The rainy season (for the most part) is behind us. And in its wake, it’s left the hillsides greener, the skies bluer and who can forget the epic #superbloom of wild flowers blooming in Southern California right now. It feels like spring. It’s time to start afresh, get some spring cleaning done, wear pastel colors, host an Easter egg hunt, and maybe even eat a few Peeps. Here are 20 ways to shake those winter blues and celebrate the arrival of spring in and around Irvine.
Today, January 17th marks Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day, the infamous day when many people abandon their well-intentioned new year’s resolutions. Every year, fitness and nutrition are among the most popular topics for new year’s resolutions. We talked to the coaches at Anaerobic CrossFit about how to stay motivated so you can keep your resolution to get fit and stay fit.
CrossFit Anaerobic operations manager and co-owner Saralyn had never tried CrossFit until after Anaerobic opened its doors in late 2009. She had just had her youngest child and she struggled through burpees. She had always worked out but now with CrossFit, she has become faster and stronger than ever. She says seeing CrossFit change people’s lives is exciting and inspiring and she loves the community they’ve created at Anaerobic.
We talked with the Manager of Anaerobic’s Irvine location, Coach Jeffrey Scott, about CrossFit. Coach Jeff says sports and fitness have played a major role in his life since a young age. He began with surfing and skating but over the years, the broken bones and skin rashes started to add up so he began to gravitate towards the weight room to get stronger. He uses fitness in many different ways including MMA to competing in weightlifting and says he sees himself lifting for the rest of his life.
What advice would you have to a new client trying CrossFit for the first time?
Just commit! Carve a time to focus on yourself and do something to enhance the quality of your life! This gym will give you the fitness and health to tackle goals in your life: ie setting an example for your kids, losing weight, or PR in a 5k run, etc.
How does it feel as a coach each time your clients reach new PRs and how does it feel when they miss a lift?
It’s the whole reason I chose to be a professional coach, to help others achieve their goals and live a healthy and meaningful life. When my private clients or regular members hit a PR we ring a bell and high five them its a big deal and might sound cheesy to other people but its meaningful to them!
We recognized your photo as a featured athlete at the Lululemon store at South Coast Plaza. Can you tell us about this being their ambassador?
Lululemon approached me about becoming an ambassador for the store and I was honored to say the least. The Lulu team specifically Sarah Tagge & Kelly Cook-Hermann have been amazing with pushing me to reach my goals and introducing me to remarkable individuals, coaches and instructors who make a positive change in their own communities on a daily basis. One moment I am really proud of is teaming up with Lululemon and 3 other studios on a Saturday to raise $3k for the Wades Army Charity Workout.
What motivates you? What is your philosophy on life?
Nothing in life is supposed to be easy, everything in nature fights for food and survival except us. I try to get out my comfort zone and do something uncomfortable every week to remind me that nothing great comes without hard work and sacrifice.
New to CrossFit? CrossFit Anaerobic has an OnRamp program so you can get comfortable with CrossFit movements and terminology in a 1–on-1 or at most, 3-to-1 instruction setting.
Looking to keep your fitness resolution this year? Check out CrossFit Anaerobic to schedule your free introductory class.
The holidays are just around the corner! There’s no right or wrong way to spend your holiday season—some people love going all out, I’m talking spending the entire month drunk on hot cocoa and candy canes, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas on heavy rotation and Christmas decorations galore. Others like to spend this time of year relaxing, unwinding and reflecting. Whatever your plans are, I hope you find some inspiration from this list of holiday activities to enjoy in and around Irvine. Happy Holidays!
Two Southern California gentlemen born decades apart. One is Michael A. Mussallem, Chairman of the Board and CEO of one of Irvine’s largest companies, Edwards Lifesciences. The other is Dr. Lester I. Tenney, a World War II veteran, survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March and former prisoner of war of the Japanese military. Their paths would cross seven years ago when Lester was told that he had only one year to live.
Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine
Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW) is a medical technology company headquartered in Irvine specializing in heart valves and monitoring devices for the circulatory system. Edwards takes its namesake from engineer Miles “Lowell” Edwards who became interested in healing the human heart due to his own childhood experience with rheumatic fever which can cause scaring of heart valves and heart failure. 1)http://www.edwards.com/aboutus/OurHistory
We have the privilege on a regular basis to meet many remarkable patients whose lives have been saved and improved as a result of their treatment with one of our therapies, and it is our single greatest motivation and inspiration at Edwards. – Mike Mussallem, CEO of Edwards Lifesciences
He teamed up with Dr. Albert Starr and developed the first known successful mechanical heart valve ever implanted into a human patient. Edwards founded Edwards Laboratories in Santa Ana, California. Following restructuring, Edwards Lifesciences spun off and became an independent and publicly traded company in 2000. Today, one of the company’s most notable technological innovations is their transcatheter aortic heart valve. 2)http://www.edwards.com/aboutus/OurHistory
During World War II, Lester served in the US Army in the 192nd Tank Battalion. In the spring of 1942, following what would be one of the largest surrenders in US military history; Lester was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Army. He was forced to walk the Bataan Death March and put to work as a slave laborer until he was liberated in 1945.
In his 1995 memoir, My Hitch in Hell, Lester recounts his harrowing story of surviving the Bataan Death March and then being sent to Japan to work as a slave laborer for a Mitsui coal mine. More recently, he wrote The Courage to Remember, a book on how he was able to overcome his post traumatic stress syndrome from his wartime experiences. In his book, he says that he found peace by letting go of bitterness and hatred. He concludes that the act of forgiving others was a gift he gave to himself. “Because of forgiveness, I am a prisoner no more.” wrote Lester.
In 2009, decades after his liberation, Lester was invited to lead a delegation of former POWs to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology from the Japanese government for the inhumane treatment they suffered during World War II. But at 90 years old, Lester’s health was failing.
Lester’s cardiologist told him that he needed a new aortic heart valve but because of his age, he was not a candidate for invasive open heart surgery. He was told if they did nothing, he would have maybe one year to live. Unable to accept this prognosis, Lester began researching less invasive treatment options.
I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years. – Lester Tenney
“I believe strongly that we must be in charge of our own body. We can’t go through life giving that responsibility to someone else just because he or she is a medical doctor. We must be a part of the team that takes care of us. In fact, we are the most important piece of this puzzle.” says Lester.
He found out that Scripps, a hospital near his home in San Diego, was conducting a new clinical trial of the Edwards transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (“TAVR”) treatment. Using this method, a patient is able to receive a new heart valve via a catheter instead of by open heart surgery. In the spring of 2010, Lester became a member of the clinical trial and received an Edwards heart valve. Today, the TAVR treatment has become a widely available option for patients needing an aortic heart valve replacement.
Just months after this life saving procedure, Lester traveled to Japan and received an official apology from then Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. Looking back, Lester says “I picked up seven years that I never would have had.”
Patient and Innovation Focused Culture at Edwards
What does it take for a company to achieve breakthrough therapies for patients such as the TAVR? CEO Mike Mussallem says you have to accept the very real risk of failure on the path to success.
You once said, “I think if you really want to be an innovator in this world, you need to have the willingness to reach and the willingness to fail.” How has this philosophy helped Edwards reach for new breakthroughs in medical technology?
Mike: The recognition that we need to reach and be willing to fail comes from our patient- and innovation-focused culture at Edwards. We became an independent company 16 years ago because we wanted to be able to innovate more quickly and effectively for patients, and invest more resources in research and development.
Whenever we do bold things and pursue truly breakthrough therapies for patients, the opportunity for failure is real and we need to be able to tolerate failure. Only in failure can we learn and find the answers to the big healthcare challenges that we pursue. We embrace a “shots on goal” mentality as we innovate, which means that we’re going to have some misses on our way to success. We know that when we keep our focus on patients, and partner with clinicians to address the unmet needs of their patients, we will drive meaningful change together.
Setting aside the medical technology aspect of Edwards for a moment, when people think about the word “heart,” it’s a very symbolic word. Expressions like “heart’s content,” “heart and soul” and “young at heart” come to mind. What does this mean to you and to Edwards to specialize in healing the human heart?
Mike: Our work at Edwards is personal. We have the opportunity to touch the lives of individuals all over the world with the work that we do. This means that people like Lester have the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal.
It is an honor and a great responsibility to create, hand-assemble and provide heart valves to people all around the world to save and sustain lives. We spend every day looking for answers to how we can better treat patients with heart valve disease and address unmet patient needs. Our 13,000 global employees are focused on patients first, and we come to work every day knowing that helping patients is our life’s work, and life is now.
It was Edwards’ transcatheter aortic heart valve technology that enabled Lester to travel to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology. You once said, “[o]ur work is personal, and it impacts people individually.” To ask the opposite question, how do patients like Lester impact you in a personal way?
Mike: Lester is an amazing person and an inspiration to me personally, and to many at Edwards. I’ve had the honor to spend time with Lester and his wife, Betty, and it is a privilege to know them. This is a man who persevered in conditions that few people ever face, and even fewer could survive. Lester had incomparable mental and physical strength – yet decades later, he found his life threatened by a heart valve disease that could be solved by new technology, if he could get access to it.
It’s humbling to know that our transcatheter aortic heart valve was able to restore his health, and enable him to travel to Japan to receive an apology for WWII veterans for the tragedies they suffered during the war.
We have the privilege on a regular basis to meet many remarkable patients whose lives have been saved and improved as a result of their treatment with one of our therapies, and it is our single greatest motivation and inspiration at Edwards. I have photos of many of these individuals on my shelf in my office, and we have many more lining the halls of our offices at Edwards, to remind us all daily of the reason for the work we are doing.
“I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years.” says Lester, a member of our greatest generation.
This topic isn’t as polarizing as the choice between Clinton vs. Trump but you’ll find plenty of heated discussions between complete strangers if you search the internets. The most vocal commenters generally fall into one of two categories: 1) those who say things like, “Relax, everything can be toxic… so what? Stop with all the scare tactics.” or on the other end of the spectrum, 2) those who say things like, “The government and the chemical companies are all evil, you can’t trust anyone.” That said, let’s talk about pesticides.
Where would you categorize yourself? I find myself somewhere in the middle. Maybe you do too. I buy organic produce for the “dirty dozen” and I use “green” cleaning products in my home. I’d like to think that I take reasonable measures to reduce my exposure to harmful chemicals wherever I can. I suspect this third category of relatively quiet middle-of-the-roaders, of which I have been a longtime member, is perhaps the largest group of people. So if you’re like me and at least curious about how the City of Irvine decided to stop the use of toxic pesticides, read on.
Pediatric Cancer in Irvine
September was Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Laurie Thompson, an Irvine resident and Non Toxic Irvine board member has a six year old daughter who is a cancer survivor. She says her daughter feels embarrassed that she had cancer and she doesn’t want to feel different from other children.
When asked what drove her to push for the ban of toxic pesticides in Irvine, Laurie said, “The effects of childhood cancer are not always visible but they are there. They never go away. It causes me great pain to know that my sweet, spunky, tiny girl feels ashamed of her cancer journey. Cancer has already taken so much from our family and from so many others. I never expected it to cause my daughter embarrassment. The desire to protect my children and all of the children of our community from the effects of toxic pesticides is a major driving factor for me.”
What is a “pesticide” anyway? Some Basic Definitions
City Council of Irvine Votes Unanimously to Move to Organic Pesticides at the Urging of Non Toxic Irvine
The Irvine group Non Toxic Irvine (“NTI”) spearheaded a movement to make Irvine as free from toxic pesticides as possible. On February 23rd of this year, NTI, joined by several other Irvine residents and scientific experts, spoke at a City Council meeting to request that the City amend its policy on pesticide use due to health risks associated with exposure to toxic pesticides. The City Council unanimously voted to amend the City’s Integrated Pest Management (“IPM”) policy.
Irvine’s IPM was amended to use pesticides in the following order: 1) organic pesticides, 2) Water Quality Act Allowed Pesticides, and 3) EPA Level III “caution” labeled pesticides only when deemed necessary to protect public health and economic impact by a licensed pest control adviser. Organic pesticides are to be used in all City properties and exposure to any pesticides where children and general public congregate would be limited.3)City Council Regular Meeting Minutes, February 23, 2016 at 4pm, City Council Chamber, One Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, California 92606.
Although governments can be notorious for stagnation, that was not the case here. Members of NTI say that working with the City has been a very positive experience. “Soon after our online petition launched, we were asked to meet with Mayor Steven Choi and Councilwoman Christina Shea. They agreed to add us to their meeting agenda on February 23.” said Kim Konte another board member of NTI.
Christina Shea was the Council Member who put NTI’s request on the agenda. “Our non toxic pesticide organic program is one of the first to be implemented in the State of California. I am a cancer survivor and I am acutely aware of the damaging effects of toxic chemicals in our lives and the environment.” said Council Member Shea. “Our non toxic organic program will be effective in eradicating weeds and pest infestations within our green belts, parks and open space, but not cause undue harm to our wildlife, family pets and our small and vulnerable children. It was my pleasure to bring forward this proposal with our Non Toxic Irvine parent partners.”
Of course, bringing about major change is rarely easy. When asked if they’ve encountered opposition, Ayn Craciun, a board member of NTI said, “Yes, of course. I like to think it’s mostly inertia—people who are used to doing things the way they’ve always done them and can’t see another way. Some people are afraid organic landscaping will cost more, but when you tell them it will actually cost less in the long run, they are more interested.”
Ayn became interested in working on this issue after experiencing a series of unexplained miscarriages. She began looking for answers and found numerous studies linking pesticide exposure to fetal death. “I want my kids to know that when something is wrong, you do your best to fix it. I want them to remember that I tried to do that.” said Ayn.
What began as isolated efforts by individuals in Irvine within their own communities or schools, became NTI in early 2015 when they banded together to successfully lobby the Irvine Unified School District to stop using Roundup, a commonly used pesticide, at schools. Soon after, NTI turned its focus to the City of Irvine. Thanks to NTI’s efforts, IUSD has adopted fully organic landscaping methods.
Private Properties within Irvine
Legally, the City’s decision only covers properties managed by the City and cannot extend to private properties such as property managed by home owners associations.
The following is a current list of approved chemicals for a community here in Irvine.
“Irvine has 230+ HOAs, and all but maybe 8 are still using a conventional pesticide regimen. We are trying to help people who reach out to us make changes in their communities by providing a toolkit – template letter, meeting comments, factsheet, and other support. It is a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding when we hear that a community is making a change in the right direction.” says Ayn.
Evaluating the Risk of Pesticide Exposure
Perhaps one major reason NTI has had success is because they do not use alarmist fearmongerer tactics. Instead, the group relies on data and science to spread awareness. One of their scientific advisers is Dr. Bruce Blumberg, a Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC Irvine.
Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (“IARC”) an arm of the World Health Organization (“WHO”) classified the chemical glyphosate, as a probable carcinogen in humans. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the United States.4)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate The chemical has already been proven to cause cancer in animals.5)http://fortune.com/2015/04/15/roundup-monsanto-cancer-link-hard-to-prove/ “The major challenge with showing that a chemical causes cancer in humans [as opposed to animals] is that the cancer typically develops many years after exposure.” said Dr. Blumberg.
One of the most commonly used brand of herbicides that uses glyphosate as its active ingredient is Roundup, a product of the multinational agrochemical company, Monsanto.6)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#Current_products Roundup is an approved chemical in the list above.
“Timing [can make] effects permanent. That’s why it’s so important we protect children, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.” Dr. Bruce Blumberg
Should the Public Wait for the Final Word on Glyphosate from Federal and State Agencies?
At our state level, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a statement one year ago of its intent to list glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65.10)http://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/crnr/notice-intent-list-tetrachlorvinphos-parathion-malathion-glyphosate In response, Monsanto (the manufacturer of Roundup) filed a lawsuit in Fresno this year, (Monsanto Company v. Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, et al, case number 16-CECG-00183) asking for the court to stop the OEHHA from listing glyphosate as a carcinogen and to declare the proposed listing of glyphosate as a carcinogen as unconstitutional. Numerous parties have joined the case and the next motion on calendar set for early December is a motion to dismiss filed by the OEHHA.
Today, these chemical compounds are known as endocrine disruptor chemicals (“EDCs”) and they include chemicals such as bisphenol-A (“BPA”) and polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”). EDCs can commonly be found in things we encounter every day including food, cosmetics, food containers and pesticides.12)https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/
“These EDCs are chemicals with similar chemical properties to natural hormones, allowing them to interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system.” said Dr. Blumberg. Also significant is the timing of one’s exposure to EDCs. “Timing [can make] effects permanent. That’s why it’s so important we protect children, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.” added Dr. Blumberg.
But back to those who might say “everything can kill us, so what?” Well, it’s partially true; we encounter things that are harmful to us on a daily basis. Some carcinogens, we may accept as having more benefits than risks and voluntarily expose ourselves to, such as alcohol or the sun’s UV rays.13)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_cancer Other chemicals, if enough people speak out, may be banned. One such example is the history of bisphenol-A (“BPA”), an estrogen mimicking chemical that has been used in plastics since the 1960s. Although the Food and Drug Administration declared BPA as safe in 2008, after repeated reports of negative health effects, they instituted a ban of BPA in 2012.14)http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/science/fda-bans-bpa-from-baby-bottles-and-sippy-cups.html?_r=0
As of today, there remains disagreement and much controversy on the issue of whether glyphosate is harmful to humans. Today, we know there is sufficient evidence that it causes cancer in animals.15)http://fortune.com/2015/04/15/roundup-monsanto-cancer-link-hard-to-prove/ Is it a stretch that what can cause cancer in animals could also cause cancer in humans? No, says Dr. Blumberg. “It is true that there are some instances where a chemical will have one effect in humans and another effect in animals but those are the exceptions, not the rule.” says Dr. Blumberg.
The question we should ask ourselves is should we wait for the final word that glyphosate or other pesticides are a carcinogen or EDC? Or should we err on the side of caution and take action now?
“Why risk exposing young people to a chemical that is a probable human carcinogen? There is a benefit and a risk with any decision you make in life. You have to accept that you might make the wrong decision. Which way do you want to be wrong?” asked Dr. Blumberg “With respect to EDCs and carcinogens, it is obviously prudent to reduce exposure to suspect chemicals. This is what we call a ‘no brainer’ unless you are the person who stands to benefit from the sales or use of the chemical in question.”
Reduce exposure to a chemical “probably” carcinogenic to humans
Reduce exposure to EDCs
Long term likely benefit of improved health, lower incidence of disease and lower health care expenditures
Cost savings with increased soil health, reduced water use and reduced cost of chemicals
Possible decrease in aesthetics
Manufacturer of chemicals/pesticides may suffer lower sales or may need to offer an alternative formulation
Landscaping companies may need to adopt new practices
What’s Next for the Non Toxic Irvine Movement
Even though they’ve already brought about significant change in Irvine, NTI says they have only just begun their work.
NTI is still working with the Irvine Unified School District on their Pesticide Management Policy and four of NTI’s board members serve on IUSD’s Pest Management Task Force. They have also met with The Irvine Company and are hopeful that they too will follow the City of Irvine’s lead. Most recently, the large community of Woodbridge, home to some 30,000 residents confirmed that they are working with the City to develop a pest management plan that is consistent with the City’s. NTI’s efforts are being recognized at the national level and like minded people in other cities are starting their own non toxic movements.
Of her efforts to make Irvine non toxic, Kim Konte’s 11 year old son said, “Mom, I had no idea such a small group of people could make such a big change.” “To know that we could have fewer families go through what Laurie and her family has makes every second, every meeting, every moment working on Non Toxic worth it.” said Kim.
If you’re interested in finding out what chemicals are being used in your neighborhood, contact your HOA and ask them to provide a list like the one above. For more information on how to work with your homeowner’s association (or cities outside of Irvine) to stop the use of toxic pesticides please contact NTI.
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