What exactly does it mean to be healthy? For many of us, “good health” is just a vague notion — until something goes wrong and we’re forced to take a closer look.
In this series of biweekly columns we’ll discuss what factors — other than genetics — contribute to our mental and physical well being, including fitness, nutrition and even how we think about our lives. The goal is for all of us to start taking control of our own health!
When was the last time you felt great? Maybe it’s right now. But maybe you’ve been feeling sluggish and run down and you can’t quite figure out why.
What if I told you there was one thing you could eliminate or cut way back on that would help you lose weight and feel better, and even help stave off sickness and disease? Would you give it a try?
Can you guess what I’m referring to? Here are a few hints:
- This ingredient is hidden in many foods.
- It goes by at least 20 different names.
- It affects our weight, moods, appetite, complexion and energy levels.
- It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and increased risk of cancer.
What ingredient do all these items share?
Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed sugar! That’s right, all of the above processed foods have added sugar to make them taste better to consumers and to reap big profits for the food manufacturers — who don’t give a darn about your health.
What’s so bad about sugar anyway, as long as we don’t eat too many calories? Well, there’s nothing wrong with having a sweet every now and then. The problem is that our bodies are just not meant to process the huge amount of sugar the average American now eats on a daily basis: 22.7 teaspoons a day! (The recommended daily amount is not more than 6 teaspoons for women, 9 for men.)
911 Outage Report Released — A report regarding Northern Virginia’s 911 outage following last summer’s derecho storm calls on Verizon to provide an audit of its entire 911 infrastructure. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Board of Directors approved the report, which found that the outage was caused by the loss of commercial power and the subsequent failure of one of the two backup generators in each of Verizon’s Arlington and Fairfax central offices. Improper maintenance and incident response also reportedly contributed to the outage. [MWCOG]
Arlington Third Healthiest County in Virginia — A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers indicates that Arlington is the third healthiest county in the state. Coming in first is Fairfax County, followed by Loudoun County. The study examined data from nearly every county in the nation. Overall, Northern Virginia counties fared better than those in the southern parts of the state. [WTOP]
Key Elementary School Educator Chosen as Teacher of the Year — The 2013 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year is a fourth grade educator at Key Elementary School. Erica Russell has been teaching at the school since 2006. She will be honored by the School Board on May 15, and is the county’s nominee for the 2013 Virginia Teacher of the Year Competition. [Sun Gazette]
The new vending machines are part of the county’s FitArlington initiative. At first, about half of the contents of the vending machines will contain healthier snack options that are lower in calories, fat and sugar.
One such snack machine includes options like baked potato chips, Clif bars, Nutrigrain bars, Sun Chips, 100 calorie sweet packs and other options. Drink machines will offer low-fat milk, low-calorie teas and bottled water — although the county is discouraging people from buying the latter.
“Our FitArlington Healthy Vending machines will have water but remember that it’s better for the environment to bring your own bottle and fill it up at a nearby drinking fountain,” the county said in a press release (after the jump).
The vending machines will first be deployed to county office buildings then are expected to be installed in community centers and parks starting in August. (Long Bridge Park, which was in need of vending machines, got an early installation.)
The machines are provided by a vendor at no cost to the county, according to spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
Board Members Want More Capital Projects — Arlington County Board members don’t want to stop new capital spending projects, saying that “now is not the time to stop investing in the future of the community.” Board members say that interest rates are low and the construction market is competitive making new building projects cheaper than they might be in the future. [Sun Gazette]
Reporter Peeved About FOIA Fees — Connection Newspapers reporter Michael Lee Pope is continuing his crusade against public records practices at the Arlington County Police Department. This time around, Pope notes that the police department has charged or threaten to charge between $31.16 and $573.25 for his Freedom of Information Act requests. Pope writes that “Arlington County’s system of nickel-and-diming the public and the press serves as a barrier to public access.” [Arlington Connection]
Tea Party Wants to Weigh in on Streetcar — The Arlington County Tea Party says it wants to make a presentation at the upcoming March 27 community forum on the planned Columbia Pike streetcar. At least one other anti-streetcar organization has made a similar request. [Sun Gazette]
Moran: Vaccinations Save Lives — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is encouraging constituents to get vaccinated. “As Chairman of the Congressional Prevention Caucus, I understand the important role prevention plays in reducing contagious diseases,” Moran wrote in his weekly newspaper column. “Due to the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2009, most health insurance companies, including Medicare, are now required to cover recommended vaccinations… with no out of pocket cost. Increased coverage for preventive measures is a significant step towards a health care system that truly improves the health of the American people.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Metro Closing Several Pentagon Escalators — Metro will begin its third major escalator replacement at the Pentagon station on February 4. Three of the six “southside escalators” at the station entrance will be shut down for replacement with new, more reliable units. Customers will still be able to use the three other escalators on the north side. [WMATA]
Proposal to Extend Voting Hours Fails — The proposal by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) to extend voting times in Virginia has failed in committee. The measure would have pushed poll closing time from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. [Sun Gazette]
Claremont Elementary School Earns Health Award — The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and Sodexo presented Claremont Elementary School with the Healthy Schools Award for being one of five schools having the most participants in the MCM-organized Healthy Kids Fun Run in October. The Claremont P.E. department received $1,000 and each student received a healthy snack pack from Sodexo. [Arlington Public Schools]
Emergency Winter Shelter Open — Because of the extreme cold, the county’s Emergency Winter Shelter, which is usually only open at night, will be open all day today. If you see someone in Arlington needing shelter from the cold, call 703-228-7395.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Parents of Arlington public school students were told today that “one or more outbreaks of norovirus have been confirmed in schools in Arlington.”
It’s the second publicly reported norovirus outbreak at Arlington Public Schools so far this year. In February a norovirus outbreak was reported at two Arlington schools.
This time around, outbreaks have been reported at Patrick Henry and Randolph elementary schools, according to APS Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations Linda Erdos, who added that the letter below was sent to all parents “because it’s that time of year” for norovirus outbreaks.
Earlier this year, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia described the February outbreak as “nothing unusual” and noted that previous outbreaks did not result in any student requiring hospitalization.
The Arlington Department of Human Services sent the following letter to APS parents today.
Dear APS Families:
This communication is being sent to let you know that one or more outbreaks of NOROVIRUS have been confirmed in schools in Arlington. This virus spreads very quickly and easily and there is no vaccine or medicine for it. Even if your school has not been affected, prevention is essential!
FACTS: Norovirus causes “gastroenteritis”, or infection of the stomach and/or intestines. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms typically resolve in a few days, although in rare cases the outcome can be more serious.
HOW IT SPREADS: These pathogens are HIGHLY contagious through contact with an infected person’s vomit or stool, or through contact with contaminated food or objects.
PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL IF:
- You know or suspect that your child has a fever or is ill. Please delay sending her/him to school and take the time to feel certain that she/he is well enough to participate in school activities.
- Your child has vomited the night before, or in the morning before going to school.
- Your child has diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping.
- Your child complains of generally not feeling well.
- Your child has any combination of the above symptoms.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
Make sure your child washes their hands frequently and thoroughly before meals or food preparation, after meals, after using the bathroom, and anytime their hands get dirty. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” TWICE).
IF SYMPTOMS DEVELOP: Please keep your child at home and inform the school. For additional guidance, contact your healthcare provider and provide them with a copy of this letter. Your child will need to remain at home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours).
WHAT WE ARE DOING: School Health, which is part of the Public Health Department, is working closely with Arlington Public Schools to identify cases and to prevent the spread of the disease
WARNING: Monitor for signs of dehydration if your child is unable to keep fluids down.
MORE INFORMATION: If you want to read more, information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/faq.htm.
QUESTIONS: If you have questions, please contact the nurse in your child’s school clinic or visit the School Health Bureau’s website at www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.
Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN
School Health Bureau Chief
Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
Public Health Physician
A man purported to have a healing gaze will be gazing at rooms full of people at a Crystal City hotel this weekend.
Braco, a Croatian man who purportedly has the gift of being able to awaken “positive and beautiful feelings and energies” simply by gazing at people, will be holding nine daily 30-35 minute “gazing sessions” at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday.
Though some may be skeptical of the power of Braco’s gaze, he has been doing it since the 1990s and thousands of people still line up for his gazing session.
“His visitors report his success through fascinating recoveries and positive changes in their lives, which attracts more and more people from all over the world,” according to his website. “And during those silent sessions people feel deeply touched even without having any direct and personal contact with Braco. They feel touched by an invisible and silent power, which is flowing through them and they try to open and assimilate that power.”
In the video below, two American veterans describe their profound experience with Braco.
Braco’s gazing sessions will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for one gazing session are $8, and are sold at the door or online.
The final session of each day will include the playing of ‘The Voice,’ described as “an eight-minute recording of Braco speaking, and offers another way for us to receive this gift into our lives.”
For the record, the price of admission is said to only cover Braco’s event expenses.
“Braco does not take any money for his help; he does not accept donations and the sessions are always free at his Center in Zagreb [Croatia],” according to his website. “There is only a small fee at international events, when he visits other countries on tour, to cover the event facilities rental and organizational costs.”
Hat tip to John Fontain. Photos via Braco.net.
Last week, or perhaps even earlier, the McDonald’s restaurant at 3031 Columbia Pike started using a new drive-thru menu that included calorie counts for each menu item. Although some jurisdictions require chain restaurants to post calorie counts for menu items, Arlington does not. That prompted us to ask McDonald’s why its Columbia Pike location was doing so voluntarily.
Was it a one-off experiment, or something even bigger? Today we finally got the answer.
In a press release, McDonald’s announced that its restaurants nationwide — including in Arlington and the greater D.C. area — will be listing calorie information on all indoor and drive-thru menu. The move comes ahead of a new federal requirement for restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to list calorie information, part of President Obama’s health care legislation.
McDonald’s says that in addition to posting calorie information, it will be rolling out a series of healthier menu items, including new wraps, an egg white breakfast sandwich, and additional fruit and vegetable options.
See the full McDonald’s press release, after the jump.
It began this morning with outdoor yoga at the Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive). The free yoga sessions will continue every Monday through September, starting at 7:00 a.m.
Tomorrow, the FRESHFARM Farmers Market returns with a variety of items from local growers and producers. The market is open from 3:00-7:00 p.m., and will be held every Tuesday through November on Crystal Drive between 18th and 20th Streets.
On Wednesday, another outdoor class will get participants moving. A Zumba class will be held at noon in the courtyard at 2121 Crystal Drive. This class will take place every Wednesday through September. Anyone who takes part can freshen up afterward with a free shower at the nearby Sport & Health club.
A “Fit Fair” will be held at Crystal Drive and 18th Street from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursday. A number of health screenings will be available, including blood pressure, stress test, body mass index, and a gait analysis for runners. Attendees can get information on smoking cessation or receive a chair massage. A blood donation station will also be set up.
Thursday night, a new season of street hockey will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to 220 20th Street. Matches run for 11 weeks on Thursday evenings or Sunday mornings. Individuals pay a $25 fee and teams pay a $250 fee.
The final Fit Week event, called the Floral Frenzy, is on Friday. Residents and workers are invited to dig up the thousands of tulip bulbs along the sidewalk in front of 2121 Crystal Drive. The bulbs can be replanted at home and should continue to bloom for several years.
More information about Crystal City Fit Week can be found online.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Arlington Ranked Second Healthiest County in Va. — Arlington has been named the second-healthiest county in Virginia, second only to Fairfax County. The rankings were released yesterday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Arlington County works hard to promote a healthy way of living, and to provide residents with options that make it easier to stay healthy and fit,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, citing biking, walking and recreational activities as examples of healthy options encouraged by the county. [Arlington County]
Donnellan: Theater Builds Communities — A robust arts program is vital to quality of life in Arlington, according to County Manager Barbara Donnellan. A theater buff in high school, Donnellan says theater helps build a sense of community, which is one of the key roles of local government. [Theatre Washington]
ACT College Closes in Arlington — ACT College, a D.C. area health training school, has suddenly shut down its Arlington, Alexandria and Manassas campuses. The school’s Arlington campus was located at 1100 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. [WJLA]
Ballston Company Recruits Nerds — In its effort to recruit top software engineers, Ballston-based Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) is billing itself as a paradise for nerds. The company, which analyzes sales data for big retailers and restaurants, has been sponsoring hackathons, computer competitions and even StarCraft tournaments for students at top universities. The nerd recruitment seems to be working: the average SAT score of APT employees is 1560. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
On Tuesday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation For The Cure cut its funding for Planned Parenthood. The money had supplied breast exams for 170,000 women over the past five years.
The founder of the foundation cited changes in priorities and policies, and says the money will be put elsewhere to benefit a larger number of women. However, some say the decision was political, and the foundation was pressured by right-leaning organizations who disapprove of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services.
Just today, The Atlantic reported that a top official at Komen resigned in protest over the dust up.
Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.) released the following statement following Komen’s decision to pull funding for Planned Parenthood:
The Komen Foundation’s decision regarding Planned Parenthood is deeply troubling. As an organization dedicated to eradicating breast cancer, it’s hard to understand how eliminating funding that provides hundreds of thousands of women with preventive screenings is in anyone’s best interest.
I call on the Foundation to reverse their decision and not let politics interfere with protecting women’s health.
ECC Employees Overworked, Underpaid – Arlington’s emergency communications center is suffering from chronic understaffing and staff high turnover rates. The ECC, which handles 911 calls and police/fire/EMS dispatching, is hoping for a 10 percent boost in funding in this year’s county budget. [TBD]
Abortion Regulations Pass General Assembly — Gov. Bob McDonnell is promising to sign a bill that will impose new regulations on Virginia abortion clinics. The bill, which passed the General Assembly yesterday, would hold abortion clinics to some of the same stringent safety regulations as hospitals. Pro-choice groups are warning that the bill could force many clinics to close. [Washington Post]
Map Puts Arlington at Top of the Healthy Heap — Our congressional district, Virginia’s 8th, is the healthiest in the country, according to the American Human Development Project. As this map interactive shows, our residents are expected to live the longest of any other district in the country.
Hang On to Your Hats — Dangerously high winds are expected this afternoon.
Flickr pool photo by Reid Kasprowicz
Arlington Makes AP’s “Least Stressed” List — Arlington has placed 12th on the Associated Press’ list of the 20 least economically stressed counties in the U.S.
County Gov’t Getting Paid By Feds — Arlington County will be reimbursed more than $300,000 for expenses associated with President Obama’s inauguration, the Sun Gazette reports. The county government is now turning its attention to securing about $800,000 in reimbursements from FEMA for December’s “Snowpocalypse” snow storm.
Affordable Housing Lawsuit Dismissed — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the county’s plan to partner with Clarendon’s First Baptist Church for an affordable housing development. More from ABC7.
Health Dept. Asks “How Are We Doing?” — The Arlington County Public Health Division wants public feedback on how it handled its H1N1 vaccination campaign. Fill out the online survey here.
The Arlington County Medical Reserve Corps is looking for a few good men and women to volunteer their time for public health initiatives and emergency responses. Volunteers with both medical and non-medical backgrounds are welcome.
New volunteers are required to attend an two-hour orientation session and should be ready and willing to assist staff in an emergency, participate in annual exercises and drills and support outreach and education projects. The next orientation will be held on Wednesday, April 7, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
To volunteer, email ArlingtonMRC [at] arlingtonva.us or call 703-228-4986.
More information on what the Medical Reserve Corps does, after the jump.