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Welcome to the December 2012 issue of Fitness is Fun, the official e-mail distribution of the President's Challenge. These monthly e-mails will keep you updated on our programs, activities of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) and other current information pertaining to physical activity, nutrition and fitness.

In this issue...


Get Active   

Get Nutritious   

 Get Inspired  



President's Challenge News


EducatorBookPresident's Challenge Educator Booklet Available for Download


The new President's Challenge Educator Booklet is now available on our website for download. The President's Challenge booklet provides educators with information to motivate and encourage students to lead healthy, active lifestyles through a variety of programs and awards. The booklet highlights the goals of each program, as well as step-by-step instructions to help you get started today! Visit the Resources Section of our website to download your copy! Print copies are also available by request only.


Presidential Youth Fitness Program News


WebinarMonthly Webinar: FITNESSGRAM Administration: Tips for Educators


Tuesday, December 11, 2012  

1:00 - 2:00 pm EST


Learn how to use and properly administer the newly adopted FITNESSGRAM assessment in this short webinar.


Register Now  


Reserve your seat today! Space is limited. You will receive a confirmation email after registering with information about joining the webinar.   


ElliotMeet Student Employee Elliot Lusk


Elliot Lusk, a senior at Indiana University has worked at the President's Challenge for 1 1/2 years providing software support, customer service, and order fulfillment. Elliot takes pride in his role at the President's Challenge. Continually striving to excel at each task presented, Elliot addresses all questions and concerns diligently and to the best of his ability. "If there's a task at hand, I want to do it to the best of my knowledge," he says, "Because President's Challenge is a national distribution center, we handle all of the phone calls, orders, and IT support, so being able to interact with participants from around the nation is very unique and enjoyable." Working at President's Challenge requires one to be able to handle many tasks at one time. Elliot believes that his ability to multi-task will serve useful in the future.


Elliot is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology. His career goals include working for the Indiana State Police and eventually serving as a U.S. Marshal. He has always been fascinated with working within the United States justice system.  Elliot enjoys interacting with people and a large part of police work is just that.  "People often have a misconception when it comes to what police actually do," he says, "a great deal of their work involves interacting with citizens to find out about problems within the community as well as creating a better, safer environment for everyone to enjoy. Problem solving is a major aspect of the job, and I both enjoy and excel at solving problems."  

When it comes to exercise, Elliot enjoys rotating between lifting weights and running.  He says, "it's important to switch up your routine every now and then, so I also bike and play intramural sports."


Video2323 ½ Hours: The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health



Watch this short informative and encouraging video by Dr. Mike Evans. Are you surprised by his answer to "What's the single best thing you can do for your health?" 



Champion Medallions 


  Presidents Challenge Fitness Medallion
Celebrate the holidays and your gold, silver, or bronze award status with these stately solid metal medallions. Each 2 1/2 inch disc boasts an engraved bald eagle on the front and the presidential signature on the back. The gold award sports a blue cloth ribbon, the silver award, red, and the bronze award, a white ribbon. Champion Medallions make great stocking stuffers for you, and the fitness fanatics and champions in your life!


        PRICE: $6.00-$7.00





For information on how to order the Champion Medals or any of our other merchandise, visit our  online shopping center. 


PCFSN and Other Government News


 AwardsPCFSN Award Nominations


The President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is now accepting nominations for three awards: Science Board Honor Award, Community Leadership Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award.


The Science Board Honor Award is given annually to an academic or research professional who has made a major contribution to the advancement and promotion of the science of physical activity and/or nutrition, in addition to being an advocate of the President's Council mission. Nominations must be submitted electronically by December 31, 2012 to be considered. The award recipient will be notified in January. To nominate an individual, please visit the Science Board Honor Award Nomination Form.


The Community Leadership Award is given annually to up to 50 individuals or organizations that provide or enhance opportunities to engage in sports, physical activity, fitness, or nutrition-related programs within a community. Nominations must be submitted electronically by February 1, 2013 to be considered. Recipients will be notified in May. To nominate an individual, please visit the Community Leadership Award Nomination Form.  


The Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to up to five individuals whose careers have greatly contributed to the promotion or advancement of physical activity, fitness, sports, or nutrition nationwide. Nominations must be submitted electronically by February 1, 2013 to be considered. Recipients will be notified by April 1, 2013. An award ceremony for each recipient will be held either in Washington, D.C. or the recipient's hometown. To nominate an individual, please visit the Lifetime Achievement Award Nomination Form.




To learn more about the Lifetime Achievement Award, watch the President's Council YouTube Video highlighting Executive Director, Shellie Pfohl, and the 2012 award recipients.

 EcardsCDC Offers Health-E Cards


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer free  Health-E Cards to  encourage healthy behaviors at home, work, and while traveling. Send cards to your friends and colleagues year-round for a light-hearted way to say you're thinking about their health and safety. Some cards offer mini health-related quizzes while others share healthy reminders, which are great for the holidays. Check out Winter Weather, Jack Frost, and Healthy Holiday cards!


UpcomingEventsUpcoming Events and Opportunities


PCFSN Honor Award Nominations

Due December 31, 2012



Nominate an academic or research professional who has made a major contribution to the advancement and promotion of the science of physical activity and/or nutrition, in addition to being an advocate of the President's Council mission.


Healthy Weight Week 

January 20-26, 2013



The 20th annual Healthy Weight Week is a time to celebrate healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems.  Our bodies cannot be shaped at will, but we can all be accepting, healthy and happy at our natural weights.


26th Annual Share the Wealth Conference 

January 24-26, 2013

Jekyll Island, GA


Get great new ideas and network with fabulous physical educators from across the country at this conference sponsored by GAHPERD.


PCFSN Community Leadership Award Nominations

PCFSN Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations

Due February 1, 2013



Final submissions are due for the PCFSN Community Leadership & Lifetime Achievement Awards. For the Community Leadership Award, nominate an individual or organization that provides or enhances opportunities to engage in sports, physical activity, fitness, or nutrition-related programs within a community. For the Lifetime Achievement Award, nominate an individual whose career has greatly contributed to the promotion or advancement of physical activity, fitness, sports, or nutrition nationwide.


New Partners for Smart Growth

February 7-9, 2013

Kansas City, MO


The 12th annual conference will explore practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the Midwest and the rest of the nation. The conference's trip to the Midwest underscores an expansive diversity ripe for innovative smart-growth strategies and opportunities for industrial big cities, suburban neighborhoods, small towns and rural agriculture stretching across the Great Plains to the Great Lakes to the Rust Belt to Appalachia.


National Bike Summit

March 4-7, 2013

Washington, D.C.


More than 800 advocates, government staff, and cycling enthusiasts of all types will congregate in Washington DC to highlight the benefits of bicycling. This year the supporters will detail the economic advantages of bicycling--generating billions of dollars for the U.S. economy, creating jobs and boosting community development. The united voice of the bike industry, event directors, and local riding clubs is a powerful constituency.


Partnership for a Healthy America Building A Healthier Future Summit  

March 6-8, 2013

Washington, DC


Join more than 1,000 leaders from public, private and non-profit organizations, all committed to solving the childhood obesity crisis in America.


Safe Routes to School National Conference 

August 13-15, 2013

Sacramento, CA


Learn how Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs across the country are changing the habits of an entire generation of school children and their families. Transportation professionals, SRTS advocates, program representatives, elected officials and community members will connect with colleagues to discuss ideas, resources, projects and noteworthy practices to enhance work that is creating more active children and safer communities nationwide.


 Back to Top  Get Informed  Get Active   Get Nutritious   Get Inspired Get Involved

GetactiveGET ACTIVE! 




International Folk Dancing


As the days grow shorter and colder, it's tempting to hunker down and stay home where it's warm and comfortable. If you're not one for the gym environment, and you're looking for a way to stay active indoors this winter, international folk dancing may open up a world of fun and creative exercise for you! International folk dancing involves line, circle, square, and couple dances, typically from Europe, but also from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Americas, Australia, and the South Pacific.


International folk dancing is a great exercise for all Americans. No costume or expertise is needed! Simple steps learned for one dance can help you learn others more quickly. International folk dancing groups around the country typically meet weekly with a portion of the evening dedicated to teaching new students. Dance sessions are held in schools, churches, and community centers with free or minimal admission. A listing of international folk dancing groups by state can be found online. Dancers interested in pursuing advanced international folk dancing and competition should check out the International Dance Organization. 






  DessertsHealthy Holiday Dessert Tips from We Can!


Many holiday memories and traditions center around family meals and special
desserts. While making these recipes may resurface fond family memories, the extra calories, which can impact your family's health, might create some concern. To preserve these traditions and help your family make healthy choices over the holidays, consider making some swaps that will still satisfy your family's sweet tooth, but will also offer more nutrients and less calories, saturated and trans fats, and added sugar!


As you plan your holiday get-togethers, consider these tasty dessert ideas:


  • Pile on the Fruit. Fruit by itself makes an ideal dessert. Try placing a bowl of clementines or apples on a holiday table.
  • Update family favorites with healthy add-ins. If homemade breads are your family's treat of choice, try baking with whole wheat flour or adding in healthy options like bananas, blueberries, cranberries, or apples.
  • Make it a mini. Consider serving bite-sized desserts like mini pies, cake pops, and one bite cookies to help control your family's portion sizes. But remember, just because they are smaller in size doesn't mean you should eat more of them!

Learn more about how your family can eat healthier during the holidays.


WassailHere We Come A Wassailing: Cinnamon, Cloves & Allspice


Wassail, a cider once associated with the harvest season, has now become a Yuletide tradition. The name comes from Middle English meaning, "good health" or "be you healthy." With juice, citrus, and potent herbs, wassail truly is a beverage for good health.


  • ½ gallon of apple juice
  • 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon allspice berries

Put juice and orange slices in a crock pot on low heat. Put spices in a cloth bag or metal tea strainer and let float in the juice for 4-5 hours. Serve warm and enjoy.


While cinnamon, cloves and allspice all tout their own health benefits there are several things these spices have in common. They all have anti-inflammatory and carminative properties and contain significant amounts of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important to keeping skin, mucous membranes, and vision healthy. When membranes are moist, they are resistant to cell damage. This prevents bacteria and viruses from getting established and starting disease. Cloves and cinnamon are both antioxidants, with cinnamon having the highest antioxidant strength of any food source in nature. Antioxidants reduce damage due to oxygen, such as that caused by free radicals, and may possibly reduce the risks of cancer. Here's to wassail and a healthy new year!




GetinspiredGET INSPIRED! 


CarrieCarrie Swidecki Breaks Dance Game World Records


Carrie Swidecki is a 36-year old 2nd grade teacher at Sandrini Elementary School in Bakersfield, CA. On March 2-3, 2013 she'll be setting the Guinness Book of World Record for the longest marathon on a motion-sensing dance game using Just Dance 4, by dancing over 30 hours. She'll become the only person in the World to set a World Record for marathon play on all three major dance games: Just Dance, Dance Central, and Dance Dance Revolution-all to bring awareness to a fun and effective way for people of all ages to fight obesity! In a gaming world dominated by youth and men, she is also breaking cultural boundaries along the way.


Carrie In just over a year's time, Carrie has set three World Records for marathon play on dance video games, ran ten 5k races, six half marathons, and one full marathon. Twelve years ago, she was 210 pounds, a plus size 18-20, and in her words, "living my life in the past." The once 120-pound high school athlete credits her discovery of Dance Dance Revolution for changing her life. Since she began exergaming, Carrie has lost 75 pounds, attended two Dance Dance Revolution US Championships, won an inspirational athlete award, and has become a Nuun Ambassador, a demonstrator for Exergaming, and a passionate advocate for fighting childhood obesity. She says, "I have no idea how I got here. I've been chasing a dream for twelve and a half years-so long that I never slowed down to realize that I exceeded my own expectations." 

"My greatest accomplishment is being able to integrate my love for exergaming  into my second grade classroom," Carrie beams. She first introduced her students to Dance Dance Revolution and in return they introduced her to Just Dance. After writing four grants and establishing exergaming in her classroom for two years, she was asked to pilot a school-wide program. On December 1st, she began an after-school President's Challenge program for 95 2nd-6th grade students, exclusively using games like Just Dance 4 and Dance Dance Revolution. She's dedicating her 4th World Record to the students, parents, and staff of Sandrini Elementary who encouraged her to buy an Xbox and Kinect last Christmas. She hadn't personally owned a home console since she was eighteen years old. Carrie hopes her fourth World Record attempt in March will also be a fundraiser to purchase equipment for the new after-school program. "I wish you could see the energy and excitement of the students as they exergame," Carrie says, "It's priceless!" Dance games have evolved to incorporate your whole body giving you an incredible full body workout. Soundtracks consist of popular music students relate to and great dance choreography. As of a week ago, two other school sites in her district have become aware of the President's Challenge, and she hopes that they too will catch dance fever.


At 210 pounds, Carrie never imagined that she would be a world record holder. Today, she says, "It just shows that when you find something you love and work hard, you can achieve anything in this world. Never give up on your dreams and the fight to overcome obesity!"


Advocate of the Month


ZumbaZumba Fitness


Since 2001, Zumba® founder Alberto "Beto" Perez has turned working out into a fitness party. Zumba combines easy-to-follow dance moves with a contagious blend of Latin rhythms to create exhilarating, high calorie-burning classes. Zumba offers a range of DVDs, video games, clothing, and classes at 140,000 locations in 150 different countries. Zumba mixes it up with a variety of classes including body toning, circuit training, water and chair work-outs, and specialized instruction for children and seniors.



Carla Felder, Zumba instructor and founder/CEO of Girls Meet World Mentoring and Fitness Program in Columbia, South Carolina, led girls in a 30 minute Zumba demo at the National Night Out event this past August. She began the President's Challenge and Let's Move campaign back in June and since that time has seen nothing but results. Girls Meet World nutrition workshops have taught the girls as well as their moms how to purchase and prepare healthy foods and Zumba classes keep them active, sweating, and reversing the effects of obesity, diabetes and hypertension.


She meets with the group twice a week and never discusses "diet" or "weight" when teaching them the importance of good nutrition and daily physical activity. Nor does she use the terms "working out" or "exercise". Kids love music, dance and having fun and that gets them moving and grooving in her Zumbatomic® classes.


"The girls are slimming down and their self-esteem is through the roof.  In the beginning stages, they became long- winded and very tired within the first fifteen minutes of class and now they can endure hour-long sessions. They love learning new dance moves and they think my Zumba uniform is 'mad cool'," she says, "I couldn't imagine any greater joy than being a Zumba Fitness instructor and seeing these young people happy, healthy and having so much fun."


Science Board Column


ScienceBoardThe School Day Just Got Healthier

By: Rachel K. Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD, PCFSN Science Board Member


This fall, school nutrition programs underwent major changes that improved the nutritional quality of school lunches nationwide.  The media has been filled with stories about the new menus, which feature more whole grains, fruits and vegetables in items such as sweet potato fries, whole-wheat tortillas and black bean and corn salsa. These improvements to school meals represent a victory for health and nutrition advocates aiming to address the high rates of childhood overweight and obesity in the United States.  Nevertheless, students, parents, teachers and school administrators may be anxious about the changes. How have school meals changed and are students going to accept the new menus?


To read the entire blog, visit:


We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of Fitness is Fun.

As we begin to create our next issue, we would like to hear from you!

We welcome questions or comments regarding current content and are open to suggestions for future topics we should address. Inspiring stories are also appreciated and could become features in upcoming issues. 

E-mail us at


The Fitness is Fun staff
The President's Challenge