Weight Loss Champion Shares 6 Tips to Get Healthy

When Alex Mastrean realized he was living within the limits of this weight, nearly 300 pounds at 21 years old, he knew it was time to make a change. Though it would be hard work, he was convinced the effort would pay off. Four years later, Alex has lost 100 pounds, is a featured competitor by Tough Mudder, and is pursuing a degree in Astrophysics at Arizona State University. Alex knows that weight loss transforms so much more than your body— it empowers you to live life to the fullest.

Alex before after

Check out Alex’s six tips to get on the road towards a healthy lifestyle, and stay on it!

  1. Seek motivation.
    “I lived my life within limits. It held me back from going out with friends and finding a girlfriend. I felt
    [being overweight] barred me from things, held me back from living life the fullest, it made me live within the limits of my weight. I was constantly lonely and angry. Losing weight seemed like such a big task ahead of me; I didn’t think I could get out. I got sick of being rejected by girls when I would ask them out. One day I realized I couldn’t go on like that. You are only young so long and if you truly want to experience life, you can’t experience life if you’re overweight. I had limitations from myself but also outside limitations… I couldn’t go skydiving or ziplining at my weight. I was sick of limitations, sick of the anger, and decided to make a change.”
  2. Start small.
    “I started lifting weights. I couldn’t do cardio… it was too painful. I found something I enjoyed doing, weight lifting, and forced myself to do it even the days I didn’t want to. I would tell myself ‘just put in 30 minutes’ and found myself staying for the full hour. Slowly, I changed my diet, drank more water, and drank less soda.”
  3. Set a goal.
    “Every time I consume anything, I think about my end goal and ask, ‘Is this going to get me to my end goal? Am I going to have to put in an extra two hours at the gym to reverse the effects of this?’ Days you want to cheat, pick a healthier alternative like frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and keep the portion small.”
  4. Stop making excuses.
    “Everyone being positive and encouraging is good, but the reason we’re so heavy is because we keep making excuses. Stop telling yourself you can’t and convincing yourself why you can’t.”
  5. Don’t let short-term setbacks discourage you from long-term goals.
    “[Losing weight] was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. The first week or two were horrible; I wasn’t used to it. I was sore from working out. I didn’t feel like I was eating the foods I wanted to. But then I started getting compliments. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not losing weight on the scale, you might be losing body fat. You can be a leaner, healthier you.”
  6. Keep your eyes on the prize.
    “My biggest accomplishment was finishing my first Tough Mudder. Crossing the finish line made it worth it. The days of dieting and hours in the gym were all worth it, knowing I completed such a tough event. My next goal is to complete the World’s Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour circuit of the Tough Mudder course. After that, I want to complete a full Ironman.”

Living life unrestricted is awesome!


For more tips and ideas on staying healthy, follow Healthy LifeStars on Facebook and Twitter!

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:26-07:00 August 26th, 2015|Blog|2 Comments

Obesity and the Brain

Childhood obesity is significantly rising in children and adolescents. Obesity not only has immediate and long-term effects on the body, but also the brain. The brain is more powerful, complex and clever than a computer! It is also the fattest organ in our bodies, consisting of 60% fat.

Information from the Brain Resource International Database, suggests obesity reduces the brain’s white matter, thus affecting the brain’s ability to relay signals throughout different parts of the brain. Obesity reduces the brain size in several areas important for executive functioning, such as attention, memory, and processing speed.

A study published in Cerebral Cortex found that overweight children are slower to recognize when they have made an error and correct it. The brain’s ability to quickly react and remember is impacted, and in academics, this limits the child’s abilities.


According to Dr. Joseph Mercola of www.mercola.com, there are nine essential tips to keep your brain healthy:

  1. Get Your Omega-3 Fats – Increases the growth of neurons in the frontal part of the brain.
  2. Exercise – Encourages connections and strength of nerve cells.
  3. Sleep Well – Mental energy is restored.
  4. Eat Healthy Foods – Protein is the main fuel for the brain. Limiting sugar and adding fresh vegetables are important.
  5. Get Some Sunshine– Vitamin D helps the brain’s detoxification process. For children, it is essential in protecting the brain from cognitive problems, such as autism (this shouldn’t be hard living in AZ).
  6. Turn Off the TV – Watching TV can impair social development, speech and brain chemistry.
  7. Use Speakerphone – There is a greater risk of a tumor on the auditory nerve on your head where your phone is held most frequently.
  8. Challenge Your Brain – Exercise the brain through mind-training exercises such as crossword puzzles and board games.
  9. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners and Additives – These foods can damage the brain by inhibiting enzymes in the brain to function properly.

These seven foods can help kids stay sharp and boost the brain’s function:

  1. Apples and Plums
  2. Oatmeal (add cinnamon to protect brain cells)
  3. Nuts and Seeds
  4. Eggs
  5. Greek Yogurt
  6. Greens
  7. Fish

The effects of high body fat on the brain triggers a chain of events. Getting rid of body fat is ideal and can reverse some of the effects, leading to a smarter, more active brain!

So let’s get our brains healthy! Take the Food for the Brain Child Health and Diet Questionnaire to optimize your child’s diet and brain!

For more information on STEP UP 4 KiDS, please email info@stepup4kids.com

Tell us: How do you maintain a healthy brain for your child?

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:26-07:00 August 19th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Kassidy & Kaprice

What does a typical 13-year-old do all summer?

If you ask most 13-year-olds what they want to do all summer, you’d probably get answers like: sleep, play video games, sleep, hang out, sleep, go to the movies, visit the waterpark, and sleep again. Sound familiar? Well let me introduce you to Kaprice and Kassidy, 13-year-old twin sisters who break the mold.

What does a “typical” day look like for these Smith Junior High gals? Take a look at their summer schedule:


Kassidy & Kaprice’s Summer Schedule

So what motivates these girls? Why is it so important for them to be active?
Let’s take a step back to see where and when it all started… back to 3rd grade at Brinton Elementary.

“Eating right and exercising wasn’t always a cup of tea for my sister and I,” Kassidy explained. “We were both overweight and struggling with being active. We would just eat pretty much whatever without even thinking about it.”

Once they realized how unhealthy their lives were, they knew they had to make some important decisions. So what did these 8-year-olds do?

“At restaurants we changed our orders completely,” Kassidy said. “We ended up feeling and looking better in the end. Sometimes, it was difficult, but all the struggling paid off.”

That’s also when they discovered their love for running. Despite being too young to join their school’s running program, their enthusiasm convinced the coach, Mrs. Przeor, to let them join.

“My sister and I both run for a career, hobby, and for plain out fun, but we don’t just do running,” Kassidy said.

The two have kept running since.


Kassidy (left) and Kaprice (right) showing off their many medals.

Not only do they regularly participate in 5km, 10km and half-marathons, but they also play soccer, softball, basketball, and run cross country.

What fuels this constant desire?

“Keep in mind to try new things, because the worst thing that could happen is you not liking it and it’s not something that is fun for you to do, but at least you tried it out,” Kassidy said.

Staying fit and healthy are important parts of their daily routine, just as important as taking care of the dogs and their other chores. But Kassidy and Kaprice do not view staying fit as a “chore.” Constantly setting and reaching goals are what they strive for. They have an amazing “can do” attitude that permeates throughout everything they do. The girls have absolutely no fear of failing.

“Reach out to the world and set a goal for yourself,” Kassidy explained. “No one can stop you from reaching that goal other than you.”

Aside from being healthy and active 13-year-old girls, Kassidy and Kaprice set personal goals that go beyond the fitness realm.

“Our personal goal that has nothing to do with sports and activity is to always be good people. Help others, love others and be kind.”


Kids – Tell us, how do you stay active over summer vacation?
Parents – How do you motivate your kids to get up and get moving?

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:26-07:00 August 12th, 2015|Blog|2 Comments

AZ’s own Dr. Goofy Gettwell’s tips for beating childhood obesity

Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years in the United States. In 1980, only 7% of children ages 6-11 were considered obese. That number rose to nearly 18% in 2012. For adolescents (ages 12-19) the numbers are even more alarming, moving from 5% to 21% over the same time period. Ask any expert why the increase has taken place and you’ll get the same answer: too many calories consumed and too few expended.

That may sound like too much of a simplification. But according to Dr. Mark Gettleman, M.D., F.A.A.P. and founder of Dr. Goofy GettWell, a mobile and telemedicine pediatric practice, the answer is simple.

Dr. Mark Gettleman AKA Dr. Goofy Gettwell

Dr. Mark Gettleman AKA Dr. Goofy Gettwell

“It all boils down to calories in, calories out,” Dr. Gettleman said. “Kids are eating more and moving less. We need to encourage kids to pass on the junk food, sodas and juice drinks while also encouraging them to move their bodies more.”

Dr. Gettleman believes that while there are some genetic causes for obesity, most of it can be controlled with moderate behavior modification.

“Childhood obesity is a serious illness,” Dr. Gettleman explains. “It can lead to cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, strokes, even cancer. It also poses a risk for diabetes later in life.”

Those are only some of the physical concerns. Dr. Gettleman says that the social and psychological problems linked to childhood obesity are even greater.

“Kids who are morbidly obese suffer from low self-esteem and often are targets of bullying and stigmatization at school,” he said. “We need to teach kids how to eat well and get them excited about exercising.”

Dr. Gettleman’s Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids:

  1. Eliminate all soda, juice and sports drinks
  2. Limit dessert to two times/week
  3. Encourage fruit as a sweet snack alternative
  4. Don’t use food as a behavioral reward (use a toy, an experience or one-on-one time with a parent to encourage good behavior)
  5. Don’t insist that kids finish everything on their plates. When kids are full, allow them to stop eating. Encourage your kids to listen to their own bodies regarding hunger and satiety.

Dr. Gettleman’s Top 5 Exercise Tips for Kids:

  1. Be the best model for commitment to physical activity. If you’re a couch potato, how do you expect your kids to want to run around in the backyard? Get involved personally in some kind of physical activity to motivate your children.
  2. Create a plan: Work with your kids to set goals and design a basic fitness plan. At first it might be just a walk around the block every afternoon. But it will give you a foundation upon which to build.
  3. Keep a log: Write it down and keep track of how often your kids are participating in physical activity. Supply them with non-edible rewards for achieving weekly or monthly goals.
  4. Limit screen time. There are so many reasons for your kids to not move their bodies: TV, computer, tablet, smart phone. Place appropriate limits on all electronic devices. 1 hour of screen time on school days and two hours on weekends will allow your kids to stay “connected” but will push them to find other outlets for their energy and creativity.
  5. Do something together. Whether it’s tossing a ball in the backyard or a friendly Ping-Pong tournament. Help your kids enjoy moving by playing any kind of physical games together.

For more information on STEP UP 4 KiDS, please email info@stepup4kids.com.

Dr. Gettleman was awarded first place as The Arizona Republic’s Reader’s Choice Spring 2015 “Best Place for you Children’s Healthy Care.” For more information on Dr. Gettleman, please visit http://www.drgoofygettwell.com.

Tell us: How do you and your child stay healthy and active? Give us your suggestions in the comments section below!

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:27-07:00 July 29th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

Is Sitting The New Smoking?

www images-71

The use of technology is present in almost every aspect of our lives and that of our young people.

In the name of enrichment and education preparedness, children’s days are often over-programmed and immersed in a virtual world.

Technology is not, in itself, the enemy; but a of lack of balance can lead to unhealthy consequences in every aspect of a child’s future.

As noted advocate for getting kids outdoors, Richard Louv notes, “The pandemic of inactivity is one result. Sitting is the new smoking.”

The Healthy LifeStars program helps kids get moving, teaches goal setting and tools for creating a healthy lifestyle.

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:27-07:00 November 6th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Beyond Technology: Supporting Active Pursuits

HLS coach running with kids DenverAs of 2009, children aged eight to 18 were spending more than seven and a half hours a day with non-school related technology. That, according to Kaiser Foundation research. With the increased prevalence of smartphones, tablets and portable video games that number is likely even higher today.

Programs like Healthy LifeStars encourage kids to get and stay active for a lifetime. A well integrated exercise program, combined with healthy eating choices, can alter the quality of a lifetime for a child.

How can you help paint a brighter picture of the years ahead for a young person?

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:27-07:00 October 29th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Fit Kids Fare Better In School

HLS group with sticks

As shrinking school budgets threaten more physical education programs, a new study has confirmed that fit children absorb and retain information more effectively than youngsters who are out of shape.

An additional study published in The Journal of Pediatrics, reported the results of a large-scale project involving nearly 12,000 school children in Nebraska. Researchers found that better fitness resulted in higher achievement scores. Interestingly, the investigation revealed that body size was not the most important factor. Overweight but relatively fit kids fared better than lighter but less fit students.

Yet another recently published study suggests that “higher levels of fitness have their greatest impact in the most challenging situations” that students face in the classroom and beyond. The research only supports what most teachers, parents and child advocates intuitively know; healthy eating and exercise play a critical role in the success of every child. That’s why programs like Healthy LifeStars matter more now than ever.

Help us make a difference in the life of a child.  Today.

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:27-07:00 October 8th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Healthy LifeStars Welcomes Bridget Almond

HLS Bridget

Fortified with a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP)designation through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and a Bachelor of Science degree

in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Arizona State, Bridget Almond is eager to make a difference within Healthy LifeStars.

She will also draw upon her volunteer management, special event planning, and development experience gained through internships with Waste Management Phoenix Open, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Volunteers of America.

As the Development & Operations Coordinator, Bridget will use her creativity and “detail management” skills to provide assistance in a range of new and existing projects.

When not noodling solutions and strategies that will benefit Healthy LifeStars, Bridget enjoys yoga, gardening and travel.

By | 2017-03-14T18:30:27-07:00 October 3rd, 2013|Blog|0 Comments