Earlier this week Mike Jasper visited with one hundred students and their families about the importance of staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the Health Sciences Charter School in Buffalo. At first glance, the 6'4" 375-pound Jasper might not look like a picky eater, but the Bills offensive lineman explained just how strict he is with his eating habits. In partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Jasper addressed the close-knit families from the school along with local nutritionist Patti Greene, who conducted food demonstrations.
With a "healthy pot luck" style dinner the them for the evening families had the opportunity to put a lot of the nutrition lessons to work right away.
In between demonstrations, Jasper spoke to the crowd and talked about his story of making it to the NFL and how much weight he needed to lose to do so. Growing up in the south with everything being fried including the vegetables, options were limted. He quickly learned that three big calorie busting southern meals a day wasn't the proper way to stay healthy.
Jasper trained his body to eat six to seven small meals a day instead. Every two hours or so he would either have a protein shake or some fruit with lean meat and vegetables. He was honest with those in attendance saying it's not always easy to make this kind of lifestyle change, but if you can get a friend or family member to do it with you it's easier. Eventually as your body adjusts it becomes routine.
"I hope that people listened to what I had to say and can apply it to their lives," Jasper said. "When you live a healthy lifestyle it makes it so much easier to get out of bed in the morning and you feel better. I just hope that I could have helped at least one person and that would have made my visit tonight all worth it."
Jasper also stressed that it's not necessarily about what you weigh, but the kind of life you're given when you do eat healthy.
"It's about the quality of life," he said. "I'm only 25 and I want to be able to enjoy my kids one day and be able to ride bikes with my kids and be able to keep up with them when we play kickball."
The Health Sciences Charter School has only been in existence for two years. Located on Ellicott Street the program is growing. Currently, the school is made up of just ninth and 10th graders. Each year the school takes in a new group of ninth graders so in two years they will be a fully functioning four-year high school.
The building they occupy was vacant for 30 years and used to be an old orphanage for girls. The halls, classrooms and media centers have been renovated and the building has become a very beautiful structure maintaining the original architecture.
"It was such a great event. I'm so blessed to be in a great community like Buffalo," said Jasper. "The other NFL cities are just not as lucky. The small town values of Buffalo really remind me of my hometown just outside of Nashville which is amazing. Sharing my story and speaking to the students is just another way that I feel more integrated into the community of my second home of Buffalo."