Serving Others with
a Shared Passion

Phil Leake spent many years on
the other side - running in five
marathons and countless other...

read more

Helping People Find
Balance in Food

For Jessica Stamm, eating healthy
is a way of life - regardless of the
season. "I enjoy a treat here or...

read more

Serving Others with a Shared Passion

Phil Leake spent many years on the other side - running in five marathons and countless other shorter races. But now, he is happy to serve other runners in various roles, including as coordinator for the mile 23 water station of the California International Marathon (CIM). "I know what those runners are going through," he says. "I feel their pain and I feel their passion. I love being a part of that atmosphere."

The mile 23 water station just happens to be on J Street, right outside the entrance to Mercy General Hospital where Phil has worked for many years. While his role has changed over the years, Phil currently coordinates the hospital's exercise lab and serves as a pulmonary rehab instructor. "What is important to me is working directly with patients," Phil explains. "I am not a paper pusher - I want to be helping people."

That attitude makes Phil well-suited for his job with the CIM (which is taking place on Sunday, Dec. 8 this year). The goal of the water station is to provide medical aid, water and sports nutrition to the runners. To make that happen, Phil has to round up several dozen volunteers. This year he will have at least 60 volunteers working, including hospital employees as well as members of the Del Campo ROTC corps. "We have to be set up and ready by 7 a.m.," Phil says. "The first runners get to us by 8:30 or 8:45 and then it is a steady stream for several hours. We close up by 12:30."

With an estimated 18,000 people running the race this year (a CIM record), you can bet that Phil and his volunteers are busy. "We aren't just handing out water - we're also responsible for ensuring that no rules are being broken and that the runners are medically ok. We've had some runners drop right in front of us - we just wheel them right into the Emergency Room! Fortunately that is pretty rare. Marathoners typically hit the wall around mile 21 so if they make it to us at 23.5 then they are probably going to make it to the end."

Phil says one of the biggest obstacles for both CIM runners and CIM volunteers is the weather. "It's December in Northern California so anything can happen - rain, wind, sleet, ice, fog - you name it! Last year it rained so much the streets were flooded. We've treated people for hypothermia. Fortunately our volunteers are usually a hearty bunch and they brave the elements!"

While Phil says his days of running marathons are over ("My wheels are gone! I just don't have the legs for it anymore!"), he is happy serving the sport as a track and field official and as a volunteer at events like the CIM. And he's also found a new passion to keep him active - throwing! "I took up the javelin and I love it!"

So take it from this exercise enthusiast - there is something out there for everyone, you just have to find what works for you at the age and stage you are at. And if you need a little motivation - come witness the CIM! And next year - join Phil and volunteer! "It's a great way to see world class runners up close. These people are trying to qualify for the Boston marathon and the Olympic marathon. You can't get better than that!"

To learn more about the California International Marathon, visit their website.

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Helping People Find Balance in Food

For Jessica Stamm, eating healthy is a way of life - regardless of the season. "I enjoy a treat here or there - I don't deny myself anything, I just eat it in moderation." That's a philosophy she happily shares with customers through her job as Healthy Foods Specialist at Whole Foods in the Arden area of Sacramento.

Jessica's journey to health and well-being began when she was young. When in high school she struggled with binge eating. "I tried to be perfect when it came to my diet and when I wasn't, I binged," she explains. "When you try to be perfect, that leaves a lot of room for disappointment and failure. Now I give myself room to indulge occasionally and I know that it's just one meal or one day. It's not the end of the world!"

Originally from Los Angeles, Jessica studied nutrition in college, graduating with a nutrition degree and a focus on nutrition counseling. That led her to a job at the Biggest Loser Resort where she advised visitors (including some contestants from the Biggest Loser reality TV show) on eating a balanced diet, incorporating grains and veggies, and portion control. When her husband's job brought them to Northern California, Jessica was thrilled to join Whole Foods Arden as their Healthy Foods Specialist. "It is really a dream job for me," she says. "I am an ambassador for customers. I interact directly with our shoppers and with people in the community and help them achieve a more balanced diet."

Every day at work is different for Jessica. Some days she may be giving store tours to groups or individuals. Other days she may be meeting with a customer one-on-one to do meal planning. She also attends community events and health fairs on behalf of Whole Foods.

So what advice does Jessica share with customers looking to improve their diet or that of their family? Well, to start with she says you need to be realistic. "Understand that on certain days - Christmas, New Years, or at a holiday party - you can treat yourself. Plan ahead for that day. It's just one day - don't deny yourself a treat or a meal that you know you will really enjoy."

Once you identify that "treat" day, Jessica advises against making a very common mistake: Do NOT starve yourself prior to your splurge! "Many people will skip breakfast and lunch, thinking they are saving calories for their big meal. You are actually better off having a nutrient-rich breakfast and lunch so that you are not starving when faced with the calorie-rich foods later."

Finally - ditch the leftovers! "Give yourself that one day to enjoy the festive foods, but then be done with it. Send the leftovers home with your friends. That way the next day you can return to your healthy, nutrient-rich meals."

This holiday season Jessica plans to enjoy a few treats - and she hopes you will too!

If you'd like to schedule a consultation with Jessica or learn more about the healthy eating services at Whole Foods, email her at

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