Program encourages fit choices

Prompted by the increasing obesity rate, Sentinel Career and Technology Center students organized an event to showcase how to eat and live a healthier life.

Medical Technology students Megan Somodi, Ashley Perry and Kaitlyn Hoffman put together a Tech Prep Showcase for their SkillsUSA project. The idea for the program came after a 2009 health assessment showed 13 percent of Seneca County youth were obese, 14 percent were overweight and 3 percent were calculated to be underweight for age and gender.

“It takes a community working together to help everyone be healthier,” Perry said.

A $5,000 grant from National Machinery and Tiffin Charitable foundations made the program possible.

The program, Fit Families For Life, was presented by Zonya Foco a certified health and fitness instructor, certified speaking professional, clinical nutritionist and dietetic technician.

Medical instructor Sandy Reinhart previously saw Foco at a presentation in Utah. She said, “Zonya was so energized and made you think about what you eat and make it healthy.”

Foco is the creator and host of “Zonya’s Health Bites,” and author of books including “Diet Free, The Eight Habits That Will Change Your Life,” and “Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go!” She has been on several talk shows including Oprah.

Foco started off the program by asking the audience if they want more energy than they currently have.

“What you eat makes a difference,” she said. “The right kind of food can help you stay energized and focused.

“Our culture is so full of choices.”

Nine out of 10 commercials on Saturday morning television are filled with unhealthy food choices, Foco said.

“The culture that we live in today is a culture of convenience,” she said.

Foco showed name-brand products that are are misleading “healthy choices.” She said most food claiming to be a healthy choice is full of processed ingredients and dyes that are not natural for your body.

“This is America’s food,” Foco said. “You go down a grocery story isle and see the bright beautiful blue and the bright beautiful read and the fake, fake, fake.”

“People then wonder why heart disease is so high,” she said. “My goals is to let you see that eating healthy can be as easy as eating unhealthy.”

Throughout the presentation Foco asked members of the audience to come up and participate. Foco shared nutrition facts taken from the menu at McDonald’s. One double-pounder with cheese is about 700 calories, which is about 26 cups of fat, Foco said.

“Heart disease is becoming more and more common in the U.S. Is this how we really want to live,” Foco said. “There are many different ways to create healthier choices out there. Knowledge is power and choice is everything.”

Restaurants have healthier choices on their menu, Foco said. “By choosing those healthier choices it will result in the restaurant to incorporate more and more healthier choices by (us) just voting for them with our dollar.”

The audience had a light lunch made with recipes from Foco’s “Lickety-Split” cook book. The supplies were provided by donations from several local businesses and medical personnel.

“This presentation is not just about the dad trying to lower his cholesterol, or the kid trying to lose weight. It is about the whole family,” Foco said. “Cut out the crap and put good in. You can re-wire your brains and change your preferences.”

After the presentation Foco asked the audience if there was one change that they would like to make in their lives to promote a healthier lifestyle.

The audience responded with one word: “Yes!”