Employee Spotlight - Eileen Laird

Aqua New Jersey employee, Eileen Laird, was awarded First Place in the Figure Masters Division at the NPC (National Physique Committee) Eastern USA Championships at the end of October.  The NPC is the amateur bodybuilding division of the International Federation of Body Building. Eileen works in Hamilton, New Jersey as an administrative assistant for state president, Nicholas Asselta.

Eileen has been a Master Figure Athlete with Bombshell Fitness for three years and takes her water consumption very seriously. She drinks between a gallon and a gallon-and-a-half of water each day when preparing for a competition.

“I trust Aqua to give me the best quality water, all day, everyday,”  she said. “My water consumption is crucial to my stamina and endurance in and out of the gym.”

 

Eileen wasn’t always so disciplined. A few years ago, at age 50, she was in danger of developing adult-onset diabetes as well as osteoporosis. Rather than letting her situation worsen, she made some dietary adjustments, purchased a treadmill and started lifting a few weights in her basement.

In 2013, after a year of training on her own and improving her health, Eileen was inspired by her newfound hobby. She needed a new obstacle to overcome (and check a box off of her bucket list), so she entered her a bodybuilding competition. With help from Gennifer Strobo of Bombshell Fitness, an IFBB professional, she started down a road that led to her passion.

Today, Eileen is a fitness competition regular. She has competed in numerous events, most recently attended the Eastern USA Championship and won first place in the Women’s Figure Master Over 50 division (she also came in fifth in a separate division). She is a nationally qualified NPC athlete and is already preparing for the 2016 championship. 

Outside of her decorated competition career, Eileen’s passion has also led to partnerships with Revolutionary Technology Nutrition, a fitness supplement company, and Elite 1 Fit Gear, an athletic apparel company. She also still works with Bombshell Fitness as one of their specialist.

“I love what I do and I am blessed to be in the best shape of my life instead of struggling with feeling over the hill,” Eileen said. “I have gained strength physically as well as mentally and I hope to inspire others to work to improve their health and general well-being through proper nutrition and exercise.

She added, “as a result of these lifestyle changes, I have reversed the threat of diabetes and no longer fear osteoporosis or growing older. Age is truly just a number. My number one answer when asked what one fitness tip is most important, I always say drink more water!”

A mother of three, Eileen also has received her black belt in Tang So Doo Karate and enjoys cooking and riding with her husband, Tom, on his Harley.

 

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Kankakee River Clean-Up

On September 20th, Aqua Illinois held this year’s second river clean-up event at the Kankakee River. The clean-up was a part of the Adopt-a-River program in which “foster parents” are responsible for a designated section of a river to clean twice a year. Aqua Illinois has been involved with Adopt-a-River program for the past 13 years.

 

This year, the clean-up was led and organized by Joel Mingus. He’s been involved for the past 5 years, this year being his second in organizing the event. In regards to the Kankakee River, which serves as a source for one of Aqua’s water treatment plants, Mingus commented, “Aqua’s support of this event reinforces the importance we place on the environment and our water source.” Aqua employees Kevin Culver, Don Denault, Tori Mury, Sean Culver, Kyle McKay and Sonia Fisher also helped out.

 

This Year’s Team

 

Mingus’ team comprised of Aqua Illinois employees, local residents and a Boy Scout troop scoured their mile of the river for litter. The team rid Kankakee of the usual wrappers, bottles, cans, plastic bags and other litter. What was more interesting, however, was how they came across pieces of a dilapidated dock and a relatively intact aluminum boat in the midst of their venture! This only goes to show the importance of the two clean-ups per year due to the random debris that can pop up at any given time.

These clean-ups are not only important, they’re also super fun! The biannual clean-up appears to be enticing to all ages as Joel’s kids took part in their second year this time around! “Our kids loved helping. They did get sidetracked by the shells and flowers, but they enjoyed spending time around the river,” he said. What’s great about having kids involved is the opportunity to educate them on the importance of clean water and a healthy environment.

 

Another Successful Clean-up

It was a successful day, according to Mingus. The kids had fun, the Kankakee River got a much-needed cleaning and Aqua Illinois was able to continue providing clean water to the area.

An event like Adopt-a-River is what Aqua America strives for in providing clean water and encourages you to get involved in. To find out how you can get involved with the Adopt-a-River program, head over to their site!

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Water Infrastructure: A Brief History

Think for a second: How did water infrastructure get so advanced?

Access to water has become almost second nature to us. We turn the faucet on and out comes clear, clean water. We don’t even think about it. Isn’t that amazing? A feat of human ingenuity, the way water is delivered to us today is by no means a simple feat. Take a look below for a brief timeline of the evolution of water infrastructure:

Sure, there were plenty of innovations and breakthroughs along the way, but think of the above as a major highlights reel. Let’s walk through them.

 


Ancient Rome

The Roman Empire made its mark on the Western world in a number of ways, most notably through groundbreaking advancements in engineering. The invention of the aqueduct, the world’s first formal plumbing and water transportation system, truly helped early Rome become as vast and forward-thinking as it became. Many European societies soon followed suit by adopting the aqueduct system.

 

The Enlightenment

As European civilization rapidly expanded and populations increased, new advancements in water were made, primarily in water sanitation. Private water companies were established to account for the vast intake of water, and developments in water filtration found sand filters to be useful (if rudimentary) in removing water of contaminants.

 

The 1900s

The use of filters in water sanitation was abandoned in the 19th century for chlorination. This process is the fundamental way we sanitize water today, and prevents the possible spread of diseases that filtration would oftentimes result in.

 

Today

Today, clean water is an absolute priority. New water sanitation techniques, like desalination and fluoridation offer innovative and forward-thinking means to ensuring our water is the best it can be. The Safe Drinking Water Act, passed in 1974, placed an emphasis on the quality of the water that is consumed. The act is still enforced today.

The future of water infrastructure is still unwritten. Between engineering and scientific breakthroughs throughout the course of history, we are always working toward making sure we all have access to safe, quality water. Water is one of our most precious and valuable natural resources, so we must all do our part to make sure that it remains in good hands.

 

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Stay Hydrated During Sport Season

 

 

Summer has come to an end and school is back in session. For all sport parents and players, this means practices have begun. With practice and games comes proper steps to staying safe. Helmets and pads? Check. Cleats? Check. Water? Water is an absolute must — and just as important as those shin guards.

 

At Aqua, we want everyone to know that hydration plays an important role for any type of fitness. Without proper hydration, you’re not able to perform at your peak, and if your kids play a sport, they can’t perform at their peak, either. So, we enlisted our friend Jesse Frank, Fitness Director and Vice President at UNITE Fitness, for some advice and we’re getting SOAKED in the idea of hydration. Check out these reasons why you should fill up your water bottle before heading to the soccer field, football field or gym:

 

1. 75 percent of your muscle is made of water, so drinking water before a workout will keep muscles from cramping. “Muscle cramping happens if there is a loss of electrolytes, so if you’re not properly hydrated before a workout, you run the risk of painful cramping. You should be highly hydrated before every workout,” says Frank.Ultimately, a hydrated body allows your performance to be better, faster and stronger. Especially when working out in mid-August through early September, when it can still be hot and humid in some parts of the U.S.

 

2. Did you know: although sports drinks are advertised as the best way to quench you or your child's thirst, water is still better to drink. Sports drinks contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar, causing blood sugar to drop and your body to crash. “Sports drinks have their place: when you’re competing at a high-level and in high heat,” Frank says. “Examples include marathons and half-marathons. Otherwise, water is the way to go.”

 

3. We talked about the importance of being hydrated before a workout (see #1), and now we’re going to talk about why it’s important to drink water during and after, too. In short, it helps your body in the recovery process. Water during a workout keeps your energy flow going. After is important because the water flushes out toxins so your muscles won’t go stiff and your organs can function properly.

 

4.  How much water is needed to be hydrated properly? Well, it depends on who you are. “You should take half of your body weight in ounces,” Frank recommends. “If you weigh 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces. And that’s generally without a lot of activity.” So what if you do a lot of activity?Frank says, “If you workout and you sweat a lot, replenishing your water weight is very, very important.” Remember: water before, during and after make for an energized, cramp-free athlete!

 

5.   Hungry, weak, fatigued: those do not sound like a way that anyone wants to feel. But, it’s how you can feel if you’re dehydrated, and your urine could be a clue as to whether or not you’re at that point. “Your urine should be clear or pale yellow. Dark yellow is a sign of dehydration,” Frank says. “Hunger, weakness, fatigue, loss of concentration — these are all signs of being dehydrated,” he explains.   

 

Now that everyone is up to date with their water facts, remember that school sports and working out  are about being healthy, having fun and staying safely hydrated. Frank and the Aqua team understand that water isn’t everyone’s favorite drink. “If it’s the taste of water that keeps you from being hydrated, you can always jazz up your water,” Frank says. Here’s an Aqua post with some ideas for doing just that: 5 Hacks That Make Drinking Water More Simple.

 

 

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Thank You Laborers!

The first Monday of each September is bittersweet.

On one hand, we have our Labor Day barbeques where we pass the time with some of our friends and family and try not to get ourselves into trouble with fireworks.  We enjoy one last weekend at the beach before sending our kids back to school (finally). Perhaps most importantly, football season begins.

On the other hand, summer is coming to an end. The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder.  But before we start thinking about frozen pipes- yikes - let’s take some time to thank the laborers.

Today we recognize our countless employees — as well as those in other fields — and thank them for their efforts.

Thank you to our crews who work tirelessly, responding to emergencies and ensuring water service through even the harshest of conditions. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to outstanding service through long hours and unpredictable circumstances while out in the field.

 

Today we owe them our thanks

 

The carpenters who build our homes…

The electricians who climb our power lines during thunderstorms to keep our lights on…

And (our personal favorites) the utility workers who keep clean, usable water flowing through our bathrooms and kitchens.

These men and women have time and time again demonstrated a true dedication to their work and have provided a strong and reliable infrastructure that we benefit from everyday.

So this weekend as we enjoy ourselves— let’s also show appreciation to those who make our lives easier.

 

Thank you from Aqua America!

 

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