While summer certainly is a time to have fun, it is easy to veer off track from your regular routine. Nia Vardalos, actress and screenwriter of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, is a mother that knows how hectic the summer months can be. She is also the spokesperson of Life...supplemented. I interviewed Nia, and Dr. Duffy MacKay, ND to discuss ways to keep the summer months healthy and balanced.
Oakland County Moms: I'm a big fan of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I'm 100% Italian and saw a lot of similarities - my husband can vouch for these as well. What specific parts of the movie were from your personal experiences, and specifically, where did the Windex come from?
Actress Nia Vardalos: When I was writing the movie, I basically just took anything that has ever happened to me and just sort of shoved it into the span of the year of the screen play. But, the Windex is exactly how I grew up. My dad for some reason just believed that it worked on everything. I think to this day he's waiting for S.C. Johnson to come and give him a holding deal. The weirder the thing is, the more likely it is to be true in the movie. Like, I really did have an Aunt with a lump on her back of her neck that she claims is her twin.
Oakland County Moms: Summers are fast paced and everyone is reaching for quick meals, which may not always be the healthiest. What advice do you have for healthy meals on the go?
Actress Nia Vardalos: What I try to do in our house is we try to do things that are whole grain, and also we use tomato sauces that don't have any preservatives in them. We have to be real. Not everyone has time to be at home and have an apron on, and make a three course meal. So, it's just very easy I think to make healthy choices. And, we all add supplements. I give my daughter a daily vitamin and that's when it occurred to me, "Wait a minute, I ought to be taking some supplements myself. We're all still growing." So, that's basically all we did - we incorporated supplements into our lives; with a healthy diet, supplements, and exercise.
Oakland County Moms: So there are benefits to adding supplements to your daily routine. What types of supplements do you use?
Actress Nia Vardalos: You know, the ones that I take may not be right for you. I always take all the ones in the alphabet - A, B, C, D - but what I take may obviously not be right for you or your neighbor or other moms listening. So, what you should basically do is consult your health care professional first, and ask what might be missing in your life. But, the easiest way to do it is if you go to lifesupplemented.org, there's a My Well score card and you can see what you could be doing in your life to make a little change.
Oakland County Moms: Days are longer, the sun is shining, and bedtimes are battles. What do you recommend for summer sleep schedules for children?
Dr. Duffy: That's a really good question. Of course, everybody's different, so if you have serious sleep problems, it's important to talk about those with your physician. But, the three pillars of health are actually designed as a holistic way to help support everything from energy during the day to sleep at night. So, for example, there's lots of science to support good exercise during the day promotes a restful evening's sleep; getting the right nutrition through the day, combining diet and dietary supplements - can help with a restful sleep. So, there's no one thing that's going to help everyone but this is something that you really need to dial out with. There's a lot of sleep hygiene things that you learn about, too, as far as the lighting and the comfort, the rituals... but most important is everybody can focus on the three pillars. Eat a healthy diet, supplement where it's needed, and exercise regularly.
Oakland County Moms: Kids are outside and active during the summer months. What levels of activity are considered legitimate exercise to maintain health?
Actress Nia Vardalos: For me, I just try to raise my heart rate every day in some way - not in a stressful situation... sitting in traffic doesn't count as exercise. I think Dr. Duffy can tell us some pretty good ways to get better exercise.
Dr. Duffy: In fact, at lifesupplemented.org, if you go to the drop down menu for Exercise, it will discuss this. And what the important thing is, is that everybody is different and you need to start where you're at. So, a 50-year old mom who hasn't exercised for the last seven years is going to have a different threshold than your seven year old child. And, you're right, they should be doing vigorous exercise; something that makes them breathe hard. If they're just sitting around, or even just playing basketball shooting hoops, it's good to be outside, it's important, but they need to be also running, breathing, and sweating, cause that's the role of a child.
Oakland County Moms: What do you see as the biggest health mistake families make during the summer months?
Actress Nia Vardalos: I think in our family, the biggest mistake that we make, is going for junk food and later in the night, a late night stroll with ice cream. It could probably be replaced with frozen yogurt or just a bottle of water. We're trying to make some changes, especially because my husband and I know we're supposed to be the example for our daughter. And, all I keep thinking is that whatever I eat tonight is going to be answered in my bikini tomorrow.
Oakland County Moms: If families want to set up a summer plan, what would an ideal, well-rounded day include?
Dr. Duffy: I think a well-rounded day would be breakfast with the family, making sure you get your fruits and vegetables and you're taking your multivitamin. Having something that's outside and active if mom or dad is home during the summer, which is great. A lot of us have to resort to sending them to an active summer camp, horse camps, outdoor camps, kayak camps... and then getting them home and regrouping and sitting down, and talking about the day.
Actress Nia Vardalos: Our family, we're big talkers in my family. So we basically spend the last part of the day just re-hashing what happened all day. It's my favorite thing because my daughter comes up with some stuff. Like my daughter said "You know, Cameron's my boyfriend. He doesn't know yet." That's when those gems come out. (laughs)
Dr. Duffy: One of the things people underestimate sometimes, in fact in my son's school in their PE class, they make them go runnning and different things. without that on a daily routine, sometimes I actually have to say "Dawson, get out there, go for a run" because no other adults are encouraging that. And then I have to watch what he's eating. If he's out with friends eating fried this and that, and candy whatever, I have to say "You didn't get good nutrition. We're going to make sure you're taking your vitamins regularly. And since we're out of the routine, it used to always be right before they left for school, now sometimes things are different. So, it's a little more onus on us to remember that that's got to happen.