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In this particular study 492 second, third, and fourth grade students were tested for their Body Mass Index (BMI). Of the 492 students, 202 were girls and 290 were boys. And according to the resulting data, NONE OF THE GIRLS WERE OBESE, and A FULL 92% fell into the normal weight range. Which is to say ONLY 8% fell into the “overweight” range and carried any excess body weight at all!! The ONLY qualification to participate in this study was that all students had to be able to perform at least one conventional pull up, going from all the way down (elbows straight) to all the way up (chin touching the bar). So they could be boys or girls, tall or short, black or white, Democrat or Republican. It made no difference. But if they could do at least one conventional pull up they were qualified. The Girls' Conclusion... The obvious conclusion is that if you’re a girl and you want to avoid carrying excess body weight, start young and learn to do at least one pull up. Do this and... read more

I have a confession to make. One of the most interesting effects of starting an Operation Pull Your Own Weight childhood obesity prevention project at an early age (K, 1, 2) is the fact that there is very little in the way of physical benefit for naturally athletic kids who are already genetically (or socially, psychologically, economically, etc.) predisposed to being strong, light, and well coordinated. In contrast, kids who'd normally be left behind because they're genetically (or socially, psychologically, economically, etc.) predisposed to picking up excess weight will avoid being left behind because they'll immunize themselves against obesity for life by learning and maintaining the ability to do pull ups. The confidence boost that results from this experience alone is beyond calculation. But there's more. Check it out. Nothing Succeeds Like Success When all kids learn at an early age that THEY CAN tackle a difficult task like learning to do pull ups (Oh yes I can),... read more

Creating new antibodies (white blood cells) through the process of vaccination is how kids are systematically immunized against polio, diphtheria, small pox, and measles. Creating new FUNCTIONAL ANTIBODIES through the process of functional childhood obesity prevention is how 21st century kids can systematically immunize themselves against today’s # 1 health threat, childhood obesity. Check it out. Step One... Step one is to frame childhood obesity in terms of a physical disability that requires preventative action BEFORE the disability actually strikes. You don’t wait until your kids get polio before vaccinating them, right? Childhood obesity requires/demands the same preventative foresight if we’re going to have any chance of winning this war that’s being waged against kids throughout the developed world. What Does it Look Like? How do you do that? And what do functional obesity antibodies look like? It’s actually quite simple. Functional obesity antibodies look like... read more

Out of a 17 year teaching career, the four years I spent as the coordinator of a fitness based self esteem program called Operation Pull Your Own Weight at Jefferson Elementary School in Davenport, IA were by far and away the most memorable and significant to me. In the wake of those four years the program died because the state grant which underwrote it ran out of funds. Ever since I've been searching for ways to bring it back to life and in the process I've had lots of people ask WHY I continue with this Quixote-like pursuit when I've had so many doors slammed in my face, and conventional bureaucratic wisdom seems to lack any appreciation for its simple elegance, and its blatant obviousness. I'd like to try and briefly answer that question here and now. In my own formative years (grades k-12) my teachers and the system in which they worked, did a great job of convincing me and my parents that I was average in almost every conceivable way. For example when reading groups were... read more

Like many of my friends and fellow classmates, I experienced 13 years of education (including kindergarten) before graduating from Burlington High School in Burlington, IA back in 1965. That is to say, after 18 years of living, I’d spent over 66% of my life in the process of being educated – learning my ABC’s, learning to read, learning my multiplication tables, and most importantly learning how to fit myself, mold myself, squeeze myself into the society generally known as “school.” During those 13 years of education I experienced classes in history, social studies, geography, English, algebra, geometry, science, chemistry, physics, and Spanish, just to name a few. And when I finally walked across the stage and accepted my high school diploma I was considered to be educated by the Mississippi River community in which I grew up. But for some reason I didn’t feel educated. I didn’t feel like I really understood all the things I’d been taught. The world around me was still pretty... read more

1. Why do you attend school? A. To meet other kids, to have fun, and to socialize. B. Because my mom and dad say I have to go. C. To get stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. D. To improve my smart phone thumb technique. 2. What’s your job when attending school? A. To get stronger every day, every week, every month, all year long. B. To avoid becoming weak at every opportunity. C. To help my acquaintances grow stronger whenever I can. D. All of the above. 3. What’s the teacher’s job when you’re attending school? A. To boss kids around. B. To present information and to test kids on the info that’s been presented. C. To help you grow stronger in a specific part of your education. D. To be entertaining and to make sure that school is fun for you. 4. When you grow stronger every week, every month, every year, you’re a… A. A strong student B. A weak student C. An average student D. A loser 5... read more

Show me a kid who can run like a deer, jump like a rabbit, climb like a monkey, and move quickly from side to side (and absolutely loves the opportunity to do so) and I’ll show you an ATHLETE. Show me an athlete and I’ll show you a kid whose odds of becoming a good player of football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, hockey, or whatever sport they want to play, are excellent. On the other hand, show me a kid who lacks the ability to run well, jump, climb, and move from side to side (and actively avoids doing them), and regardless of how much they practice a particular sport, I’ll show you a NON-ATHLETE. Show me a non-athlete and I’ll show you a kid who has very limited athletic potential. Athletes First In other words if you’re a parent or a coach who wants your kids to experience athletic success, help them learn to LOVE running, jumping, climbing, and moving quickly from side to side BEFORE you teach them to block and tackle, BEFORE you teach them to dribble and... read more

I contend that one of the most important lessons any kid can ever learn is what I like to call the “Oh yes I can lesson.” Whether they’re male or female, black, white, yellow, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Asian, European, African, tall, short, rich, poor, or middle class - if kids have the opportunity to develop their natural-born ability to believe in themselves and to relentlessly persist, odds are they’ll learn to succeed, even in the face of life’s most difficult challenges, despite a system that’s specifically designed to relentlessly mass produce infinite waves of mediocrity, homogeneity, predictability, conventionality, and submission the status quo. Show Them How Now you may recognize this as the age old American adage that says “You can grow up to be President.” But if this lesson is not delivered through practical, hands-on experiences (getting down in the mud and wrestling with the beast), it quickly becomes meaningless, adult doubletalk that goes in one ear and out the... read more

$270,000,000,000 annually. Yes, that’s two hundred and seventy BILLION DOLLARS that the Association of Actuaries estimates America spends annually on obesity and related problems – as in every single year. And like obesity itself, that figure is not shrinking. It’s growing! But that’s not all. According to the US Surgeon General statistics confirm that “Obesity America’s number one health threat.” Gleaning from their immense data bases, the Pentagon contends that “Obesity is a national security threat.” Absolutely stunning! Bad New VS Good News OK, that’s the bad news. Here’s the good news. If you’re reading this sentence you’re not a pile of statistics, a median, a set of odds or averages, and neither are your kids or your kid’s friends. In fact personally I’ve never met or shaken hands with a statistic, an odd, or an average. This occasionally causes me question their validity, their legitimacy, their existence, and certainly their power over individual human beings... read more

In the classroom my question is, how would you systematically go about creating a situation in which you’re mathematically guaranteed to have a few really good students at the top, a whole bunch of average students meandering around in the middle, and a handful of losers at the bottom? I suggest that you’d start at a very young age – say kindergarten – and pit all the kids against one another in a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly contest to see who will be the best “teacher pleaser.” You’d give them stars and stickers which eventually turn into grades. You’d organize them into groups so that a few were members of the fast birds at the top, a bunch were members of the average birds in the middle, and a handful were members of the slow birds at the bottom. By the time they’re in third or fourth grade it will become apparent to anyone who’s watching – especially the kids and their parents – that these kids have been systematically labeled (by teachers who are being paid to sort... read more

Winning can become a habit if you’re willing to start right now, (the younger the better) and redefine winning as “Becoming a little stronger today than you were yesterday, a little stronger this week than you were last week, a little stronger this month than last month, and a lot stronger this year than last year.” While you’re at it, redefine losing as “Failing to become stronger day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.” Becoming the Captain of Your Own Ship Under these conditions nobody else controls your opportunities to become a winner or a loser. The cards are all in your hands, and not in the hands of a conventional competitor, a teacher, a coach, a boss, a manager, a drill sergeant, or any other authority figure. You become your own authority figure. You determine whether you’ll develop the habit of winning or the habit of losing. That is to say, nobody can prevent you from becoming habitually stronger. In fact the mere act of taking... read more

Garrison Keillor’s legendary boyhood home of Lake Wobegon, MN is the town in which “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” In contrast, Strongville, IA is the town in which all the women are strong, all the men are strong, all the children are strong, and all its citizens strive to grow stronger week after week, month after month, all year long. More specifically, Strongville is built around the premise that the desire to become stronger (in all kinds of ways) is the natural wellspring of life that must be actively cultivated if its opposites – deterioration, degeneration, and atrophy are to be avoided. In Strongville it’s a matter of honor. It’s a moral obligation, a moral imperative to cultivate one’s own inborn seeds of strength. It’s the source of one’s own self-respect as well as one’s respect among fellow citizens. Failure to do so is seen as undermining oneself, and in the process undermining one’s family, neighborhood,... read more

If you’re a movie buff you know that “method acting” is a technique which requires an actor to actually become (as much as humanly possible) the person that he or she is expecting to portray. It’s an attempt to breathe life into a character. It’s an attempt to make the experience feel real, believable, and convincing. It’s an attempt to cause viewers to temporarily forget the fact that they’re watching an actor performing on stage instead of a real character reacting in the midst of a real, living moment. Clark Gable VS Sean Penn More specifically, there’s a big difference between the great movies of the 40’s and 50’s (It’s a Wonderful Life, Gone With the Wind, or African Queen) and the great movies of today. That difference in large part, is a reflection of how adept modern actors and actresses have become at method acting. But the techniques of method acting extend well beyond the silver screen. Great singers of any era have gone to great lengths to feel every note, every... read more

I have a daughter in her mid 30’s who lives and breathes horses. She makes her living by teaching people and horses to communicate with one another. She’s very good at what she does, so the demand for her services is such that she can charge a pretty good buck in order to serve as a translator between the two. Check it out. Every time I’ve ever watched her teach her students are sitting on the edge of their saddles in order to soak up what my daughter has to teach. This is true because my daughter has a well earned reputation for knowing her stuff when it comes to horses. Requirements for Real Education So in this instance you have a very knowledgeable teacher together with very willing and very interested students. Under these conditions the stage is set for REAL EDUCATION to take place. When it happens, it’s almost magical. And it’s fun/fulfilling for both parties. Nobody is texting a friend, listening to iPod tunes, daydreaming, or being distracted away from what the... read more

Have you ever heard anyone say, “It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it that counts?” As it turns out this phrase is especially true for kids. In that light there are four words you should consider eliminating from your vocabulary when communicating with kids. They include good, bad, right, and wrong. These four words have been so effectively and successfully bastardized by the media that they no longer mean what you intend for them to mean when you’re working with kids. Now, in place of those four words, add two others that not only communicate what you want to communicate, but they motivate and activate all kids in the process. These two words are STRONG, and WEAK. Let me say it this way. There are plenty of kids these days who take great pride in “being bad.” But there’s never been a kid who takes any pride in being weak at anything. Think about it. Every kid on planet Earth wants… even longs to be strong at everything. Yet not even one wants to be weak at... read more

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