Stay Strong, Live long. Eat Right, Be Bright
The aim of this website is to target teens aged 12-18 to become more self-aware about their eating habits and realize the importance of healthy eating and physical exercise. This is a group project by Xiaoqing Chen, Youssef Attallah, Maged Haleem, and Nadine Alawis from Professor Pamela Stemberg’s Writing for Sciences class at The City College of New York. In the contents below, you will find an infographic, four written articles relating to our topic, a works cited page, and website resources for teens.
Happy reading and exploring! 🙂
Which side would you rather be on?
Healthy Eating Tips
How often have you been told to eat your vegetables or that healthy eating is important? If you live with your parents, grandparents, or adults that regularly make homemade food, most likely, healthy eating has been stressed a lot, right? You are told to stop eating the entire bag of potato chips or to stop drinking the can of Coca Cola with the chips. While drinking too much soda can cause health consequences, that does not mean you should not drink it all together. That is not what healthy eating means. Eating healthier just means that you should strike a balance and pay more attention to what you’re putting into your body. It may sound complex and difficult to achieve, but with knowledge and effort, you will be on your way to leading a physically and mentally healthy and happy lifestyle. Here are some tips on ways to achieve that: (if you stick with us to the end, there will be some delicious, healthy, and easy to make recipes that you can follow at home!)
- Self-assessment: start by reflecting on your eating habits. Ask yourself: what am I eating? how many meals/snacks a day do I normally eat? Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? What is my daily calorie intake? How many grams of fat, sodium, sugar, fiber am I taking in? [See our next article to learn more about the truth behind your food!]
- Cut down on sugary/salty snacks and sodas. [Note: I’m not telling you to not eat them all together, set some limit on how much you consume a day, week, or month] Not only will this habit benefit your health, but you’ll also save your pocket money!
- Incorporate fruits and green vegetables in your meals. I know, green veggies may seem like a nightmare, but it is really healthy and good for you. Some do taste awful without a doubt, but a lot are actually very delicious. We’ll give you a delicious yet healthy recipe in the end!
- When going grocery shopping with your parents or guardian (or even buying food at the deli), READ FOOD LABELS. Don’t be fooled if a certain, seemingly healthy granola brand states “30% less sugar”. But 30% less than what? What is it being compared to? Even if it says 30% less, it can still contain a lot of sugar! Read the nutritional facts (how much calories, saturated/unsaturated/trans fat, mg of sodium, grams of sugar does it contain?) AND its serving size.
- Reading labels part 2: check the ingredient list! If you take the bag of potato chips you have at home or any food that has a food label, look at the ingredient list. How long is the list? Which ingredients do you recognize? Chances are, you don’t know half of what’s listed. Often times, the longer the ingredient list, the more you should avoid that food product.
- Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-manageable)- example: I aim to incorporate at least three cups of green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and two cups of fruits a day into my meals for one month. I will keep track of that by taking a photo of each meal with fruits and vegetables. By setting goals and expectations for yourself, you’re taking initiative and accountability for your own health!
- Meal prepping: if you don’t like school food, bringing your own lunch is another option. It may sound like a lot of extra work, but it can be done if you plan strategically. For example, dedicate Sunday afternoon or evenings to prepare your lunch for the rest of the week (which can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week). You can also talk to your parents/guardians about it too; they would be more than happy to help. Not only is it a better option than avoiding school lunches, you can learn healthy cooking skills (a very useful life skill)!
- Last but not least, stay HYDRATED! Drink lots of water! It is the best substitute for Coca Cola, Pepsi, Arizona, or other sugary drinks you may be consuming. Milk (1%, 2%, coconut, soy milk) is also good for you!
A healthy recipe! This article by the Huffington Post shares with us delicious and nutritious rice bowl recipes. There are a variety of dietary choices.
BONUS: Video recipe by Buzzfeed’s Tasty.
While I love watching and being inspired by Tasty recipes, one aspect I dislike about it is the fact that they use a lot of oil (olive oils, etc.). You don’t have to follow the exact recipes amount. I would suggest cutting back on the use of oils.
How Working Out Changed My Life
One of the biggest reasons today why teenagers are overweight is because of junk food. I was one of those who couldn’t resist the juiciness of the grilled burgers and the smell of hot fries. If you’re like me or going through something similar because of a little extra weight, keep reading and I guarantee you will change your mind about those burgers.
This is my story. Ever since I was little, I couldn’t handle the least of physical activity without my kidneys hurting. My parents took me to the hospital, and I found out that I suffered from a kidney problem. What did that mean? It meant no running around or playing with my friends. When you exercise, damaged muscles release myoglobin (muscle fibers) which must be filtered through kidneys; too much myoglobin can affect kidney function. Without any physical activity, I kept putting on more weight. Plus, my lack of knowledge about the food that I was eating was making my condition worse. By the age of 15, I weighed almost 200 lbs. Shocking huh…but that wasn’t the end of my story. I was bullied and mocked at school because of how I looked. I stopped going to school and felt miserable at myself and helpless. One week later, a friend asked me to come to the gym with him. I was reluctant to go at first, but I said to myself if I don’t try to change my lifestyle, I will be overweight forever and I didn’t want that. This day I will never forget as in the most painful day of my life but somehow, I felt kind of happy after we were done. Every time I did an exercise, my kidney started to hurt to the point that tears were dropping onto my cheeks on their own. However, I didn’t want to stop. A couple of weeks in, I started following a clean diet and working out even more. My hard work was finally paying off as I started seeing results after one month of going to the gym twice a day. Three months later, I reached my body goal of 165 lb. That’s when fitness become my passion.
I expanded my knowledge further by reading articles, books and watching videos about healthy diets, exercising and most importantly losing weight. I learned the science behind losing weight and how to keep my body in shape. The one common thing I found was that the key factor behind losing weight was learning the truth behind the food that you eat. Eating healthy is the number one solution to losing weight and also being happy. Teens tend to eat junk food because it tastes good, easy to find, and cheap. Many teens do not even think about their calorie intake. Controlling the intake calories is very important when losing weight and staying healthy. Junk food is high in calories, sugar, and carbs which causes one to become overweight. On the other hand, healthy food is low in calories and it fills you up. That helps when it comes to losing weight because the intake calories are less than the calories burned which leads to a calorie deficit-when your intake calorie is lower than the calorie burn. A simple trick you can use to determine and control the number of calories you eat is to multiply your body weight (lbs) to any number between 12 to 15 depending on how active you are. 12 being not moving at all (moderate exercise once a week) and 15 being extremely active (exercising 3-5 days a week). For example, if you weigh 150 lbs and your level of activity is #13, then your daily calorie intake should be around 1950 calories.
Check out this video to help you better understand caloric deficit and how to burn fat
Exercising – A Guide
Before getting into exercising tips as I’m sure that all of you are eager to start exercising, let’s discuss some reasons you would want to exercise:
- To stay healthy
- To lose weight
- Gain muscle
- To stay in shape
- For bodybuilding competition
- To impress yourself and be happy
- To go have fun and spend time with your friends
Regardless of the reason you have for exercising, these are some tips you can follow as a beginner:
1. The first tip is to get up from your comfy sofa and leaving the chips that you shouldn’t be eating in the first place and go to the gym or park or playground wherever you want to work out. Be ready to sweat.
“Only you can pick yourself up to go workout.”
2. Plan-out beforehand. If you just go to the gym without knowing what you want to do, your workout won’t be as effective. You go one day and miss three days because you’re too tired to go and more importantly you don’t have a set goal in mind. On the other hand, planning out will keep you focused and will organize the muscles group that you want to hit each day until you reach your goal.
“If you go to the gym to have fun then don’t go at all.”
3. Set a goal. This goes with planning because it makes your workouts more organized. Setting a goal is also helpful because it motivates you to keep going until you achieve that goal. For example, completing a 60-day pushups challenge.
“After you accomplish one goal, set a new goal and so on.”
4. Go to the gym with a friend, not any friend, one that has set goals as you and takes his/her exercises seriously. This will motivate you even more and you could even start competing to see who gets the beach body first.
“Friends who exercise together get better results.”
5. Don’t ego lift. Lifting heavy weight that you don’t know you can handle is a big NO because you risk injury. There is no need to impress other people that you don’t even know because you feel intimidated of how muscular they look compared to you. There shouldn’t be a comparison to begin with because everyone must start somewhere and it takes time to get results.
“Leave your ego at the door.”
6. Depending on the type of exercise, whether you’re doing cardio, lifting weights, calisthenics or stretching, you don’t want to overwork yourself. If you do a 2 hour workout, you’ll be so sore to even get up from bed the next day let alone work out.
“The purpose is to stimulate not annihilate.”
7. Watching YouTube videos can be helpful when starting out as beginner to help you do the exercises properly. While these videos are educational, they can also prevent you from injuring yourself and performing quality reps (repetitions).
8. Make Sure to get a good 9-hour of sleep with the proper nutrition so your body can rest and heal.
“Eat, sleep, gym, repeat.”
Don’t forget your water and…Enjoy Your Workout!
How to get a 6-pack: the right way
If you are thinking about taking supplements check this out:
Benefits of Eating Healthy + Exercise, What Happens If You Don’t
Getting regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. It lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and it can also help control stress, improve sleep, boost mood, keep weight in check, and reduce the risk of falling and improve cognitive function in older adults. It doesn’t take marathon training to see real health gains. A 30-minute brisk walk on five days of the week is all most people need. Getting any amount of exercise is better than none. Being a “couch potato” may be harmful even for people who get regular exercise.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association support the idea that “more activity increases the probability of success.” When you decide it’s time to live a healthier lifestyle, you’re likely to get better long-term results if you start improving your diet and increasing physical activity at the same time.
It may seem better to improve just one thing at a time. But while you don’t have to make drastic changes overnight, it’s best to begin by bettering both your nutrition and your activity level.
Here are seven main benefits of Physical activity and healthy eating!
Exercise also boosts circulation and the delivery of nutrients to your skin, helping to detoxify the body by removing toxins or poisons.
As exercise boosts oxygen to the skin, it also helps increase the natural production of collagen, the connective tissue that plumps your skin. Your skin colour is also improved after exercise because of the increase in blood flow.
Regular exercise reduces the amount of stress hormones in the body, resulting in a slower heart rate, relaxed blood vessels, and lower blood pressure. Increased relaxation after exercise shows in your face with reduced muscle tension.
Research shows that regular exercise reduces symptoms of mild to moderate depression and enhances psychological fitness. Exercise can even produce changes in certain chemical levels in the body, which can have an effect on the psychological state.
During exercise, plasma levels of this substance increase. This may help to ease symptoms of depression. Studies have found that physically active people were half as likely to be depressed as non-active people.
Exercise also boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send specific messages from one brain cell to another. Though only a small percentage of all serotonin is located in the brain, this neurotransmitter is thought to play a key role in keeping your mood calm.
Regular exercise appears to help boost the immune system, thus helping to reduce the number of colds, flu, and other infections.
Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and helps it receive oxygen and nutrients. The better shape you’re in, the faster you activate brain waves that are responsible for quick thinking.
So, for example, if maths is a real problem, you may find that daily exercise helps to solve it.
Most people know that exercise keeps muscles strong. But did you know that strong muscles burn more calories? Muscle mass is a metabolically active tissue. In other words, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re not working out.
Studies estimate that for each pound of muscle you add to your body, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories per day. So an extra five pounds of muscle will burn about 175-250 calories a day, or an extra pound of fat every 14-20 days.
Regular, moderate exercise, particularly weight-burning exercises like walking, running, jogging, and dancing, keeps your bones strong.Studies show that resistance and strengthening exercises also boost bone mass and keep muscles strong.
DeNoon, Daniel. “Benefit to Improving Diet and Exercise at the Same Time.” Harvard Health, 28 Apr. 2013, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/benefit-to-improving-diet-and-exercise-at-the-same-time-201304266126.
HHS Office, and Council on Sports. “Importance of Good Nutrition.” HHS.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services, 26 Jan. 2017, www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html.
Ray, Rachel. “Physical Activity .” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 9 July 2012, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/physical-activity-its-important.
“A Guide to Eating for Sports.” Edited by Sarah R. Gibson, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Sept. 2014,
Works Cited/Resources for Teens
Our Works Cited page and links for more resources/websites!
“Health Risks of Being Overweight.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Feb. 2015, http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight. HHS Office,… Read more “Works Cited”
Here are some helpful websites to explore: https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/nutrition-resources/index.html https://www.nutrition.gov/ https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/ https://www.nccor.org/nccor-tools/youthcompendium/ https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/physical-activity-resources/index.html