I love, love, love social media. Why, you ask? Well, if it weren’t for the magic of social media, I wouldn’t have met sooooo many awesome, fabulous, incredible people. One of these awesome, fabulous, incredible peoples is Dr. Heather Manley, a naturopathic doctor from Hawaii. Now, beings I’m from Iowa, it’s not likely I would’ve ever run into Heather at a PTO meeting or come across her practice in the local yellow pages. Instead, Dr. Heather was referred to me by my friend Andi, a San Francisco blogger who I met at Blissdom 09 in Nashville, which I attended with Jody, my friend who lives a mile away but I met through blogging. Whew! Did you get all that?
I am so excited to be able to help Dr. Heather spread the word about her new educational adventure story, The Lucky Escape!, the first in the Human Body Detectives series. The series features two sisters (and “Human Body Detectives”), Merrin and Pearl, who magically enter different systems in the body to solve a health mystery. Through an action-packed audiobook on CD, listeners learn how the various systems work and what foods best fuel that system. An accompanying workbook filled with games and puzzles (and super-cool stickers) reinforces what kids have learned and help them further understand the importance of maintaining healthy systems. The second story, The Battle with the Bugs, is due out in October, with books to follow focusing on the circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems.
Dr. Heather graciously agreed to an interview with me so I could learn more about her as a doctor, an author, a business owner—and a mom!
You received your medical degree in Naturopathic Medicine. What exactly is Naturopathic Medicine, and how does it differ from traditional medicine?
I graduated in pre-med first and then went onto study at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. The schooling is similar to conventional medical school with all the “ology” classes, cadaver work, and hours in the clinic. However, we take a yearlong class in nutrition, extensive classes in physical medicine, as well as pharmacology and our own medicinal modalities like botanical medicine, homeopathy and hydrotherapy.
I love the philosophy of naturopathic medicine and how naturopathic physicians stand true to it. The six philosophies of naturopathic medicine are:
- Trust the healing power of nature
- First, do no harm
- Find and treat the cause
- Treat the whole person
- Doctor as teacher
I believe the integration of these two fields of medicine can be very powerful for the health of our country, and I hope to see more of it in the future.
What made you decide to write the Human Body Detectives series?
When my oldest daughter started school at age 4, I went in and spoke to the 4- through 8- year-olds about visiting the doctor’s office. I had them fill out chart notes and look inside one another’s mouths and ears, and we talked about the digestive system and nutrients. The kids loved the interactivity, the games, and the trivia I spoke of. I realized there were no books out there that focused on the different systems of the body—only the whole body—in a fun, adventurous way. I ended up going to many schools and realized one day that I might as well write a story about a voyage through the digestive system, as the kids just loved learning about it! To me, there was an obvious need to fill this void with my series, so I decided to “go for it” and I am glad I did – I am having fun!
What do your girls think about being part of the Human Body Detectives, both as characters and narrators?
I believe they really enjoy it. Merrin was not so happy about the outfit the illustrator put her in with the first book though so that has changed in The Battle with the Bugs. Merrin really likes the stories and testing out the activity workbook. Pearl loves the whole thing —learning about the body, going into the studio and hearing her voice!
What are some tips or advice you can give parents for helping their kids make healthy choices?
Hold off on any type of processed food with your children until they are much older. Kids will eat what is on their plate (eventually – they will not starve themselves), especially if it is on your plate. Set a good example!
Never have junk food in the house. We will have a movie night that is a special time where we will all pick out our favourite “treats”—ice cream and root beer or chips. The kids love that.
I think it is important to have a balance of all foods (heavier on the whole foods ), so I rarely say no. If I see them indulging too much of something, like if we are at a party, I will tell them they might want to stop, but if they decide not to I definitely make it a point to ask how they feel afterwards. Usually they feel rotten and do remember that for the next time. At the dinner table we talk a lot about what colourful foods do in the body. Like pink salmon will help you in math, or broccoli will help you run faster – kids love this concept!
As a doctor, mom, and author, how do you stay balanced?
I wake up early and check my emails and get a feel for the day. I then write down a “do able” list of what I would like to accomplish for that day. I feel like this peaceful time grounds me for what will come in the next few hours. When I get some quality time in the morning it really makes me feel positive for the rest of the day – like I have accomplished something which allows me to be a better mom when the kids come home. I actually just blogged about this topic!
Squeezing in some exercise during the day, whether it is a spin class or a run with our dog, is really important! And so is eating as well as I can – lots of whole foods.
What are your future plans for the Dr. Heather’s Healthy Kids Web site?
We have just created a recipe page (cooking-for-kids video with a recipe) where the girls are cooking their favourite snack and meals. I would love to expand this more ~ kids really enjoy cooking and if kids can watch other kids cook they may be inspired to make some of their own home-cooked meals!
My girls would love to see something more interactive – like a video game – that teaches/ reinforces the books to another level. This would be great . . . but maybe down the road a bit.
What do you envision for the Human Body Detectives in the future?
This is easy!
- Part of all elementary school health/science curriculum
- Create the stories on DVD (This would complete an educational package for all types of learners.)
- Go international!
Boys #2 and #3 listed to the audiobook of The Lucky Escape!, and I was actually very impressed at how much it kept their interest. Being boys (and having the attention span of gnats), I wasn’t sure they would sit and listen when they didn’t have a video to watch or book to follow along with. But the quality of the audiobook is very good, and I think this was the key. The narration is full of inflection, and Dr. Heather’s daughters do an incredible job of playing the parts of Merrin and Pearl, creating clear and varied dialogue. And as soon as the story got to the part about Robbie, the girls’ little brother, farting, they were hooked. The look on their faces was priceless as they realized there was actually a scientific reason for farting and it wasn’t just invented for their own entertainment!
The workbook that accompanies the audiobook is chock-full of fun, yet educational, activities for kids to complete to enhance their learning of the digestive system. In the middle of the book are two pages of cool full-color stickers representing the book characters and other aspects of the story. They are totally kid-friendly and a great addition to the book.
The Human Body Detectives series would not only have an excellent place in elementary classrooms to supplement a unit on the human body systems, but it is also set up perfectly for homeschoolers, as well as for kids to read and work on for fun outside of school. Another great idea? Dr. Heather has created a program for groups who would like to use the Human Body Detectives as a fundraiser in or outside of school. I would much rather buy a copy of The Lucky Escape! than an overpriced candle or frozen pizza.
So, do you want to win a copy of The Lucky Escape!? Well, today’s your lucky day! Visit Dr. Heather’s Healthy Kids Web site and then come back here and leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win. It’s that easy! (If you’re reading this on Facebook, just leave a comment there letting me know you’d like to win.) While you’re on her Web site, make sure you watch the book trailer for The Lucky Escape! as well as Merrin and Pearl’s cooking show complete with recipes (The Tower of Power looks yummy!). You can even listen to the Human Body Detectives theme song or learn more about naturopathic medicine and Dr. Heather’s practice.
Want extra entries? Just leave me a comment telling me that you:
So, that’s a total of THREE ENTRIES for each of you! The contest will end on Thursday 9/24 at midnight! I will then randomly select a winner. Tell your friends to enter as well!
You’ll be hearing more about Dr. Heather later this week, as she is helping sponsor my trip to the Type-A-Mom Conference in North Carolina. (Whoo-hoo!) But it won’t stop there. I am so impressed with Dr. Heather and her series, and I will be doing all that I can to continue spreading the word and getting kids introduced to the Human Body Detectives!