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Senator Looks to Shed Pounds, Promote Healthy Living

June 29, 2011


Dressed in Rocky-esque training attire — hooded sweatshirt, jogging pants and sneakers — State Senator Gustavo Rivera walked into the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and challenged himself to a weigh-in.

Rivera was joined by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. (sans workout attire) and numerous organizations, to launch the Bronx CAN Health Initiative.

CAN, which stands for Change Attitudes Now, looks to promote a healthier lifestyle among Bronxites, who often rank last on health polls. To help promote the initiative, which will encourage Bronxites to set healthy goals, Rivera said his goal was to lose 20 pounds by the end of the summer without using any gimmicky diet or workout program.

“There is no magic. Eat three-fourths of a plate, less fat, less sugar, less salt, less everything,” said Rivera.

Dr. Jane Bedell, assistant commissioner for the Bronx District Public Health Office, said one-third of Bronx adults are currently obese, she said. Even more startling was the prediction that if trends don’t change as many as 50 percent of Bronx children will develop diabetes.

“We have came together before when our children were in danger and now it’s time to come together again,” said Bedell, comparing how Bronxites passed laws in the past for child hazards such as lead poisoning.

She encouraged everyone to take a brisk walk for at least 20 minutes a day and substitute unhealthy snacks for better ones such as fruits and veggies.

The event included a mini-health fair and a healthy meal of baked chicken, steamed broccoli and fresh fruits.

“I’m Puerto Rican, I love me some pork, and some fried food,” said Rivera. “There’s all this temptation, but it’s about small changes, eating in moderation,”

After jumping on the scale and tipping the scales at 299 pounds, Rivera joked that the slimmer Diaz would be what his post-weight loss shot would look like.

Rivera said he hoped to reach 250 pounds over the next 40 weeks and would have public weigh-ins showcasing his progress each month at future Bronx CAN events. He encouraged all participants to accept a health challenge.

“I want to cut smoking and go to the gym for an hour a day, if anything, I’ll at least walk,” said local resident Laquetta Holmes, who signed up for the challenge, “It’s better than nothing.”


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