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Fit 4 Change

9 Delicious and Healthy Options for Football Sunday

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Some foods are synonymous with tailgating: bratwurst, buffalo wings, potato skins, nachos and sliders. While it’s fun to root for your team, don’t let the competition go to your…belly! Many of these foods are high in fat and calories, but with a little preparation you can enjoy some tasty game day foods without sacrificing your waistline.

Try these options from LA Fitness Registered Dietician, Debbie J!

Kabobs – With onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and your choice of steak, chicken or shrimp. Grill ‘em up and enjoy. Less starch and fat than sliders.

Kale crisps – Okay, I know this sounds crazy, but give them a try; you just might like them and save yourself a bunch of calories. Less fat and more vitamins A, C, & K than potato chips.

Buffalo style chicken meatballs – Buffalo style something is a must. Try these; you will be glad you did. Less sodium and more protein than chicken wings.

Pork tenderloin and coleslaw hoagies – You don’t think we would leave you pig lovers without an option now, did you? Less fat and more fiber than hot links.

Put a spin on your dip – Carrots and celery with a garlicky white bean dip. Less fat and more fiber than cream-based dip.

Fruit salad – Try it with sunflower seeds, shredded coconut and pureed cottage cheese. More protein than plain fruit, less sugar than ambrosia.

Sweet potato fries – Slice up some sweet potatoes for a change. Less fat and more Vitamin A than potato skins.

Update your nachos – Try chopped veggies on wheat crackers. Less fat and more fiber than tortilla chip nachos with cheese sauce.

Popcorn balls – Add sesame seeds and crystallized ginger. Less fat and more fiber than cupcakes or donuts.

Beware of grazing! When food is left out in a pot-luck or buffet style there is a tendency to over eat. Prepare and bring just the amount needed for your expected group size, limit the amount you serve yourself and DO NOT MAKE MULTIPLE TRIPS to the food line.

5 Stretches to Do at Your Desk

By | 2015, Fit 4 Change, Health Tips, Workout | No Comments

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can cause muscular tension. But you can prevent the buildup of stress in your muscles by taking a few minutes to stretch.

Try these 5 easy exercises when you need to reenergize, or throughout the day to keep your muscles relaxed.

1. Head tilt. Put your right hand on your left shoulder. Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds. Switch sides.

2. Neck roll. Roll your head to the right, down to the front, then left. Do this slowly and smoothly, in both directions.

3. Shoulder circles. Make circles with your shoulders—up, back, and down. Switch directions. Do at least five circles in each direction.

4. Side stretch. Stretch your arms to the right side, then clasp your hands overhead. Keep your head straight forward but lean your upper body to the right side. You should feel this down your left side. Hold for five seconds. Switch sides.

5. Back release. Sit at the edge of your chair as tall as you can (be careful if it has wheels). Open your legs apart so your arms drop between them. Straighten your legs so your heels are on the floor but not your toes. Knees are relaxed and never locked. Bring your chin to your chest, and then roll down toward your feet, one vertebra at a time.

You should feel this first in your neck, then your upper, middle, and lower back.

This should be done slowly; relax into each part of the back. Roll up just as slowly. This stretch should take at least 30 seconds.

3 Quick Nutrition Tips

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1. Cut out the white stuff.

The easiest way to lose weight and improve your health? Ditch the white stuff! Most white foods (bread, rice, pasta, sugar, flour) are primarily made up of refined carbs and empty calories, so cutting them out of your diet is one of the quickest ways to shed pounds and improve your well-being. There are a few exceptions to the rule, including egg whites, cauliflower, and fish, he says. Those are the only white foods you should have on hand.

2. Trade Supplements for tea.

Drinking all-natural green tea is an excellent way to boost your weight loss and your health. Not only does it have the power to stoke your metabolism, but it also contains the highest concentration of catechins, antioxidants found in plants that have been found to protect against heart disease and even some cancers. Sip on a few cups of green tea throughout the day to get all of its amazing benefits.Not a fan of tea? You can still reap the rewards! Try one (or all) of these creative ways to work green tea into your diet.

3. Delay dessert.

You don’t need to completely eliminate dessert, just try not to indulge immediately after dinner.”Avoid sweets directly after a meal since sugar disrupts the absorption of nutrients,”. The best time for a sweet treat is about two hours after you finish your meal. And when it comes to what you eat, try the good doctor’s go-to dessert: dark chocolate.”The flavonols found in cocoa improve circulation and increase blood flow to the brain, which helps you see more clearly,” he says.

6 Ways to Help Lower Your Cancer Risk

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Cancer is often unpredictable, but there are things everyone can do to help reduce their cancer risk or improve their chances of beating the disease if they do get it. What’s more, some of those same behaviors can also help lower your risk for other serious diseases, and boost your odds of living a longer, healthier life.

1. Get regular cancer screening tests.

 Regular screening tests can catch some cancers early, when they’re small, have not spread, and are easier to treat. With cervical and colon cancers, these tests can even prevent cancer from developing in the first place. Talk with your doctor about the tests for breast, cervical, colon, lung, and prostate cancers.

2. Get to and stay at a healthy weight.

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast, colon, endometrium, kidney, esophagus, and pancreatic cancer.

3. Exercise regularly.

Physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, endometrium, prostate, and colon cancer. It also reduces the risk of other serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (makes your heartbeat and breathing faster, and makes you sweat) each week, preferably spread throughout the week.
  • Kids should get at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity at least 3 days each week.

4. Eat a healthy diet.

Studies show that eating a lot of different vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and fish or poultry is linked with a lower risk of developing certain cancers. On the other hand, eating more processed and red meat is linked with a higher risk of developing certain cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • Eating at least 2. cups of vegetables and fruits each day
  • Eating less red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and less processed meat (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, and hot dogs)
  • Choosing breads, pastas, and cereals made from whole grains instead of refined grains, and brown rice instead of white

5. Avoid tobacco.

Tobacco use in the US is responsible for nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths — about 480,000 early deaths each year. About 80% of lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths are caused by tobacco use.

6. Limit alcohol.

Research has shown that alcohol can increase your risk for certain kinds of cancer, including breast, mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and rectal cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk.

  • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day and women no more than 1.
  • One drink is equal to about 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor


Mississippi Hospital Association

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THE MISSISSIPPI HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION (MHA) is a statewide trade organization dedicated to serving the health needs of Mississippi through serving those who serve us all – our state’s hospitals. MHA was founded 83 years ago and serves all types of hospitals, health care systems, and their patients and communities. MHA has 50 full-time employees who work in five different divisions: MHA, MHA Solutions, the MHA Foundation, Healthcare Providers Insurance Company (HPIC), and Stratagem, Inc. We also have under our roof the Center for Rural Health, the Office of Hospital Emergency Preparedness, and the Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce.

There are 116 hospitals in Mississippi and most of them are members of MHA. The association is funded by dues payments made by each hospital, by commissions generated through endorsed vendor relationships (MHA Solutions), and through operation of our workers’ comp., unemployment comp., and medical professional liability insurance programs (HPIC). Several of the affinity groups mentioned as being under our roof are funded through grants from governmental entities and private foundations (housed under the MHA Foundation). MHA’s offices are located in Madison.

In 2015, MHA’s advocacy team is primarily focused on reimbursement and protections for hospitals as safety net providers. Mississippi’s hospitals are seeing a continual decline in compensation for care and constant changes relating to regulatory issues. Hospitals depend heavily on elected officials for decisions at both the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. These policy decisions have a big impact and influence our hospitals’ ability to provide care. As the rate of uncompensated care rises, hospitals look to our lawmakers to ensure they protect our viability as health care providers and as job producers.

Many people do not recognize hospitals are one of the state’s largest economic drivers. Our hospitals directly employ over 60,000 full-time employees—that’s over 5 percent of the state’s total workforce. We’re also responsible for an additional 34,557 jobs outside of our facilities. Put those two numbers together, and our hospitals account for more than 94,000 jobs across our state.

Payrolls and benefits at our state’s hospitals total over $3.2 billion in one reporting period alone! In most local communities, our hospitals are among the three largest employers, if not in total numbers of employees then in the size of our payrolls. Thirty-six hospitals in our state have over 500 employees each. The total economic impact of hospital payroll spending in Mississippi is $5.8 Billion.

Hospitals in Mississippi are not only caring for sick people—we’re providing major economic engines in every community we serve and actually represent a potential bright spot “growth segment” in Mississippi in years to come. We appreciate our legislative leaders for their dedication and look forward to working with them to make sound decisions on behalf of our industry.

Defeat Your Diet

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HOW TO CALM YOUR CRAVINGS and crankiness while adjusting to a new way of eating.

Dieting Sucks

The deprivation, the siren calls of beer and pizza, the annoyance of micromanagement. Worst of all is the sense that the diet will last forever, that the peppery tang of chicken wings will never again touch your lips. It’s no surprise that 80 percent of diets go belly-up, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. We won’t tell you to skip the diet altogether. We will tell you that it’s going to be okay, though. In order to prevail, you simply have to get inside the diet’s whens, hows, and whys. So this time, instead of stumbling blindly through treacherous territory, you’re going to go on a guided tour of potential diet pitfalls–maybe the same ones that have snared you before. And this time, you’ll breeze past them. There’s just one catch: Pretty soon, you’re going to need some new clothes.

1 Week

THE CRISIS: You’re freakin’ starving.

BEFORE: You ate the first thing you saw.

NOW: Eat, but eat differently. Grab foods with lots of fiber and water. Your (gut) instinct says you want a Burger King Whopper with Cheese. Your smarter self knows that the same caloric load is found in a bowl of whole-wheat pasta with tomatoes and spinach, a whole-wheat dinner roll, a bowl of soup, and three scoops of sorbet. In the car? You’ll keep a stash of dried fruit–a tasty, nutrient-rich hunger-killer.

THE SCIENCE: When your stomach is empty, the hormone ghrelin kicks in, which stimulates appetite, says Scott Isaacs, M.D., a clinical instructor of medicine at Emory University and author of Hormonal Balance. Don’t let that happen. “By eating foods that are packed with fiber and water, such as fruits and vegetables, you’ll feel full while controlling ghrelin production.” Protein does the same thing, but some protein-rich foods are calorie-rich, too. So alternate. Have high-protein string cheese in the morning, fiber and water-rich apple slices in the afternoon.

THE 2ND CRISIS: You’re cranky.

BEFORE: You grabbed the chips and a soda.

NOW: Boost your mood with snacks that satisfy your hormones, not your stomach. Fatty, sugary foods quickly turn into glucose after digestion. From now on, your snacks will be complex carbohydrates, such as a whole-grain treat like a bowl of Cheerios with blueberries and 2 percent milk.

THE SCIENCE: You’re cranky because you’ve eliminated sources of quick mood-boosting energy–like chips and colas. “When these easy sources of energy are cut, you’re going to go through a time when you don’t feel great,” says Vincent Pera, M.D., director of the weight-management program at Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. Researchers in the Netherlands recently demonstrated that a glucose infusion can help ward off feelings of anxiety by enhancing serotonin function. That’s fine, but get your boost from complex carbohydrates that raise your serotonin levels without inflating your waistline the way sugary carbs can.

1 Month

THE CRISIS: The scale seems stuck.

BEFORE: You figured, What’s the point? This isn’t working.

NOW: Get in gear. “Exercising is critical at this juncture,” says Dr. Isaacs. Nothing complicated–just move. Cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, hoops) burns calories, and lifting weights increases muscle mass, which will make you burn calories even while you’re sleeping. For each pound of muscle you add, you burn an extra 20 to 50 calories a day. And drink lots of water to replace what you’re sweating out. Staying hydrated helps your body break down fat and deadens those hunger pangs. (After all, water takes up stomach space, too.)

THE SCIENCE: “As you lose weight, you require fewer calories, but by building muscle mass, you’ll rev up your metabolism and counter this effect,” Dr. Isaacs says. In a recent study at the University of Arkansas, people on low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diets who also exercised lost 3.5 pounds more over 12 weeks than those who ate similar diets but skipped the gym.

THE 2ND CRISIS: You have intense food cravings.

BEFORE: You gave in. Because, hey, life is meant to be enjoyed.

NOW: Give in to snack attacks, but wisely. David Katz, M.D., director of the prevention research center at Yale University school of medicine and author of The Way to Eat, recommends carrying “the food equivalent of an umbrella.” Keep a bag or small cooler of nuts, fruits, yogurt, and low-fat cheese on hand at all times. You need ready access to healthy sources of protein or fiber to offset sudden, out-of-nowhere cravings.

THE SCIENCE: “When you diet, your previously overstuffed fat cells start shrinking,” Dr. Katz says. They know their number’s up and that they’ll soon be burned for fuel. Understandably, they have other plans. “These cells send a message to your brain saying that they need more fuel. They shut down production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain you’re satisfied,” he says. So your brain, by way of your cells, goes on the hunt for anything it can get your hands on. Which is why you should keep healthy snacks within easy reach.

6 Months

THE CRISIS: You’ve made so much progress that you think, What the heck.

BEFORE: You slipped–face-first, into a double-pepperoni, extra-cheese pizza.

NOW: Weigh in. You need to keep your eye on your rate of weight loss. Setting targets blows away complacency. “People taste success, and their adherence slips,” Dr. Pera says. “Their initial feelings of urgency to lose the weight also diminish.”

THE SCIENCE: A study at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth shows that people who weigh themselves regularly are more likely to stay focused. They’re continually reminded of their success so far and of the road ahead. Reaching your goal weight makes you more likely to keep the pounds off. A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania reports that patients who achieve their weight-loss goals are more psychologically satisfied. (continued…) You’re likely to stick with anything–a job, tennis practice– when you know it’s paying off.

THE 2ND CRISIS: You reach a plateau.

BEFORE: You figure, Well, that’s it. I’ve come far enough.

NOW: Diet less, exercise more. It’s probably going to be easier to exercise more frequently than to further restrict a diet that’s become an ingrained habit. Throw in a few high-intensity days–an extra long run or bike ride–to boost the calorie deficit. If your exercise is mostly cardiovascular, devote more time to weight lifting.

THE SCIENCE: “Because your caloric needs have lessened, you need to burn off more in order to continue to see results,” Dr. Pera says. “If you don’t increase your amount of exercise or continue to cut calories, you plateau.” The muscle from weight lifting, Dr. Katz says, will “increase resting energy expenditure. Then, when you return to more aerobics, you’re taking more calorie- burning muscle with you, and you’ll be bumped off the plateau.”

9 Months

THE CRISIS: A voice in your head says, I want my life back.

BEFORE: You got fat again.

NOW: Let loose–a little bit. “Being on a strict diet can drain you mentally, so there’s a huge temptation to let things slide,” says Dr. Katz. If you’re meeting your goals, give yourself a break. “If you love ice cream, try a lower-fat version or a sorbet,” suggests Howard M. Shapiro, M.D., author of Dr. Shapiro’s Picture Perfect Weight Loss. “A pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream has 1,200 calories, while a pint of sorbet has only 300. You can still enjoy the taste, but you’re not inflicting so much damage.” The same logic applies with pizza, cake, beer, you name it. Savor a cold one, but make it an Amstel Light. Instead of the all-meat, extra-cheese pizza, top yours with chicken and green peppers.

THE SCIENCE: “By making your choices, you’re empowered and in control, and won’t feel the deprivation that might lead you to quit,” Dr. Shapiro says. When you feel as if you’ve cultivated enough willpower, reintroduce a couple of all-time favorites into your diet–as treats, not everyday fare. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a Guinness and an order of chicken wings. The baked ones, thanks.

1 Year

THE CRISIS: There is none.

NOW: “Physiologically, you’ve converted your body from a foe to an ally,” says Dr. Katz. Blur the line between diet and lifestyle. Now that healthier eating patterns are ingrained, your diet isn’t a “diet” any longer– it’s a new way of living.

THE SCIENCE: According to research by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, successful dieters report that “significantly less” effort is required to maintain weight loss; as the pounds come off, less conscious attention is needed to keep them off. In other words, the longer you go, the easier it gets.

Getting Ready for Swimsuit Season

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UNFORTUNATELY, there is no magic pill or potion, and there is no easy or quick fix to getting in shape. It takes time, effort and dedication – but the results are worth it! You’ll look your best on the outside when you’re at your best on the inside – NOTHING tastes as good as being lean and attractive feels!

EAT RIGHT AND EAT REGULARLY – Eat to live, don’t live to eat!

  • 5 small meals a day will help keep your metabolism at it’s peak. When we allow ourselves to get hungry, our metabolism slows down and our bodies hang on tight to every crumb we put in it – and by the time we’re famished, we usually don’t make the healthiest choices.
  • Don’t starve yourself to lose weight – you may get skinny for this bikini season – but your metabolism will be shot for future seasons to come!
  • Have a cheat meal. Yes, you need to cut out the sodas and reduce your fat and sugar intake to eat right, but a cheat meal once a week is a great reward. You’ll enjoy it and it will give your body a little shock that will keep it on it’s toes.
  • Forget the scale! Muscle does weigh more than fat, but it’s more smooth and compact, so you can actually be getting smaller without seeing much change in your weight. Judge by how your clothes fit and most importantly by how good you feel!
  • Drink tons of water! A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight by 2. The number you get is about how many ounces you need to be drinking every day. So if you’re 150 pounds, your body needs about 75 ounces of water a day. Sounds like a lot, and don’t worry about water retention. It may happen at first, but once your body begins to trust that you will feed and hydrate it regularly, it will let go of the excess!

EXERCISE – there’s no way around it!

  • The ONLY way to burn fat anywhere is through regular cardio exercise, and you CANNOT choose where you burn it – your body has it’s own natural pattern for burning fat. It may not come off in your waist area at first, but if you stick with a regular program, it eventually will happen everywhere.
  • Besides cardio, you also need weight/resistance training. The more lean muscle mass you have the more effective your body will be a continuing to burn fat! It’s a fact that the leaner you are, the higher your metabolism will be – your body will even burn fat when your at rest!
  • The best way to stick with a program and stay motivated is to find a way to be accountable! Get a partner or train in a group. At PLS we have had a ton of weight loss success stories and one of the biggest factors they say helped them succeed was being part of a group. Not only did they come religiously because they didn’t want to let their teammates down, they didn’t want a call from “Victor” calling them out! Most of all, it’s just a lot more fun to train with friends – and these people may be strangers to each other when they come in, but the friendships and bonds that have formed out of the class has been phenomenal –and that’s something they take with them for good – along with a better body, a better outlook and a better life!

Fit 4 Teaching 2015 — Final Tips

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Don’t Skip Breakfast:

Fiber in the morning means less hunger late in the afternoon, when you’re most likely to feel tired and gorge yourself on sugar. My morning dose comes from steel-cut oatmeal, usually mixed with raisins, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. An early start on eating also keeps your metabolism more active throughout the day; breakfast eaters are thinner than people who just rush out the door

Sweat Till You’re Wet:

If you can work up a sweat for just 1 hour a day four days a week, you’ll enjoy a range of benefits: reduced risk of heart attack, better mood, and lower blood pressure.. Your muscles will become more efficient, so you’ll have more stamina for more enjoyable activities that also work up a sweat.

Add Some Weights:

Just 30 minutes three times a week spent lifting weights can build significant muscle mass. What’s more, working all that muscle burns tons of calories, making it a great way to lose your gut, too. Don’t have weights? Try lifting yourself: Pullups are the most valuable muscle-building exercises. Pullups work the back, pecs, arms, and belly all at once. And since you’re lifting yourself, you’ll think twice before eating that doughnut, because you’ll just have to lift it later.

Mississippi Legislators Send a Message With Remarkable Weight Loss

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JACKSON, Miss.— Some Mississippi legislators, state workers and civilians have lost an elephant, figuratively speaking. They’ve shed 3,043 pounds, the weight of an average elephant, and 714 inches from their waists as part of the 2011 Paul Lacoste Sports Fit 4 Change challenge presented by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

“For the first time in six years, we are not the fattest state, and I like to think it’s because our legislators are leading by example,” said Paul Lacoste, athletic coach and owner of Paul Lacoste Sports. “Some of these guys are in their 50s and 60s, and it’s just incredible — they are showing others that it is never too late to get your life back.”


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ms-bev-logoThe Mississippi Beverage Association, representing our state’s non-alcoholic beverage companies, applauds Paul Lacoste’s vision and heartfelt, God-given mission of improving people’s health and lives through “Fit 4 Change.” We thank you for truly changing lives for the better and we are blessed to continue for the sixth year joining and assisting you and your caring team in your successful work! We also applaud every participant for your commitment to making a change in your own life and to be an encourager and change agent to your family and others.

Just as Paul is enthusiastic in keeping “Fit 4 Change” participants focused during his strenuous workout sessions on the prize of a healthier life, the Mississippi Beverage Association is totally committed to being a part of the solution with you to solve this serious public health problem of obesity.

Our industry has stepped forward to do its part in positively impacting our nation’s health and wellness. Our companies are committed to providing an expansive product line that gives consumers the opportunity to choose the beverage size, type and calorie count that’s right for them. We are meeting the public’s request for nutrition information and “Clear on Calories” labeling, and by offering a wider range of low- and no-calorie options and portion sizes, the total beverage calories per serving have declined by 23% since 1998. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages, including soft drinks, juice drinks, flavored waters and other beverages, make up only 6 percent of the calories in the American diet according to federal government data.

In 2006 we developed national School Beverage Guidelines with the American Heart Association and President Clinton’s Foundation as part of a broader effort to teach kids about the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. With our support, Mississippi was the first state to fully implement them. Full-calorie sodas were removed from student vending at Mississippi’s public schools in 2007, and only lower-calorie, nutritious and smaller-portion beverages are allowed. These guidelines have resulted in a 90 percent reduction of calories from our beverages in schools.

With our state also leading the nation in lack of physical activity, we helped pass legislation in 2007 requiring comprehensive school nutrition guidelines and physical exercise. Our association followed up with significant financial support for our state’s teachers to receive needed training.

We also partnered with the Delta Citizens Alliance in providing a multi-county pre-k nutrition and exercise program and with the Fayette Community Service Organization in establishing and promoting a community wellness program, school fruit tree orchard, and an annual bike give-away to needy kids. We’ve also provided alone and through Dr Pepper Snapple Group several playgrounds for schools and communities in various parts of our state.

MsBev has joined with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America in funding a grant for exercise equipment for state agencies; we co-sponsored with Dr Pepper Snapple Group the “MS Mayors Let’s Play Pledge Challenge” which awarded 26 local communities with playgrounds and/or participation grants for citizens agreeing to be active an additional 60 minutes per week; and we sponsor MPB’s healthy eating cooking show “Fit to Eat” with Chef Rob Stinson of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We’ve heard the expression, “every journey begins with a single step.” The Mississippi Beverage Association looks forward to taking this step and the next ones together with Paul, our legislators, community groups, our fellow co-sponsors and other fellow Mississippians as we make Mississippi the healthiest state in the nation. Now, together, let’s take that next step, “1-2-3-Next Level,” and reach our goal of being individually and collectively as a state “Fit 4 Change”. May God bless Paul, Clark, and all involved for making a difference in each other’s lives for a healthier you and me, and a healthier Mississippi.


Ron Aldridge
Exec. V.P. & Gen. Counsel
Mississippi Beverage Association