It's My Life PBS Kids Go!

Recently in Health & Body Category

Summer survival help from IML
| No TrackBacks

familyvacations1.gifAh, summer! Time to let loose, have fun, take vacations, hang with friends and family, and generally enjoy life, right? Well, that's what TV commercials would have you believe. Don't get us wrong: summer can be amazing. But not always.

Reading through your Advice questions lately, we're reminded of how certain things can make summer a less-than-carefree season for many tweens. As in:

Moving. Your BFF may be relocating with his or her family to a new state. Or maybe it's you who's headed somewhere new. Summer's a big time for this. It's never fun, but there are ways to deal. Check out IML's advice on what to do When Your Family Moves (there are tips in there for when it's a friend who's moving).

Being home alone. You're on vacation from school for a few months, but your parents probably don't get the same break from work. You may find yourself with a lot more solo time in your home than usual. And maybe that's not always a good thing, if you're bored, scared, lonely, or an alternating pattern of all three. Once again, we suggest a visit to our Home Alone section for help, or even just to sound off on the You Said It page.

Family vacations. Ah, the joy of riding in a car or airplane with your loved ones for hours on end. NOT! And then there's what happens once you get there. In between the Kodak moments, a family trip is not complete without arguments, annoyances, mishaps, and possibly some weird relatives too. And yes, we have advice on how to not just survive, but actually have fun amid all the craziness.

Starting middle school or high school. Many IML'ers have already written in to express their worries about moving up to a new school this fall. It's normal to feel some anxiety, especially if you and your best friends are headed to different places, but there are definitely things you can do now to make the jump easier. Check out our advice on Middle School and High School and you're bound to feel a little better...or at least prepared.

Summer camp. If you're an old pro at summer camp, you're probably counting the days until you leave for this year's session. If this is your first year or you're headed for a new home away from home, that can be a little terrifying. Never fear! IML is here with a whole section on Summer Camp.

The purpose of all this? We just want IML'ers to know that it's okay NOT to feel like every minute of summer is pure, unfiltered joy. It's just a time of year, not a break from real life and all its problems. If it seems like everyone else but you is having a blast...chances are, they're really not. But hopefully, with a little information and problem-solving -- whether you find it here at IML or somewhere else -- you can make the best of whatever the summer has in store for you!
 

Guest Post: Debby Ryan
| No TrackBacks

Radio Rebel DVD box art sm.pngIn the recent Disney Channel Original Movie "Radio Rebel," which is now available on DVD, Debby Ryan plays Shelby, a shy high school student who only finds the courage to speak as her "secret" alter-ego, an underground DJ who inspires her peers to be themselves and break free of pressure and expectations from others. If you haven't seen this flick, we highly recommend it. (The music's great, too!)

We invited Debby to be our guest IML Blogger for the day. She has some amazing insights about celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique. Read this and you'll totally want to hang out with her for a day.

"Be Yourself, Because You Are Beautiful"
 
I think that the most beautiful thing in life is diversity. When you see a light in a dark room, the reason it looks so bright is because everything around it is cloaked in the same dark shadow. On the other hand, a prism or a sunset is often experienced as strikingly beautiful, because each is made up of so MANY colors. If everything everywhere was one color, you wouldn't be able to see just how beautiful things are, and I think that this applies to people, too.
 
debbyryan_radiorebel.jpgIf everyone had the same sense of humor, things just wouldn't be as funny or intriguing. I think that the most beautiful thing about being able to live life is meeting different people in passing, experiencing various personalities, and hearing the stories explaining each individual's preferences and memories. For example, you may agree with someone on your favorite flavor of ice cream, but they might have a completely different reason for making it their number one choice. Maybe someone's favorite flavor is based on a memory of getting ice cream with their family as a kid. Maybe someone else hates mint because it reminds them of toothpaste. I like digging into people's thoughts and ideas; it really gives you an idea of why people are the way that they are!
 
The biggest mistake that we can make is to go through life without ever asking "Why?" I believe that in order to really get the most out of life, we should see and do as many different things as possible. I've always wanted to help support a village in developing countries, and I've been obsessed with India recently. So I went, helped bring big changes and bigger hugs, and before I left, I decided to ride a camel and get henna tattoos all down my arm. From there, I went to Australia on a business trip and took a surf lesson. I'm terrified of the ocean, but I did it! I had these opportunities, and I let myself take them. Different experiences make us into the people we are. I believe we are collages or mosaics, made up of different pieces, textures, and colors. Some qualities and experiences may break us and leave us with rough edges, while others build us up solid and refine us smooth and shiny. All of them come together to create the mosaic of you, and all of them are beautiful.
 
There is no one standard of beauty. I think that each person can have something incredibly unique and beautiful about them that makes them stand apart from all others in the world. Knowing that millions of people that have lived before, and millions of people are currently alive, but there never has been, nor will there ever be, anyone exactly like you, is the most beautiful thing in the world! The more that you are able to embrace that, the more you'll see that the things that you find weird or awkward about yourself, the things that make you stick out or feel like you're strange, are the things that make you different and unique and beautiful. As long as you are working to become the best version of yourself that you can be, always being gracious, and open to learning new things and asking why, you remain beautiful leaving behind a unique footprint on the world. And you have a ton of fun while doing it. Stay beautiful!
 
Radio Rebel believes in the beauty of diversity, so I put together a playlist that showcases a range of genres, lyrics, and artists: classically timeless & ahead of their time, gently reflective & empowered anthemic, chart-toppers & basement-dwellers. These tracks are about youth, individuality, the power of music, and fighting for what you believe in.
 
"Start A Riot" - The Rescues
"Beat The System" - Alyson Stoner
"Bullet Soul" - Switchfoot
"Generation" - States
"Synthesizers" - Butch Walker & The Black Widows
"Coachella" - Brooke Fraser
"Revolution" - The Beatles
"Forest" - Twenty | One | Pilots
"It's Time" - Imagine Dragons
"Free My Mind" - Katie Herzig
"I Can't Hear You" - The Dead Weather
"Youth" - Foxes
 
Change the world... out loud.

Wow. Great playlist. Thanks, Debby!


Meet the "Kids Who Love To Cook"
| No TrackBacks

Recently, we were excited to discover Kids Who Love To Cook, a website and cooking series that takes you into the kitchen with seven real-life kids to show their love of food and to help make cooking exciting for other kids, tweens, and teens, through videos, recipes, tips and advice, food adventures, and contests. Since we're always looking for ways to give IML'ers more Food Smarts, we asked two of the "Kids," 13-year-old Abby and 15-year-old Isabelle, to share a little more about themselves and this very cool project.

IML: Do you remember how you first got interested in cooking?

kidswholovetocook_isabelle.jpgIsabelle: The first time I visited my grandma in Vienna, I fell in love with the pastries there and I wanted to learn how to make them, so I started baking. I was 10 or 11. And my dad is the biggest foodie! He's a walking, multi-city Zagat Guide -- he can tell you where to go if you want to eat a certain type of food or cuisine. My dad's a great cook and I must have gotten it from him.
 
kidswholovetocook_abby.jpgAbby: My dad is Italian and at my grandma's house, they always have big feasts where cooking and eating is an all-day event. I also remember cooking with my dad when I was 5 or 6, I was his little assistant. On my mom's side, she cooked a lot of meals when I was growing up. She was a working mom in the city but she's the type to whip up cream for the apple pie. She didn't like to use canned whipped cream! I love her chocolate pudding, beef stew, and her super-delicious version of General Tso's chicken. Eating all that good food made me interested in cooking.

IML: What was the first dish you made that you were really proud of?

Isabelle: Chocolate Cake! I've been making it since I was 11 and I can make it it with my eyes closed.

Abby: Pancakes from scratch.

IML: Where do you find your favorite recipes?

Isabelle: Online, magazines, and sometimes I watch TV shows and get inspired to cook.

Abby: I like books. I love going to bookstores and I can spend hours in the cookbook section. I also love vintage cookbooks, and I'm starting a collection.

IML: Why do you think it's important for families to cook together?

Isabelle: Cooking is a great way to bond, and then you get to eat together, which is so relaxing and fun. I also get to boss my brothers, because it's usually the other way around!

Abby: Life is so busy for everyone. Cooking with my mom or dad is my alone time with them. We catch up, gossip, joke, and laugh a lot.
 
IML: What's the best thing about making a recipe that's part of a family tradition or culture?

Isabelle: I love the fact that the food we have on the table are family recipes. I feel that I am still connected to the past, to my grandparents, even if they are not in New York.

Abby: It's part of my identity, and a great way to continue family traditions. When I have my own family I can tell my kids, "My mom used to make this chocolate pudding when I was your age." They are beautiful memories and I still feel my mom's love.

IML: What's your favorite quick snack to make when you don't have a lot of time or energy?

Isabelle: I love yogurt with granola.

Abby: Insalata Caprese -- I slice a tomato, some mozzarella, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and if we've got basil I add it too. We usually have tomatoes and mozzarella at home so that's my regular afternoon snack when I come home from school.  Or I put it inside a baguette and make a sandwich of it. I like to eat grapes and cheese too. I love cheese.

IML: What's your advice for young people who want to learn how to cook, but it may be more challenging for them -- like maybe an adult isn't always available to help or they just don't have the time, or it's too hard to get ingredients and tools?

Isabelle & Abby: Watch and learn from videos or cooking shows on TV! Start with simple dishes like Mini Turkey Burgers or Fettuccine Alfredo -- recipes with ingredients that are easily available at the supermarket.

IML: What's the coolest thing you've learned or experienced as part of being on the Kids Who Love To Cook team?

Isabelle: I used to be in a hurry to grow up and turn 16. Now I feel so much more mature, so there's no hurry. I also overcame my dislike of tomatoes (because of a sour tomato incident when I was a kid). I got to taste the most delicious yellow cherry tomatoes from Maine and now I love them!

Abby: Going places -- from Vermont to learn how to make cheese and maple syrup to an urban bee farm in Brooklyn. We go to a lot of interesting places and I get to taste all kinds of food!

You can visit Abby and Isabelle, along with the other awesome Kids Who Love To Cook, at www.kidswholovetocook.com.


Celeb Scoop: Reed Alexander
| No TrackBacks

reedalexander.jpgIf you watch "iCarly," then you know 17-year-old Reed Alexander as Carly's nemesis, Nevel Papperman. But did you know you can find Reed 24/7 in a virtual online kitchen he designed especially for kids and teens?

Reed's website KewlBites.com is his labor of love, filled with recipes, exercise tips, videos, and other information aimed at helping young people discover that a healthy lifestyle is actually doable...and fun. We think it's a pretty cool thing, so we wanted to find out more from Reed himself.

IML: Where did the idea for KewlBites come from?

Reed: A few years ago, I was overweight and always really tired. I didn't have much confidence or energy. I wanted to make a change. I'm a huge foodie and I love cooking shows, and cooking for others has always been a big part of my life. I couldn't really find anything out there from the kids' POV that would have been right for me. I didn't want to join a diet program or something targeted at adults, I wanted a lifestyle thing. So I set out to make my own way. I got outside and made exercise a priority, and I took those traditional kid food classics I loved but lightened them up, morphed them into something I could feel great about. I also have a family history of heart disease and diabetes so I really needed to open my eyes. I ended up losing 15 pounds and people would say, "You really made a change! What's going on?" So that continued to motivate me, and I came up with the idea for KewlBites. I wanted to spackle up the hole I'd found when I was in this position, and provide a resource and a platform for kids and families who are like me. It's been great to hear reactions from different kinds of people!

IML: It does appeal to everyone! We found stuff on there we could use! You mentioned that you've always been a foodie. How did you first get interested in cooking?

Reed: After many years of great get-togethers with my family, as I got older I wanted to have more of a role in the kitchen. Then I'd watch a food show on TV and pick up these really interesting tips. Now, when I'm on the set of "iCarly," we have a great team with a lot of great taste buds. I bring things to the set that I make and I get a lot of feedback from the cast and crew. It's a great way to connect with people. This past Thanksgiving it was so fun to have people over and make a great spread for them, and see their reactions as they grabbed their forks and dived in.

IML: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions young people have about nutrition and eating well and cooking? Why aren't more tweens excited about that?

Reed: I think there's that old idea of, "Oh, we're eating nutritiously tonight, does that means steamed chicken and broccoli?" Healthy doesn't have to be boring in any way. Sometimes it's difficult because we're all so busy that it's sometimes it seems impossible to get a hold of the information and simple knowledge. Cooking is not at all a chore, and I don't think it's something you have to have a natural knack for in order to make something delicious. It's something a lot of us can tune into and enjoy on different levels. There's this notion that in order to feel great about yourself you have to go on a "diet." But that's not true.

IML: When young people want to start making their lifestyle more healthy, it can seem overwhelming, like they have to change everything at once. What would you say is a great first step for someone?

Reed: The name of KewlBites is about that -- you go one bite at a time with this stuff, integrating easy-to-do activities. Maybe it's 20 minutes where you're outside jogging or walking the dog. Then maybe it's a trip to the supermarket; see what's in the fridge and then say, "Hey Mom, take a look at this, I really want to try this."

IML: You mentioned the importance of exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy?

Reed: I'm a huge tennis fan, I've been playing for a couple of years. But you know what I can always turn to if I wake up early and I look at my day and see that it's going to be pretty crammed? I can always get in a walk. Walking is just one of my favorite things to do. It's really cathartic. You only need sneakers! I also love to go for bike rides with my dad, and I love swimming too, especially when it's hot.

IML: What's next for you, acting-wise?

Reed: I'm happy to say that "iCarly" is coming back for a fifth season, and I can't wait to get back on the set. We'll be doing a brand new set of special episodes. I'm working on a brand new show that I'm writing as well, and I can't wait to share that.

IML: On "iCarly," your character Nevel is a little villainy. That seems so out of character since you're clearly a very a sweet guy. What would be your dream role?

Reed: Yeah, I would definitely like to branch out. I have so much fun with the comedy, I'd love to try drama or something with a totally different feel. What's been interesting in Neville's case is that at first glance he is a little bit of a looney, but some interesting sides of him have unfolded over the past few seasons. There are so many different aspects of him and I love to play that.

IML: Thanks for chatting with us, Reed! Good luck with KewlBites and "iCarly" and everything else!

Reed: Thank you!

Here at IML we have our own section on Food Smarts that's also a must-read for anyone wanting to make a change!







Yoga for the "Shanti Generation" (that's you, by the way)
| No TrackBacks

Yoga. Does it make you think of celebrities, hippies, or your mom? Does it bring to mind pretzel-like positions and standing on your head? Does the yoga stereotype of thin and super-attractive, healthy-looking people make you think there's no way you could "qualify" to do it too?

shanti-generation-yoga-skills-for-youth-peacemakers-abby-dvd-cover-art.jpgIf that's the case, you could be missing out on a great activity that makes a big difference in your life...or at least is a lot of fun. We've always been a fan of yoga here at IML, and included it in our section on great "Solo Sports." A new DVD called "Shanti Generation: Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers" aims to get that message across, helping tweens and teens discover

"Shanti Generation" is organized into different yoga sequences, breathing techniques, and meditations that are perfect for beginners, and lets you focus on certain skills each time. We loved that the DVD doesn't talk down to tweens, and especially liked the "Meet the Peacemakers" section where the young people featured on the DVD share what they love about yoga (see video below!).

We asked Abby Wills, a yoga educator and the creator/host of "Shanti Generation," to tell us more about why yoga might be something IML'ers should check out.

IML: When did you first start practicing yoga, and what difference did it make in your life at the time?

member-abby-wills.pngAbby: I started practicing in my late teens and it really improved my overall quality life. Yoga helped me find my way through a challenging time and cope with depression. Through my practice, I found a way to see my life as a treasure!

IML: What are some of the preconceived notions and stereotypes that tweens have about yoga? How can they get past them?

Abby: Sometimes tweens and teens think they need to already be a certain way to try yoga. For example, tweens might say "I'm not flexible enough." Or, "I'm not fit enough." Or, "I don't have enough concentration." What may surprise people is that anyone can participate in yoga and however you are right now is the perfect place to begin. I think the only way to get past preconceived notions and stereotypes is to give yoga a try and have your own experience.

IML: Why do you think yoga can be especially beneficial to tweens?

Abby: Between academics, sports, chores, friends and family, tweens lead super-busy, full lives. A lot of people don't get enough sleep, either, so they can get fatigued in all the whirlwind. Yoga is a way to relax and rejuvenate your energy in a short amount of time. And, it's free! Costs less than energy drinks and it actually works!

IML: What would you say to a young person who tells you he or she can't practice yoga because they're overweight, out of shape, bad at concentrating, has poor flexibility -- or any one of a ton of other excuses out there?

Abby: I would say, those are all PERFECT reasons to practice yoga! Yoga can help you with weight management, fitness, flexibility and strength. Practicing yoga most certainly helps to build concentration, too.

IML: You're on the faculty of two schools. How cool is that! Is yoga part of the curriculum there?

Abby: Yes, yoga is part of the curriculum and it's also part of the culture at the schools where I teach. Yoga is one of the ways students and teachers take care of ourselves and one another. We do lots of group and partner exercises in yoga that give us all a chance to connect to one another in a peaceful way. Yoga practice in the curriculum gives an opportunity to be mindful of our own state of mind. This mindfulness helps is every other part of school, from academics to peer relationships.

IML: What would you like the "Shanti Generation" to get out of this DVD?
 
Abby: Empowerment that your choices MATTER. How you live your live is the most powerful choice you have. No one can take away your power to choose how you want to be. Yoga skills are tools that help you become the healthiest self you can be. When you feel healthy and empowered, it's easy to be yourself and have a positive impact on your world. Peace!

IML: Peace to you too, Abby! Thanks for helping introduce yoga to a new generation.

To learn more about the Shanti Generation, visit www.shantigeneration.com.





What it's like to be a tween living with illness
| No TrackBacks

girl_with_inhaler.jpgOne of the things we've noticed IML'ers talking about from time to time is the topic of living with an illness or medical condition.  Life is hard enough when you're a tween, but when you also have to deal with medication, missing school, procedures, doctors, hospitals, and general feeling-crumminess...UGH! Whether it's something like allergies or asthma, to more serious stuff like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, to situations that require surgery or actually threaten one's life, illness can really change things for a young person and everyone around them.

Maybe you know someone -- a friend, a neighbor, a classmate -- who has some kind of ongoing medical issue and would like to understand what they're going through, but are afraid to ask questions. We were curious too, so we invited one IML'er, Danielle, age 13, to share a bit about her experiences.

IML: How old were you when you first became ill?

Danielle: I was born with congenital heart defects, which means the defects in my heart have been there since before I was even born. I was also born with a rare condition called Heterotaxy Syndrome. The chances of getting it are four in a million! Because of Heterotaxy Syndrome, I don't have a spleen, so I get sick easily.

IML: What was the scariest thing about your treatment? How have you learned to deal with the various procedures and other headaches that are part of it?

Danielle: I think the scariest thing about treatments is how much it will hurt or how long it will take to recover, or if I'm going to be in the hospital. I guess the best way to deal with the treatments, shots, blood draws, doctors appointments and other stuff is to just be brave about them, and they'll be over soon.

IML: Have you ever had to stay in the hospital for a long time?

Danielle: I have had to stay in the hospital quite a bit before. When you're in the hospital time moves a lot slower. And there is only so much TV you can watch before you're bored. So I normally colored (when I was younger) or I was usually at a children's hospital so I would go to the playroom and do arts and crafts and play with the toys in there. But luckily I haven't been in the hospital in almost three years!

IML: Do you take medication?

Danielle: I do take medication, twice a day. The most challenging part about it is just trying to remember to take it! When I don't take it, it could mean more blood draws (more than just the regular once a month) or another stay in the hospital (if I miss too much).

IML: Is there anything you have to miss out on because of your illness?

Danielle: Because of my medication (and pacemaker) I can't play sports, ride a bike, or even play a game of frisbee. I love vegetables, but I can only eat green veggies three times a week because it will mess with my medicine.

IML: What about friends -- have you had trouble making and keeping close friends? How do they handle your illness and treatments?

Danielle: I don't have trouble making friends or keeping them close, but I don't really talk about it with them.

IML: Do you feel like you've been able to have a normal life despite living with illness?

Danielle: For the most part, yes, I do feel like I have a normal life. I can't go out and play soccer with my friends or I haven't been able to go to camp with them, but I have slumber parties on the weekends. I'm in my school's yearbook class, I do Builder's Club and all sorts of other things.

What about you? Do you have a similar experience to share on our new Living With An Illness You Said It page? You can also talk about how you can help When A Friend Is Ill.


Best Bones Forever! Let's Dance Contest
| No TrackBacks

soccerplayer.jpgWe talk about a lot of "body" related topics on IML: puberty, food smarts, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and sports. We've covered a decent amount of ground there, but one area we haven't covered yet is Bone Health. Sound boring? Doesn't have to be!

It's hard to care about a part of your body that you don't see. But building strong and flexible bones when you're a tween is super-important and sets you up for overall general health and fitness for the rest of your life. Eating foods with lots of calcium and Vitamin D, along with bone-strengthening physical activity, will do the trick.

A new U.S. government-sponsored campaign called Best Bones Forever aims to get tween girls in the know about bone health and how easily they can get it. One great bone-strengthening activity that you might do all the time: dancing. The campaign has teamed up with the pop group Savvy to run a contest called Let's Dance. It's open to girls ages 9 to 14 and offers the chance to appear in a Savvy music video!

We urge IML'ers to check out these links, learn about bone health, and spread the word. Someday, when your grandchildren ask you how you manage to be so old and still so strong and active, you can pass on the advice to them too...

  
Shape-ups...or ship out?
| No TrackBacks

eatdisorders1.gifHave you seen the TV commercial for Skechers Shape-ups for girls? The one where an animated rock band sings about "Heidi" having "everything a girl wants" in her new Shape-ups, with a backup chorus that sounds a lot like a teasing "nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah" and boys running around dressed as junk food?

What did you think when you first saw it? (And if you haven't, go watch it on YouTube. We can't, and won't, post it here.) Parents are in an uproar over this ad campaign, because Shape-ups are shoes that promise to help grown women tone their legs, lose weight, and generally get fit (which is widely doubted at this point). These parents think the fact that blinged-out versions of the sneakers are now being marketed to tween girls is, well...really disturbing. And we agree.

The president of Skechers says that Shape-ups are just aimed at encouraging girls to be more athletic and active. Do you buy it? Are parents overreacting? Do you feel that the company is just trying to take advantage of girls' natural self-esteem issues to sell sneakers? Are there hidden and not-so-hidden messages in this TV commercial?

We want to know! Tell us your thoughts on our Media Pressure YSI page.

Now that it's spring and swimsuit season may be tempting you to try to "look your best," check out the IML section on Eating Disorders. Even if you don't feel you'd ever be in danger of having an eating disorder, it's helpful to understand the reasons why some people struggle with them.

We also love visiting our friends at Don't Buy It, who have some great info on how to see through media and advertising messages and actually -- gasp! -- make consumer decisions for ourselves.

 
Meet tween outdoor adventurer Matt Moniz
| No TrackBacks

Thumbnail image for matt-moniz.jpgAt the IML Blog, we love discovering tweens who are out there doing something a little unique...something cool and challenging and inspiring. Like 12-year-old mountain climber Matt Moniz, who spent last summer on a trek with his dad to climb the highest peak in all 50 U.S. states in 50 days.

Since then, Matt has become dedicated to encouraging other young people to get outdoors, explore, be active, have fun, and possibly amaze themselves. He recently shared his experiences and advice with IML.

IML: When did you start mountain climbing, and how did you learn "the ropes"?

Matt: I started climbing big mountains when I was nine. My first major expedition was a trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Along the way, in addition to seeing awesome mountains like Ama Dablam and of course Mount Everest, I visited amazing monasteries and the Sherpa Hillary School.

I developed a lot of my core alpine skills while climbing mountains and learning from guides and Sherpas. Last spring I spent my break taking a six-day mountaineering course in Alaska. That helped me prepare for the challenges of climbing Denali this past summer.

IML: How did you and your dad come up with the idea for the 50-state expedition?

Matt: We both really enjoyed traveling around the world climbing peaks in Russia (Mt. Elbrus), Tanzania (Mt. Kilimanjaro) and Argentina (Cerro Aconcagua). In 2009 we were thinking that it would be fun to explore our backyard here in Colorado. Colorado has many high-peaks, known as the 14ers because they are at least fourteen thousand feet high. Out of that came the idea for the "14 Fourteeners in 14 Days Expedition" to raise awareness for a rare disease my best friend Iain has called Pulmonary Hypertension.

The climb was a success.  We were able to climb them all in just eight days and we raised over $20,000 for the PAH fund and awareness! So to continue the theme of exploring the world we decided to attempt all fifty state high points in fifty days, "50 States, 50 Peaks, 50 Days Expedition". Again, we were successful and completed the journey in 43 days setting the new world speed record.

IML: You and your dad spent a lot of quality time together during this adventure! What was that like? Did you get along?

Matt: I loved spending time in the mountains with my dad. We always bring out the best in each other. It would be hard for some kids to imagine that we got along great after spending so much time together in tents, on trails, sitting in the van and airplanes -- but we did!

Maybe the reason why we did do so well together is that we relied on each other on the climbs. A good example of that was one time on Denali, my father lost his footing while descending the steep headwall above basecamp. He was connected to me by a rope, and I remember just immediately dropping down and planting my ice axe in the snow and stopping his slide. All my training and experience just kicked in without ever thinking about the situation. Reflecting on my journey this summer with my dad, I think how lucky I am to spend so much time together and I know that if we can overcome these extreme challenges together, there is no mountain too high.

IML: We would imagine that reaching the summit is the most rewarding part of a climb. But were there moments on the way up or down that were also rewarding?

mattmoniz2.jpgMatt: Sure, we had many wonderful moments along the way to and from the summits, like lying out in my sleeping bag gazing at awesome night skies with millions of stars. Glissading, or sliding on your rear down steep snowy slope, was also really a blast. Maybe the most rewarding was all the wonderful people we met along the way who shared stories about their home state and lives that really made the expedition more interesting.  

IML: It sounds like you did a lot of your 50 state climbs pretty fast, without much rest before or after. How do you fuel up your body for maximum energy when you're going to do something physically tough?

Matt: Eating in the cold and at high altitude can be kind of a challenge. It's not much fun trying to chew a frozen candy bar when you're cold and don't have much of an appetite. I tried to find foods that I knew I would like no matter what the conditions. My favorites were potato chips, salami, hot chocolate, chicken and pita bread and of course candy bars. Between climbs I would try to eat as much as I could. One time before climbing Kings' Peak in Utah, I ate a steak that was almost as big as me!

IML: Visiting a lot of different states in a short period of time must have been eye-opening! What was the most surprising thing you discovered about a state? What was the funniest?

Matt: I never really expected that the Texas highpoint would be that interesting. I was wrong! At almost nine thousand feet in elevation Guadalupe Peak was incredible. Rising above the plains the mountain has ominous share granite walls and is covered in nearly five hundred different species of plants. The coolest is the brilliant red-barked madrone tree that looks like it is from another planet.

Funniest was driving through Pigeon Forge, Tennessee after climbing Clingman's Dome and seeing so many tourist attractions including the Titanic Museum, which has a gigantic replica ship complete with water splashing on the bow that looks so real you think it is going to come crashing across the road!

IML: Tell us about the organization Outdoor Nation. How can other kids get involved?

Matt: Outdoor Nation is about getting young people outdoors and, most importantly, that they learn how they can help protect our public lands and ensure recreation access for generations of kids to come. Just like other kids, I love watching movies and playing video games, but we need to be careful that we don't spend too much time in front of screens - it's easy to do, especially with all the great games and shows available. So get outside and ski, bike, hike, skate, play or do whatever makes you happy - you'll have a blast and feel better than sitting around in the house. You can join Outdoor Nation by going to www.outdoornation.org.

IML: What's your advice for kids who would like to get outdoors but don't have the access, the training, or the gear? What are some easy ways to just get and stay active, especially in the winter?

Matt: Good question! First bit of advice is just to get outside, look around and explore your neighborhood and local parks. During the winter I like to find projects to do outside like making a snow fort or building a ski jump to practice tricks. To keep things interesting, I like to go for a swim at the pool or climb indoors at our local rock gym. The important thing is to have fun, be active and appreciate how lucky we are to have so many parks and recreation choices.
 
A fun way to keep it interesting is with a little gizmo called a GeoPalz, a pedometer and website that keep track of how much you walk. The more you walk the more points you earn that you can exchange for fun prizes! You can combine the GeoPalz with hikes and new sports like geo-caching which is where you use a GPS to play a game of "high-tech hide and seek" outdoors. I took one with me during my climbs and it was really fun to see how many steps I was taking to climb the peaks!
 
I'd just like to say to other kids that you don't need to climb a mountain to have fun (although you certainly can). There are so many opportunities to find your passion for outdoor sports. Non-profit organizations are all over the country that can help introduce you to new ways to have fun and excitement in the outdoors. A few cool groups are Big City Mountaineers, The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, but you can do your own research, I'm sure you'll find many options. Reading tales of high adventure can spark you into action as well -- my favorite book is "No Short Cuts to the Top" by Ed Viesturs.

IML: Thanks, Matt! And good luck with your next adventure!

Matt:
Thanks!


 
Advice for Summer Stress
| No TrackBacks

What? "Summer Stress?" How can there BE such a thing?

familyvacations1.gifSummer's supposed to be a time to let loose, have fun, take vacations, hang with friends and family, and generally enjoy life, right? Well, yeah. That's what the TV commercials will have you believe. But it's not always like that, is it?

Reading through your Advice questions lately, we're reminded of how some things can make summer a less than carefree season for many tweens. You know, things like:

Moving. Your BFF may be relocating with his or her family to a new state. Or maybe it's you who's headed somewhere new. Summer's a big time for this. It's never fun, but there are ways to deal. Check out IML's advice on what to do When Your Family Moves (there are tips in there for when it's a friend who's moving).

Being home alone. You're on vacation from school for a few months, but your parents probably don't get the same break from work. You may find yourself with a lot more solo time in your home than usual. And maybe that's not always a good thing, if you're bored, scared, lonely, or an alternating pattern of all three. Once again, we suggest a visit to our Home Alone section for help, or even just to sound off on the You Said It page.

Family vacations. Ah, the joy of riding in a car or airplane with your loved ones for hours on end. NOT! And then there's what happens once you get there. In between the Kodak moments, a family trip is not complete without arguments, annoyances, mishaps, and possibly some weird relatives too. And yes, we have advice on how to not just survive, but actually have fun amid all the craziness.

Starting middle school or high school. Many IML'ers have already written in to express their worries about moving up to a new school this fall. It's normal to feel some anxiety, especially if you and your best friends are headed to different places, but there are definitely things you can do now to make the jump easier. Check out our advice on Middle School and High School and you're bound to feel a little better...or at least prepared.

Summer camp. If you're an old pro at summer camp, you're probably counting the days until you leave for this year's session. If this is your first year or you're headed for a new home away from home, that can be a little terrifying. Never fear! IML is here with a whole section on Summer Camp.

The purpose of all this? We just want IML'ers to know that it's okay NOT to feel like every minute of summer is pure, unfiltered joy. It's just a time of year, not a break from real life and all its problems. If it seems like everyone else but you is having a blast...chances are, they're really not. But hopefully, with a little information and problem-solving -- whether you find it here at IML or somewhere else -- you can make the best of whatever the summer has in store for you!