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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


October 2017

Step 10: Snacking Smart

At home, school, on-the-go or at a café, choose healthful food and drinks for the whole family.

Making Healthy Strides


Pick one day and plan your snacks out for the week to set yourself up for success!

Get input from you kids on what they like and plan ahead of time. A fun idea is to use muffin pans to store snacks.

RECenter Vending Gets a Makeover

As the Park Authority’s wellness coordinator, it warms my heart to hear how our RECenters have changed lives for the better. For example, I remember the inspiring story of one man who turned to his RECenter fitness director for exercise and nutritional guidance to lose weight. He followed the advice, lost a considerable amount of weight over time and ultimately learned from his doctor that he no longer needed medication to manage his obesity-related high blood pressure and high cholesterol. His commitment to himself to maintain a healthy lifestyle changed his life forever.

Part of the Park Authority’s mission is to engage the public in leading healthy and active lifestyles. This includes both exercise and nutrition. While we excel at providing hundreds of monthly fitness and wellness options for our customers, we recently realized the contents of our vending machines fell short in nutritional standards. In keeping with our mission, we set out to find tasty, more nutritious snacks and beverages with less sugar and fat, and in researching the options we were surprised to find that nationwide, healthful vending options outsell more traditional options 3-to-1. It seems that the goal of making good nutritional choices is catching on!

These days, you’ll find that our RECenter soft drink machines have been replaced with new, Hello Goodness machines offering water, juice and sports drinks. We are also in the process of stocking our snack machines with choices that meet or exceed USDA and American Heart Association standards for vending. Additionally, you will be able to purchase everything for $1 with the option to use a credit card, if you choose. So, whether you’re visiting the RECenter for yourself or for your family, you can feel good about the nutritional value of the snacks and beverages you choose from our machines.

Source: Elizabeth Ittner, Fitness and Wellness Program Coordinator

MyPlate’s 10 Tips for Healthy Snacks

  1. Save time by slicing veggies and serve with dips like hummus or low-calorie dressing. Make a small pizza by topping half a whole-wheat English muffin with spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables, and low-fat shredded mozzarella and melt in the microwave.
  2. Mix up dried fruit, unsalted nuts, and popcorn in a snack-size bag for a quick trail mix. Blend plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt with 100% fruit juice and frozen peaches for a tasty smoothie.
  3. Grab a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk alternative (soy milk) as an easy way to drink a healthy snack.
  4. Go for great whole grains like whole-wheat breads, popcorn, and whole-oat cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Limit refined-grain products such as snack bars, cakes, and sweetened cereals.
  5. Nibble on lean protein such as low-sodium deli meats or unsalted nuts. Wrap sliced, low-sodium deli turkey around an apple wedge. Store hard-cooked (boiled) eggs in the refrigerator to enjoy any time.
  6. Keep an eye on the size of the snack so it doesn’t replace a meal. Store snack-size bags in the cupboard and use them to control serving sizes.
  7. Fruits are quick and easy “grab-and-go” options that need little preparation. Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits can be easy.
  8. Consider convenience with a single-serving container of low-fat or fat-free yogurt or individually wrapped string cheese can be just enough for an after-school snack.
  9. Swap out the sugar and opt for healthier foods so kids avoid cookies, pastries, or candies between meals. Add seltzer water to a ½ cup of 100% fruit juice instead of offering soda.
  10. Prepare homemade goodies using dried fruits like apricots or raisins and reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Adjust recipes that include fats like butter or shortening by using unsweetened applesauce or prune puree for half the amount of fat.

Source: U.S.D.A., "10 Tips: MyPlate Snack Tips for Parents"

Quench Your Thirst with Better Beverage Choices

It’s easy to drink your way through a couple hundred calories a day, without even realizing it! Here are some ideas for reducing your caloric intake when it comes to beverages.

  • Choose water, diet, or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
  • Don't "stock the fridge" with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
  • Serve water with meals.
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
  • Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
  • When you do opt for a sugar-sweetened beverage, go for the small size. Some companies are now selling 8-oz. cans and bottles of soda, which contain about 100 calories.
  • Be a role model for your friends and family by choosing healthy, low-calorie beverages.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Rethink Your Drink"

Get Info for the 50+ Crowd at the Park Authority’s 50+ Web Portal

50+ Connect, Engage, PlayThe Fairfax County Park Authority has launched a website specifically for residents age 50 or older. The 50+ Engage-Connect-Play portal provides one-stop shopping for information on Fitness & Wellness, Arts & Learning, Gardening & Adventure, Giving Back, and more that’s geared toward Baby Boomers and active seniors.

Learn More at Fairfax County Park Authority - Fifty Plus.


Fairfax County Park Authority Take 12 Sponsors
Take 12 Steps for Family Health
Take 12 Steps for Your Health in 2017 Calendar

Download Your

12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community! The calendar contains fitness and wellness tips, ways to improve your nutritional habits, and better health ideas for kids, teens and adults. Also, the calendar contains coupons to use throughout the year. STEP UP to better health!

The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
  • Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!

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Download the Take 12 Pledge


Take 12 Newsletter

2017 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 22, 2017


Healthy Workshops and Events are always being added!
Check our events calendar often for great opportunities in the community.

All events are free (unless indicated with a "$") and require advanced registration.
To register, please email


We are looking for people who have used the Take 12 program and found better health as a result of their participation. We are also looking for any kind of feedback about the program - the calendar, events, workshops, tips, articles - anything that you want to tell us, we're listening! Email us at


Phone: 703-324-8423

Mailing Address:
Fairfax County Park Authority
Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking any new medication, beginning any program of exercise, or following any health or wellness advice contained herein.

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