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Get Informed!
Get Active!
Get Nutritious!
Get Inspired!
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Featured Participant
of the Month:
Jason Lemieux!
Jason took on the Challenge about 5 months ago and has quit smoking after 17 years.  Check out his story in the Get Inspired section to learn about how he made the change to a more active, healthy lifestyle.



About Jason


Hometown: Plattsburgh, NY 



Physical Activity:  



"I honestly can't put a reason as to why I  love it; there's just something majestic about it. You just run - there's no equipment required (well a good pair of shoes helps), no group to join,  no membership or test to pass. It's a great stress reliever, a way to challenge and push yourself, a flood of natural endorphins, time to reflect on life and some solitude time. Running or any type of physical activity is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it."


You have received the October 2011 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 Informed: State Champion Award winners announced!
  • Get Active: Take part in Walk to School Month
  • Get Nutritious: Try out three first place seasonal recipes
  • Get Inspired: How to put quality first during your workouts
  • And more!


President's Challenge News


State Champions announced

Every year, the President's Challenge designates up to three schools from each state as State ChampionsThese schools earn the honor by achieving the highest percentage of students who earn the Presidential Award for the President's Challenge Physical Fitness TestThe winners for the 2010-2011 school year were announced Oct. 1.  Out of all the schools honored, Lower Creek Elementary in Lenoir, NC had the highest percentage, with 91.5 percent of their students meeting the award criteria.  Additionally, 59 schools earned further recognition for having won the award in previous years.


Each State Champion school received a distinctive award certificate as well as statewide and national recognition for their physical fitness achievement.  The students who contributed to earning this recognition by scoring at or above the 85th percentile in all five sections of the fitness test each received an embroidered State Champion emblem and a certificate.


The application for the 2011-2012 school year will soon be available on the President's Challenge website.  Congratulations to this year's winners!




PCFSN and Other Government News


Follow the Council on Twitter

The PCFSN is now on Twitter: @FitnessGov! Follow them for the latest on staying healthy and active. 


First Lady celebrates the Million PALA Challenge at Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play


First Lady at WWDOP
First Lady Michelle Obama congratulates kids on the Obstacle Course at Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

For three hours, Nickelodeon shut down their television programming to encourage kids to get out and get active. First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance at the network's annual Worldwide Day of Play to congratulate those who earned their PALA and contributed to the success of the Million PALA Challenge, a joint initiative of the PCFSN and Let's Move!  While there, the First Lady also announced the advent of PALA+, the updated version of the PALA program with a new nutrition component. Read more from the Let's Move! Blog.  Videos, pictures and tweets from the event can be found on the Nickelodeon website.



Like Nickelodeon, Go Trybe is promoting activity through the screen as well.  Go Trybe is featured as our President's Challenge Advocate of the Month in the Get Inspired section.


President Obama appoints new PCFSN member, Dr. Jayne D. Greenberg 

On Oct. 17, President Obama announced his intent to appoint Dr. Jayne D. Greenberg as a new member of President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition   Dr. Greenberg is the District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.  Previously, she served as Special Advisor on Youth Fitness to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and as President of the Florida Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Driver Education.  Dr. Greenberg assisted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in developing the "I Can Do It, You Can Do It Program," addressing physical activity for youth with disabilities.  Dr. Greenberg received the March 2009 Point of Light Award by the Governor of Florida and was appointed to the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness in 2009.  She was named the 2005 National Physical Education Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education and received the 2005 Highest Recognition Award by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Dr. Greenberg has a B.S. in Physical Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; an M.S. in Sports Psychology from Florida International University; and an Ed.D. in Instructional Leadership in Physical Education from Florida International University. Read the full press release.     


Judith Palfrey named new Executive Director for Let's Move!

Starting Sept. 6, pediatrician Judith Palfrey, M.D., began her new role as the Let's Move! Executive Director.  As the former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she has been part of the medical community for over 30 years and has extensive experience in caring for children's health.  Read the full press release.




Upcoming Events and Deadlines


International Walk to School Month


Even if you missed Walk to School Day on Oct. 5, there is still time to celebrate being active on the way to school! The entire month of October is Walk to School Month.  Whether you are a parent, teacher or concerned community member, there are all sorts of ways to get involved with promoting active and environmentally friendly routes to and from school. Learn more.  



Check out our Get Active section to learn more about how you can celebrate this month.


National Women's Health Week 2012 Proposal Deadline  October 20, by 5 p.m. (MT)

National Women's Health Week will take place May 13 - 19, 2012. If you wish to host an event that week, funding is available for projects that empower women and girls across the country to get healthy. Community-based partnerships and collaborations are strongly encouraged. Anyone can apply.  Projects will be funded up to a maximum amount of $2,500. Applicants will be notified by Nov. 18, 2011. Learn more. 


Food Day

October 24

Created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day is a time to come together across America to "push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way." The website offers a wide variety of resources, guides and webinars to help you bring Food Day to your community.   


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

October 29 - November 2

Washington, DC

Learn more.   


American Council on Exercise Fitness Symposium

November 3 - 5

San Diego, CA

Learn more.   


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Walk or Bike to School Month


What is it?

A total of 3,930 schools from across the nation registered events for Walk to School Day on Oct. 5.  Although the official day has passed, the entire month isdedicated to increasing the number of students who either walk or bike to school.These physically active modes of transportation not only help to increase the health of students, they also reduce air pollution.  Organizations from all over have come together to promote celebrating Walk or Bike to School Month.  Check out the following video of the "Ped Safety Dance" for getting kids excited and educated about walking to school.


Do the Ped Safety Dance for Walk to School Day 2011
Do the Ped Safety Dance for Walk to School Day 2011

The dance was created by the Michigan Fitness Foundation, with support from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

How walkable or bikeable is your community?

Use the following checklists to find out!  Created by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, these simple checklists allow you to assess how walker- and biker-friendly your community is.They also provide practical tips for both immediate and long-term changes you can make to improve your community's score.

What can you do to get involved?

  •  Start a walking school bus.

Mason City, Iowa recently received a $25,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to begin a Walking School Bus program.  Whether part of a formal program like in Mason City or just a casual gathering of a few area families, these groups create safe walking environments for students on their way to school.  Safe Routes to School and the CDC offer resources to help you get started.

  • Look into bike share programs.

The New York City Department of Transportation plans to begin implementing a bike share program throughout the city.  By making bikes accessible to more people, bike share programs benefit community members and visitors interested in more physically active, environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Watch the video below to see how it works.

NYC Bike Share Quick Look
NYC Bike Share Quick Look

Check out more event ideas, like Walk to School Parades (pictured below).


Walk to School Parade
Students from Eastside Elementary in Clinton, Mississippi celebrated International Walk to School Day with a parade. (photo by Cindy Hamil,


News and Research


Physical activity helps teens quit smoking

A recent study sought to find ways to improve smoking cessation among teens (ages 14 - 19 years). Researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine combined the "Not on Tobacco" smoking cessation program with a physical activity module.  After six months, the teens who completed the physical activity module were more likely to successfully quit smoking than those who just did the cessation program. Physical activity appeared to be more beneficial for boys than girls.  Read more. 


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Check out the story from our Featured Participant of the Month to see how he was able to quit smoking and get active while using the President's Challenge. See the Get Inspired section.

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Fall Foods


Top Chef competition utilizes seasonal ingredients

Fall fruits and veggies, figs, broccoli and sweet potatoes, are key ingredients in the winning recipes from the annual "Job Corps" event on Capitol Hill, which took place Sept. 13 - 15.  Annually hosted by the National Job Corps Association (NJCA), the event included a "Top Chef" competition to promote healthy and nutritious food services in support of Let's Move!  Read more about the event. The following three recipes created by Job Corps chefs were winners in the competition and could be winners in your kitchen as well!


Entre Winner: Balsamic and Fig Glazed Pear-Topped Chicken Breast


4 oz goat cheese

3/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. fresh minced garlic

1/2 cored pear

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cup dried figs

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

chicken breast





Preheat oven to 375* degrees.


Goat Cheese Filling:

1. Combine the goat cheese, thyme and garlic until thoroughly mixed.

2. Take the cored pear and with a rounder tablespoon, scoop the mixture into the pear. Put aside.


Fig Sauce:

1. Puree the low sodium chicken broth, dried figs, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a blender until smooth.

2. Strain out solid and pour half of the fig sauce into a 13/9 in. pan.



1. Place a chicken breast over the fig sauce in the 13/9 in. pan.

2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place filled pear on top of the chicken, open side down.

3. Drizzle chicken with remaining fig sauce.

4. Bake at 375* degrees for 20 minutes, basting occasionally. Bake for another 30-40 minutes until chicken breast reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

5. Serve and enjoy.

*Baking time will vary depending on how many chicken breasts you wish to cook at once.


Side Dish Winner: Mac-N-Cheese Muffin Surprise


3/4 Lb. whole wheat pasta

1/2 gallon 1% milk

3 1/4 cup low fat cheddar cheese

1/4 cup diced broccoli

1/4 cup diced sundried tomato

1/4 cup diced red peppers

1/4 diced carrots

1/4 cup of diced red onion

1 tbsp. flour

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp. of Smart Balance Butter



1. Boil water and add pasta, turning down the heat to medium. Drain but do not rinse off.

2. In a sauce pan bring milk to a slight boil add 3 cups of cheddar cheese, stirring constantly with wire whip and until blended. Add 1 tbsp. of flour to mixture, simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Dice vegetables and saut them with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Be careful not to overcook, vegetables, they should be al dente.

4. Add your vegetables and cheese sauce to pasta, mix together.

5. In a small bowl mix 1/4 cups of panko crumbs with 1 tablespoon of smart balance butter.

6. Grease muffin tins. Using a 4oz scoop, scoop mixture into each tin; top each one with a sprinkle of bread crumb mixture and a little shredded cheddar cheese. Garnish with a piece of sundried tomato and a fresh parsley sprig. You can also take a little of the cheese sauce and put a dollop down on each plate and place the muffin on top.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 30 minutes.


Dessert Winner: Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Sweet Potato
This sweet potato bread pudding won the Job Corps "Top Chef" dessert competition.


3-4 large sweet potatoes

1/2 stick earth balanced butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup fresh orange juice (strained from orange)

4 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup agave nectar

5 qts wheat bread

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup soymilk

1 cup pecans & walnuts

1/2 cup brown sugar



Sweet Potato Bread Pudding:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sweet potatoes. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, agave nectar, orange juice, beaten eggs, butter and vanilla.

2. Once potatoes are soft & tender, break up and add pecans. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

3. Cut bread into cubes, toss sweet potatoes mixture with bread. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.



1. Take the juice from the sweet potatoes and let it cool down. Add 1/2 cup orange juice and  cup soy milk.

2. Reduce down and glaze top of pudding.

3. Roast the pecans and reduce the agave nectar, dipping the pecans into the nectar, 1/2 cup brown sugar.

4. Garnish with orange peels (julienne), glazed whole pecans and mint leaf.



News and Research


More fiber for less belly fat

The kind of fat that is to blame for bulging waistlines is known as visceral fat.  A recent study from Wake Forest University found that people with higher intake of soluble fiber tended to have less of this kind of fat.  For every additional 10 grams of soluble fiber that people ate, their accumulation of visceral fat decreased by 3.7 percent. Ten grams of soluble fiber is roughly the amount found in two small apples, a cup of green peas or a half-cup of pinto beans, according to the lead researcher.


Fiber Video  

An apple a day may actually keep the doctor away

Fruits and vegetables with white flesh, such as apples of pears, may help decrease risk of strokes, according to a study from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. As opposed to fruits and vegetables of other colors, those with white flesh were found to reduce stroke incidence by as much as 52 percent with high intake. Every 25 grams per day of white fruits and vegetables consumed led to a 9 percent decrease in the risk of stroke. Read more.  


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Guest Column


Quality over Quantity        

Marjie Gilliam

Getting the most out of an exercise program means putting quality over quantity. This raises some common questions:


How many days per week should I work out?

One size does not fit all when it comes to determining the number of days per week to exercise, but generally for beginners, strength training two to three times weekly and performing 30 minutes of low to no impact aerobic exercise most days of the week provides a safe starting point from which to build.


Frequency can also vary depending on the number of exercises performed. If performing a total-body weight training workout for example, it is important to allow a day or two for the muscles to recover. If working different muscle groups on different days, alternating between these workouts is acceptable.


Other factors that influence how often to train include current state of health (ex: medical conditions, joint problems, prior injuries) degree of exercise experience and individual goals.


How can I avoid plateauing?

A plateau is your body's way of letting you know that it is no longer being challenged enough to continue giving you greater results. Instead of being discouraged if you reach a sticking point or using it an excuse to throw in the towel, think of it as your guide to knowing when it is time to make your workout to the next level. With resistance training, the number of repetitions, sets and weight lifted should not only match your goals, but should also change periodically as your strength and muscular endurance increase.  To enhance cardiovascular benefits, doing a variety of different types of activities allows for the muscles to be worked along multiple planes of movement and prevents workouts from getting stale.  You can also up the intensity of your aerobic workouts by increasing minutes, pace or frequency.


What is the proper form and speed of movement?

The next time you are in the gym, take a moment to observe the many ways that exercises are performed. When it comes to training, whether its cardio or resistance training, it is not unusual to see people moving too quickly, resulting in either improper form, injury or less than satisfactory results.

For a new challenge and alternative to focusing on how fast you are moving, try increasing the level of incline or resistance on cardio machines such as treadmill or elliptical instead. If you normally walk fast but on a flat surface, try slowing it down a bit and incorporating hills.


If it's been a while since you've changed the intensity in this way, do so gradually so you don't do too much too soon. Going from walking on a flat surface to doing an entire workout of walking up hill for instance, could result in shin splints or muscle cramping. A better idea would be to alternate between hills and flat surfaces within the same workout for the first week or two, increasing the amount of time on hills as your body begins to adapt. 


With resistance training, it is tempting to move quickly in order to lift a weight, however, with increased speed of movement comes an increased risk of injury. If you are an advanced exerciser, have sports-specific training goals and are without joint problems or medical conditions, a faster, more-explosive lifting pace can be productive. For most exercisers however, moving at a slow or moderate pace reduces risk of injury while allowing you to pay attention to proper form and technique.  A two to three second lifting and lowering pace is sufficient for most exercises.


Marjie Gilliam is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist and freelance journalist, and has authored thousands of articles devoted to health and wellness. Each month we feature one of her articles. Check back next month to see what she has to say about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as it relates to fitness, health and wellness.



Share Your Story


President's Challenge participant Jason Lemieux explains how he turned his life around

Jason Lemieux

My name is Jason Lemieux, I am 32 years old, I am a proud President's Challenge participant and a winner of the Presidential Champions Bronze Award. Here's my story...


I quit smoking on April 1st of this year, yes April Fool's Day, no joke. I was a smoker for about 17 years, so after several failed attempts at quitting, I knew that if I was going to quit then I would have to completely reformat my life as well.


The major part of this reformatting was exercising and eating healthy. I am fortunate enough to work where I can use my lunch break to work out in the fitness center we have in the facility. Also, I was fortunate enough to have a co-worker who was highly educated in fitness. Most importantly, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family.


About three weeks after I quit smoking, I received an email at work regarding The Presidents Challenge, and our agency suggested we join. I thought this would be an excellent tracking and motivation tool, which it was since I've been using it ever since I joined. If it wasn't for the support I have, the participation and motivation of being in The President's Challenge, I don't think I would be were I am today.


As of today (Oct. 10) I have been cigarette free for 27 weeks and 3 days. I have also started and continued to eat healthy. I am now addicted to running and finished my first 10K a few weeks ago - taking 2nd place in my age group. I am a new me, and I have The President's Challenge to thank for that.


So the basis of my story is that regardless of your age or your bad habits, you can change. Focus on the future and feel good about yourself just by taking a few big steps. Thank you for the motivation and information you have provided to keep me on my new found journey to the new me.  



If you are a President's Challenge participant, we want to hear from you! How has the President's Challenge impacted your life? Tell us about your personal fitness and nutrition journey.  Share with us today, so we can publish your story can inspire others!  E-mail your story to our writer, Brooke, at



Advocate of the Month



Go TrybeGoTrybe is an online, interactive social community dedicated to the health and wellness of our youth through Active Screen Time™. "Trybers" can interact with fitness, nutrition, motivation and wellness content that supports their journey toward living healthfully. GoTrybe wants to be an inspiring force in the fight to get children and teens active while combating childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. As a result, GoTrybe's mission is to change some of the normal sedentary screen time into activity and health education. Learn more.  


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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