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Today is Labor Day in the U.S., a day which pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

For many years we lived in a neighborhood where Labor Day meant an afternoon pot luck at the community pool, followed at 4:00 PM by the annual dog swim. The lifeguards would blow their whistles in unison, then everyone and their dogs would jump in. Happy hilarity abounded as everyone splashed and laughed. In 15 minutes the lifeguards would do one long, last blast with their whistles, and everyone went home to get ready for school, which would start the next day. Summer was officially over.

The dog swim was not just a fun tradition; it was a commentary on life, personalities, and success: Some of those dogs are just naturally inclined to the party environment and water. They jump in with gusto and dogpaddle with glee for as long as the party lasts. When it’s time to get out, they reluctantly obey, then shake off the water and spend the rest of the time on the deck, making friends with people and other dogs. Others are nervous before even getting into the water, whining, shaking, resisting and pulling on the leash as their owners drag them along. Sometimes they make it into the pool, sometimes it’s easier and better to just take them home.

Isn’t it just like that with healthy living? Some of us just jump in with all fours and make the most of things until a whistle blows, then we hop out and find other ways to create success, while others of us pull on the leash of healthy living with a fierce resistance that would make one think that a punishment is being offered, rather than feeling and looking better. By resisting we totally miss the fun both in the process and afterwards!

Blessed are those of us who have habits, attitudes, recipes and a lifestyle in place so that we can just jump right in and enjoy healthy living as we transition into autumn.

Whether or not that defines you and your circumstances, however, September marks a fresh, new opportunity for healthy living just as much as January 1 and New Year’s.

How I cherish September of 1991. I’d had my third baby in mid-May. He was a colicky, fussy little guy that we added to a summer that was already a very busy life with my handsome young husband serving as a busy Bishop, the needs and temperaments of other small children and their playmates, and the joy (and sometimes stress) of many dear neighbors and their kids streaming in and out of our townhouse. With the lack of routine that summer, I’d also abandoned any control of my eating or regular exercise, hoping that nursing the baby would allow for the extra calories of unlimited ice cream and eating everything in sight round the clock. Oh, the ice cream I consumed during the long nights while my new baby cried and cried. Of course nursing wasn’t enough to compensate, and the summer ended with me feeling as big as when I’d delivered the baby.

When the kids returned to school in September, baby Cooper and I hustled off to Weight Watchers. By the end of the year, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight and even better, I was IN CONTROL. Whew! What a relief! I’ll never forget the fun of that Christmas – and it far exceeded the pleasure of the holidays and the clothes that fit. It was the sense that I was in charge of my life and body.

And it all started in September, the day after Labor Day! With the right attitude, the end of the summer and September brings a fresh start and an opportunity for us ALL to go back to school! We can

S – SIMPLY and SERIOUSLY
C – CHOOSE
H –HEALTHY FOODS AND EXERCISE
O – OVER
O – OTHER DISTRACTIONS FOR A BETTER
L – LIFE for ourselves and our families!

Family Home Evening “Our Healthy A-B-Cs”

As September and a new school year begins, here are some healthy ABCs to get us all off to a great start! The “Back To School” list of Healthy ABCs below can make a fun family home evening where you can talk about healthy choices. This can easily be adapted for families of all ages, couples, and roommates who want to help each other become healthier.

1. Lesson:

A. Show pictures of the temple, endowment rooms, sealing rooms, etc. Talk about what a clean, special and beautiful place it is. Talk about the care that goes into building and furnishing a temple. Though not seen or photographed each temple also has many rooms for the mechanical equipment to keep it at the right temperature, along with extensive plumbing for bathrooms, laundry rooms, as well as offices for papers, computers and telephones. Talk about how keeping it sparkling clean and functioning is a top priority that is scheduled and budgeted for so that it will always be worthy of Heavenly Father’s spirit and the important work that takes place there. Consistent care of the plumbing, heating and air condition and electricity components though they don’t show, are critical for the temple to function. Elaborate as is age appropriate, then read the scripture

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. I Corinthians 3:16-17.

Explain that our bodies are a gift from our Heavenly Father and given to us so that we can live and learn here on the earth in order to return to him someday. It is important to take care of this special gift, as it is with any gift that comes from someone who loves us and wants us to be happy. Explain that even as the temple is properly cared for so that it will function the way Heavenly Father has planned, He wants and expects us to take care of our bodies so that we will not get sick or overweight, and also be able to run, walk, work and play without getting tired. Just like the temple has many rooms that house the electricity, plumbing, furnaces, etc., that we cannot see but still need great care, our bodies also have parts that we cannot see, but we take care of by the food we eat, exercise and enough rest each night.

B. Print out the poster of the Healthy 1-2-3s and A-B-Cs below, or just go through the alphabet and come up with your own ideas for each letter. Your littlest ones can recognize and announce the letters to introduce the subject for a discussion, then let that letter serve as a reminder.

2. Activity:

Have fun making a poster collage for the kitchen or family room. Using the ABCs in the center, decorate it with cutouts from old magazines of people and families eating smart and exercising.

3. Refreshment:

Make a counting game of the apples, carrots, etc. in a bag or box, then cut up and serve for a treat. There are countless sources online for healthy treats. (In my links below I have included a healthy desserts blog created by three LDS sisters that I know you will love.)

OK, here we go!

BACK TO SCHOOL ABCs and 1-2-3s

Click here to get the poster

FACT: (1) A WISE DIET + (2) EXERCISE + (3) TIME = A HEALTHY BODY AND A HAPPY LIFE!

A = Create a positive ATTITUDE, eat APPLES, ACT don’t react, ACCOUNTABLILITY

B = BELIEVE in yourself

C = Remember CONSISTENCY — not perfection!

D = DETERMINATION, desire, discipline make it happen

E = EXERCISE for energy, eat hard-boiled EGGS as they are great protein!

F = Eat FRUITS, find FUN in activity

G = Eat lots of leafy GREENS (especially dark ones), reward small goals, and GO FOR IT!

H = HONESTY is the best policy, your HEALTH is worth it!

I = Say “I can do it!” “I am worth it” Remember: thedifference between fat and fit is I!

J = JOURNAL, journal, journal to find JOY in success

K = KNOWLEDGE is power, KNOW the foods that detour youand KEEP them far away

L = LOSING weight to be healthy means LOVING yourself

M = Avoid MONOTONY using new recipes! Do new activities!

N = NEVER look back. NO Guilt. Today is a NEW day!

O = OBTAINING health is an OPPORTUNITY, not a punishment

P = PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE, remember your PANTS are gonna fit better!

Q = We’re QUEENS and KINGS OF divine heritage! We love quality over quantity!

R = We’re RESPONSIBLE. We Reward ourselves regularly.

S = SHUT DOWN the “SYE” Syndrome ( whenever frustrated or bored we fall into “So You Eat” mode

T = TAKE TIME TO TRY something new, THINK and feel with your head and heart, not your mouth and food — not with your mouth

U = UNLOAD frustration on exercise, a journal, a friend or a walk.

All relieve stress better than food.

V = Provide VARIETY and moderation in all things

W = Drink 6-8 glasses of WATER each day. Brisk WALKS are WONDERFUL exercise!

X = EXAMINE your motives. There are many and they all count!

Y = YOU know what to do, so just do it!

Z = Every ZIPPER is going to slide like silk! So Zippity-Do-Dah for the fun of a healthy lifestyle!!