The NSTEP Blog

Written by: Wendy-Lee Leeners


Happy holidays NSTEPpers!

This month, we will explore how NSTEP was established and the meaning behind three powerful words: EAT WALK LIVE.

In the early 2000s, our founder and director, Deb Hymers, learned about some statistics from the World Health Organization that shed light on children’s health and its long-term impacts. Deb decided she had to advocate for future generations, so she retired early from her teaching profession and started building her labour of love: NSTEP. NSTEP is an acronym for Nutrition, Students, Teachers, Exercising with Parents.

So what does it mean to EAT WALK LIVE?

The short answer is EAT more of the Three Food Groups, WALK more than before, so we can LIVE longer. 

Let’s explore each action and learn what they can do to keep us living long, happy, and healthy lives.



There is more to food than how it tastes or how full it makes us feel. Food can be the centre of social occasions, represent different cultures, and be a source of happiness. One of the incredible things about food is its power to improve your health and make you feel and perform your best.

One of the main nutrition resources we use at NSTEP is Canada’s Food Guide. It features a plate with three different food groups:

  • Vegetables and Fruits

  • Whole Grains

  • Protein Foods

Consuming foods from these food groups will provide the building blocks for healthy brains and bodies as we age. Together, there are countless benefits they have to offer, such as protecting us from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, supporting your daily activities, offering protection from the environment, and repairing cells and tissues.

Shopping for healthy foods on a budget is a reality for many or our readers, especially given the rise in food costs. Here are some tips to help you choose healthier foods while being mindful of costs: 

  1. Grow your own food or herbs. Tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and other vegetables can grow easily in pots on a countertop.

  2. Shop in-season. Buy as much as you can afford, and freeze or can some food for the coming months.

  3. Use your leftovers. Leftover cooked veggies can be made into soup, added to an omelet or blended and used as a base for pasta sauce. Dedicate one night a week to see what you can make with what’s in your fridge. Take what needs to be used and turn it into a meal!

  4. Make a plan before you get your groceries. Eat before you shop, take an inventory of what you need, check flyers for sales, plan your weekly menu, make a list and stick to it.

    1. Here is a handy flyer app! 

    2. Use your device’s notes app or find a free grocery list app

  5. Use coupons for foods or products you buy regularly. Make sure you check the coupon’s expiry date and be careful not to overbuy.

  6. Purchase store brands over brand names. Many store-brand products are the same or very similar to the brand-name version. The packaging doesn’t matter; it’s what’s inside that counts!



Being active every day is a habit that most people know is beneficial. But consistency with exercising can be challenging! If this sounds familiar to you, consider taking a more straightforward approach to exercise. Much like food, complexity does not always lead to better outcomes. No one is winning any awards for having the most complex exercise routine! If exercising means suffering or enduring some form of pain, you are not likely to stick with it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What type of movements do I enjoy?

  • What exercises will make me feel great?

  • What can I do that I am likely to stick with?

These questions can help to create what’s called a movement plan. Move your body in a way that feels good! The benefits are amazing!

Check out more physical activity resources from our friends at Active for Life



Living longer is great, but what about the quality of your life? Every person deserves to live with joy and vitality without being burdened with too many aches, pains, or chronic diseases. An important factor with this is your mindset. What is your “Why”? What about your health matters to you? Envision your healthiest, most vibrant self. What does that feel like? We don’t want to just live; we want to thrive and feel alive!

Healthy habits contribute to a life filled with energy and purpose, to enjoy hobbies, travel, and spend time with loved ones.

If you need help with maintaining habits, here are some things to think about:

  1. Formulate a plan and write it down. Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

  2. Find a support network. This can be friends or family, or even coworkers. Accountability can make all the difference.

  3. Understand that setbacks are a part of life. Focus on what’s ahead and what you can control. No self-judgement here!

  4. Make self-care a non-negotiable. Make time to recharge, relax, and recharge. This includes getting adequate sleep, water, whole foods, and spending time outdoors with family and friends.

Remember, progress over perfection!


What does EAT WALK LIVE mean to you?

We would love to hear from you!










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