Healthy Eating Plate Is a Better Version of MyPlate and the Food Pyramid

The MyPlate Graphic
The Older "MyPlate" Graphic

Back in June 2011, The U.S. government unveiled the “MyPlate” diagram, intended to give Americans a visual reminder for the proportions of the different components needed for healthy eating. It was an upgrade from the previous MyPyramid diagram that wasn’t particularly successful. The MyPlate diagram was a representation of what people will actually see when they sit down for a meal.

Unfortunately, the “MyPlate” icon was just a diagram and doesn’t provide much written information. So, a group of colleagues at the Harvard Health Publications and the Harvard School of Public Health got together to create an improved version. They call it the “Healthy Eating Plate.”

The Healthy Eating Plate
The "Healthy Eating Plate" Diagram

As with the “MyPlate” graphic, the “Healthy Eating Plate” provides a graphic version of a dinner plate, and shows the relative proportions of the different components of a healthy meal. However, it goes one step further and adds practical information relevant to each of those components. For example, beside the “Fruits” portion, it adds the note: “Eat plenty of fruits of all colors.”

You can download a free printable version of the “Healthy Eating Plate” at the Harvard Health Blog at:

If you’re looking for a good printable diagram for the nutrition component of your health classes, this is a great resource.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]Healthy Eating Plate,MyPlate,nutrition,diet,nutrition aids,nutrition graphics>[/tags]

Ellen’s Dance Dare Shows the Value of Chasing Your Dreams

Ellen's Dance Dare

This topic might seem like a bit of a stretch for a physical education blog, but, well…it does involve a varsity runner, dancing and goal-setting. It’s inspirational. And besides, it’s hilarious.

One of my university runners, Jenna Thornber, has, for over a year, had the goal of winning an invitation to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Ellen includes dancing in many of her segments, and Jenna thought she’d attract Ellen’s attention by posting YouTube videos of herself dancing in strange situations. So, she posted videos in which she danced in a downtown shopping mall, in the middle of the busiest intersection in Toronto, in a university lecture hall (during a lecture), and more.

I think many people thought it was just a joke and didn’t take Jenna seriously. After all, a girl from a small town in Ontario appearing on the Ellen Show? Impossible.

But, in January 2012, Ellen announced an official dance video contest to win an appearance on her show. The contest, called Ellen’s Dance Dare, involved videos in which the contestants must dance behind unsuspecting people. For Jenna, it was a situation where preparation meets motivation meets opportunity.

So, having several video productions under her belt, Jenna went to work and created a dancing video masterpiece. A student at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Jenna had the perfect venue for ambush-dancing. Her video showed her dancing behind a professor during a lecture, behind an unsuspecting student at a urinal, popping from a laundromat dryer, squirm-dancing beneath a bench-presser, and much more!

And guess what. – on Thursday February 2nd, two clips from Jenna’s video appeared on the Ellen Show. One clip showed her peaking around the corner of a public bathroom then dancing behind a student at a urinal – it received the biggest laughs of all the contestant clips that were featured. The other clip showed her dancing behind a diver on a high tower.

She shared the episode with First Lady, Michelle Obama, who I assume watched the Jenna’s video along with Ellen and millions of viewers.

Getting noticed by Ellen is the first step. The final step is to win the contest and a flight to California to meet Ellen on-air. Having seen a number of the other contestant videos, Jenna’s blows them out of the water!

Here’s the video – just don’t watch it at work – every time I see it , I end up laughing out loud.

And here’s the video of the Ellen segment with Jenna’s clips in it. Go to 5:40 to see the start of the segment.

The moral of the story? Chase your dreams!!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,Ellen's Dance Dare, Jenna Thornber,Jenna Thornber's Video,Ellen DeGeneres Show>[/tags]

Ball Girl Uses Parkour Skills to Make a Spectacular Catch

On April 25, 2011, we posted a blog about how you can develop parker skills in your gymnastics unit. Well, here’s video that shows a real-life way to apply those Spiderman-like parkour skills. The video show a ball girl at a Triple A baseball game against Fresno and Tacoma, showing up the outfielder by jumping up a wall to retrieve a foul ball.

I love the way she nonchalantly tosses the ball to outfielder, Jake Wall, then trots back to her chair, tipping her hat and calmly acknowledging the crowd.

But Actually…..

In fact, the catch was really made, as was the jump, which due to her parkour skills was incredibly high. However, the situation was actually staged. The footage was intended to be part of an advertisement for Gatorade and the video of the catch was clipped into actual game footage. While the advertisement never received airplay, the video was posted on the internet where it’s become a sensation. It has received 3.7 million views so far.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]parkour,baseball catch,ball girl>[/tags]

“Get Active” Videos – Keep Kids Active Over the Holidays

With the holidays approaching, a question many parents are asking themselves is, “How can I keep your children active when they are home from school?” It’s a good question for physical education teachers too.

You can help by making your students aware of the following website. it provides a ten-week series of video exercises to correspond with the Get Active! program.

This series was produced by Katina Taylor, Vice President of the Jason Taylor Foundation, in partnership with the Strong Women, Strong Girls program, Strong Women, Strong Girls is a nationally recognized mentoring program dedicated to raising the aspirations and self-esteem of elementary school girls. The program connects girls with college women and puts them on the path from the classroom to the boardroom—or any other path they choose to take. Since the start of the program, 10,000 girls have participated!

But there’s no need to participate on this program to advise your students to use these videos. You can find the video series here:

Here’s the first video in the series:



Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,kids fitness videos,children's fitness videos,fitness videos,holiday fitness>[/tags]

How Norman Harris Wrote “He Called on it All”


In our blog posting of May 24, 2011, (“He Called On It All” – A Motivational Video for Track Athletes) I provided a video showing Dave Wottle’s dramatic come-from-behind finish in the 1972 Olympic 800 meter final. The video concludes with a quote by Norman Harris – a description of New Zealand miler Jack Lovelocks’s finishing kick to win the 1936 Olympic 1500m in Berlin.

“It came like electricity, it came from every fibre, from his fingertips to his toes.
“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”.
He called on it all.”

After the blog was posted, Norman Harris, the writer of that dramatic passage, wrote me with a correction on the exact wording of his contribution that was, in fact, from his biography of Jack Lovelock titled, “The Legend of Lovelock” (1964).

In our subsequent discussions, Mr. Harris described some of the process and inspiration that allowed him to write those wonderful words – in my opinion, some of the most powerful in the history of running literature. I thought you’d be interested in reading about it.

The following comes from his memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens (I don’t think it’s available in the US, although it may be available through Amazon, UK). I’ll let Norman Harris take over from here.

“I guess there was an element of inspiration in those words. I had been writing the book in a cafe in a Paris suburb, where I’d shared lodging with some cycling friends. In a recent Memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens”, I recounted the romantic influences on the passage in question. It’s self-indulgent of me to quote it but, encouraged by what you said about getting the blood pulsing, I figured you might be interested

The Lovelock draft moved steadily towards its climax, a chapter titled The Ultimate, for which special inspiration was required. The portable typewriter in my room at the [Cafe] Zanzi was no longer good enough. I needed to go with exercise book and pencil to the Parc de St Cloud, where, near to a splendid fountain, I found a perch on a grand piece of white, marble-like statuary. It was there, with an apron of white, crushed stone surrounding my seat, and with the park’s heavenly grasses rippling in the breeze, and the late afternoon sun aglow, that I found the words to bring Lovelock home.”

I’ve attached the video one more time, for those of who missed it.




Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,Jack Lovelock,Norman Harris,track and field,800m,Dave Wottle, Nick Symmonds[/tags]

Obesity, Hunger, Inactivity and the Search for Hidden Answers

Hi Readers,

I just received this email from long-time reader and physical educator, David Flax of South Africa. It raises some interesting questions about our perception of the causes of obesity, hunger and lack of activity.


“Hi Dick,

This is the newsletter written by the Principal of our High School… It is what Prof Tim Noakes had to say. Tim is the leading sports scientist in S.A. and the author of The Lore of Running. A kitkat is the name of a chocolate bar that we have. At most road races the participants are given a goodie bag with wine gums and a kitkat.

If you want to use it you are most welcome to it….Keep well



“Dear King David Community,

Boy Eating CandyThis week 250 school leaders, representatives from over 600 independent schools in this country and some from Australia and the UK, collected in Cape Town at the annual SAHISA conference to compare notes – in both formal and informal forums – on educational best practice. As is often the case, some of the most helpful discussions happened at mealtimes or in the bar before and after meals…

Many of the talks were inspiring, some challenging and I am happy to say that some of them very affirming. One, however, in particular is worth mentioning. It was delivered by professor Tim Noakes, Head of the UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit and involved a book published in the early 1860s by a very fat undertaker, William Banting. (Banting’s information came from a certain Dr Willian Harvey, who in turn got his ideas from a Parisian, Dr Bernard.) This was the first recorded modern publication to do with a diet based on limiting the intake of refined, easily digestible carbohydrates.

At one point Tim Noakes held up the contents of the little goodie bag we had been presented at the beginning of the conference: a bag of wine gums and a kitkat, simple carbohydrates which he informed us would have so spiked our insulin and disrupted healthy nutrition that we would almost certainly notice a change in our energy absorption and our vitality for the rest of the day. Should we eat that amount of useless calories – he informed us – we could expect to increase our BMI significantly and experience a expansion of our mass by as much as 5kg in three months – just from consuming these two items every day. (I felt chastened – I had eaten the Kitkat before I got to the top of the stairs and the wine gums long before I eventually found my room.)

The really interesting part of Prof Noakes’s discussion though, was to do with the counter-intuitive notion that if insulin production results in one’s body storing as fat the energy presented as simple carbohydrates, the body would not then release this stored energy. This person would then be stimulated to feel hungry – since not enough energy was released. And also because the body was in conservation mode, there would be a significant drop in the fat person’s willingness to participate in physical activity.

Noakes’s point is that fatness causes hunger and lack of activity – and I had always believed that the causal links worked in the opposite direction: that one was fat because one ate too much and exercised too little. Surely this was as obvious as night following day?

On how many occasions did I hear my white-eye browed colleague tell all his pupils that we were lazy or stupid or incompetent, that we just could not…? I now know that he may have often been right, but I also know that he (and many others of his generation) was very often wrong and that he did a great deal of damage to many pupils.

From Noakes’s argument it is no great leap to question our educational models, to re-evaluate how learning happens and to think about what it is that makes a child a happy and successful pupil and a school leaver who takes on the world believing that she can.

There are so many occasions when the obvious and apparent answers not always the correct ones and that as parents and teachers, our job is sometimes think like fat undertakers and to look for processes and functions that are far from the evident. This may be to do with learning styles, recognizing different intelligences in children, helping children to plan or, as in my daughter’s case, simply to stop procrastinating for fear of failure and to get on with the job at hand.”



Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,obesity,childhood obesity,inactivity,exercise/code>[/tags]