by Shelley Murphy
photos by ©Ross Whitaker/TNPF
As the calendar turns to 2015, thoughts turn to shedding old, unhealthy habits and adopting new fitness resolutions for the New Year.
Cindi Juncal, president and founder of The Noble Path Foundation (TNPF), hopes to inspire generations to forgo their traditional New Year’s Day resolutions and choose a lifestyle revolution. Her foundation seeks to shift the attention from an annual day of setting healthy goals to the adopting of a year-round healthy lifestyle.
Juncal established her non-profit foundation in 2012 to unite her two passions: physical fitness and helping kids.
“Our mission is to change the diet and lifestyle habits of our youth, since their health is what determines our future,” Juncal stated. “Statistics show this is the first generation of kids not expected to outlive their parents; diseases once reserved for older people are now affecting younger generations.”
Last spring, TNPF introduced its first 9-week Fitness Challenge at Vista del Mar Middle School to educate adolescents about the benefits of a sound nutrition and exercise program. Once a week during students’ P.E. periods, the Challenge presented activities and assignments aimed to improve overall physical fitness.
“The Challenge was a huge success and the kids’ feedback revealed not only how much they liked the exercises but also how much they learned from the nutritional component of the program,” Surprised by the revelation Juncal said, “It opened our eyes to the need for a further educational focus on the foods they’re eating.”
Armed with research revealing startling nutritional statistics and data from Katie Couric’s documentary Fed Up, Juncal determined what she believes holds the key to improving overall health: combating the sugar epidemic.
“In the last 25-30 years diabetes has risen 700% and the only correlation is the amount of sugar consumption in American diets; every 10 seconds someone dies a diabetes related death,” Juncal revealed.
Declaring war on sugar led Juncal to create an innovative program: The Sugar Shock Challenge™.
“We’re developing a 6-week comprehensive program of nutrition and exercise, with the primary focus simply to adhere to AHA (American Heart Association) and WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines for daily maximum sugar intake,” she commented.
The recommended guidelines for daily maximum sugar consumption are: 12 grams for children, 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men. To caution consumers, she’s shinning a light on the dangers of hidden sugars.
“I don’t think everyone realizes how much sugar they’re eating in what’s generally perceived as healthy food like yogurt and fruit drinks-some can contain more sugar than ice cream,” Juncal explained. “Everything in moderation is fine, but the amount of sugar we are eating is in toxic levels – it’s making us and our children sick.”
Juncal’s quick to add “Much of the fault lies with the Industrialized Global Diet and questionable tactics by our food industry, the combination of the two trigger consumers to crave sugar.”
Instead of making well-meaning resolutions to start the New Year, she suggests a simple solution to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, “I encourage people to monitor their sugar intake by reading labels, learning the various names of hidden sugars, and following the recommended maximum guidelines.”
In addition to eating a well-balanced diet, exercise plays a pivotal role in a healthy lifestyle. “The food you put in your mouth is the most important component by far; the saying, ‘You can’t out train a bad diet’ is very true,” Juncal acknowledged.
“My goal is not to force feed my beliefs but to provide factual forums for people to make educated choices.”
To raise awareness about nutrition and fitness, on March 7, 2015 The Noble Path Foundation hosts a community-wide health and wellness fair at San Clemente High School. The fundraiser features four hours of non-competitive fun, a five mile walk/run, live entertainment, great prizes and surprise twists.
“I invite everyone to join us, and make 2015 the year of the lifestyle revolution by saying no to sugar and yes to a healthy New Year,” said Juncal.