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Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

Each year, we provide scholarships to 150 financially disadvantaged children for our summer camp programs. For my article this month, I want to share a letter that was written to my Childcare Director, Cathleen Garner, from a PE teacher at Alta Loma Junior High School.

Hi Cathleen,

I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite 7th grade students, Sammy Goehring. Sammy is 278 pounds. Her measurements are: Bust 53"; Waist 52 ½"; Hips 55"; Calf 21" and Thigh 30 ½". Sammy loves life but would be a lot happier if she lost some weight. Sammy's goal is to return to school next fall looking different. Sammy and I have been working together for about four weeks now after school in the fitness room at school. Sammy does the Resistance band circuit and walks on the treadmill. We do one mile on the treadmill, a round on the ten-station circuit, then end with ½ - 1 mile on the treadmill. Sammy needs to be pushed a little. She does want changes, but being only 12 years old, she needs guidance. Sammy is very active in PE but wants to be able to move quicker.

I have a note from her doctor, and I have 100% support from her parents. As of right now she has no restrictions. Sammy would be a great candidate for camp. She will be away from her peers. Being away from mom will also be good (mom means well but gives in easily at times). Sammy has been eating lunch with me this week. We have been eating spinach salad with spinach; green, yellow, red and orange peppers; zucchini; almonds; dried cranberries; cheese and a little dressing. We add a little chicken or tuna. Sammy has not been used to eating vegetables but is eating the salad. We also have a piece of fruit before our workout and lots of water. My goal for Sammy is to love working out and seeing a difference in how she feels by working out and eating good food. When Sammy reaches a loss of 50 pounds, I am taking her to Disneyland (this is a surprise only her mom knows so far). My dream for Sammy is to see her walk into school in August with a smile on her face, a new haircut, weight loss that is noticeable and new clothes. I want her friends to say, "Sammy, you look amazing." I will do all I can to help make this dream come true. Thank you so much for helping me.

A little side note... I had another student in my PE class eleven years ago. She hated exercise and didn't eat right. She called me almost two years ago now. She wanted help to lose weight and run the Disneyland Half Marathon. I am 63 years old, and I run 5Ks and marathons. I always share that with my students. I tell them that, if I can run 13 miles, they can run two miles on a Friday run day... I agreed to help her. It took a year, but she lost 70 pounds. Last Labor Day, she ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. When she crossed that finish line, I was there... we hugged and cried together. She continues to work out every day and eats very healthy. She has run many 5Ks since then and will run another Disney Half this year. I'm so proud of her. My life as a PE teacher is complete when I can write success stories like these. After 41 years of teaching PE, it kills me to see what is happening to our kids. I am not in perfect shape myself, after breaking my neck, but I do what I can to stay in pretty good shape.

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