link at the bottom to print out a mini-poster of the ABC’s to put on your refrigerator or use as a hand-out for the Family Home Evening.) Make a counting game of the apples, carrots, etc. in a bag or box, then cut up and serve for a treat. There are countless sources online for healthy treats. (In my links below I have included a healthy desserts blog created bythree LDS sisters that I know you will love.)

OK, here we go!

BACK TO SCHOOL ABCs and 1-2-3s


A = Create a positive ATTITUDE, eat APPLES, ACT don’t react, ACCOUNTABLILITY

B = BELIEVE in yourself

C = Remember CONSISTENCY — not perfection!

D = DETERMINATION, desire, discipline make it happen

E = EXERCISE for energy, eat hard-boiled EGGS as they are great protein!

F = Eat FRUITS, find FUN in activity

G = Eat lots of leafy GREENS (especially dark ones), rewardsmall goals, and GO FOR IT!

H = HONESTY is the best policy, your HEALTH is worth it!

I = Say “I can do it!” “I am worth it” Remember: thedifference between fat and fit is I!

J = JOURNAL, journal, journal to find JOY in success

K = KNOWLEDGE is power, KNOW the foods that detour youand KEEP them far away

L = LOSING weight to be healthy means LOVING yourself

M = Avoid MONOTONY using new recipes! Do new activities!

N = NEVER look back. NO Guilt. Today is a NEW day!

O = OBTAINING health is an OPPORTUNITY, not a punishment

P = PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE, remember your PANTS are gonna fit better!

Q = We’re QUEENS and KINGS OF divine heritage! We love quality over quantity!

R = We’re RESPONSIBLE. We Reward ourselves regularly.

S = SHUT DOWN the “SYE” Syndrome ( whenever frustrated or bored we fall into “So You Eat” mode

T = TAKE TIME TO TRY something new, THINK and feel with your head and heart, not your mouth and food — not with your mouth

U = UNLOAD frustration on exercise, a journal, a friend or a walk.

All relieve stress better than food.

V = Provide VARIETY and moderation in all things

W = Drink 6-8 glasses of WATER each day. Brisk WALKS are WONDERFUL exercise!

X = EXAMINE your motives. There are many and they all count!

Y = YOU know what to do, so just do it!

Z = Every ZIPPER is going to slide like silk! So Zippity-Do-Dah for the fun of a healthy lifestyle!!


Mini ABC Poster

Healthy Dessert Recipe Blog by Three LDS

“What’s For Lunch” article on nationwide school cafeteria changes

Carolyn’s Herbal Detox: CLICK HERE and use code “LaborDay” for 15% off through September 4. It is excellent for starting a healthy eating plan and curbing cravings for sugar and refined foods. Also great for colicky babies … how different my life would have been that summer of 1991 for me and my baby if I’d known about this product! <a href="https://www.

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Carolyn’s Favorite Free Online diet support and resource site: www.SparkPeople.com

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available for free through the first of week of September from her website, www.MyMiracleTea.com or at Amazon.com Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at www.MyMiracleTea.com