January Newsletter



Nicole Lee Kamakahiolani Ellison (Fujioka-Krzyska)

1,000 Hours Outside

5 Easy Steps to be Healthier in the New Year

Recipe: Green Juice

Movement Motivation


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Nicole Lee Kamakahiolani Ellison (Fujioka-Krzyska)

Nicole is HHAPI’s Research Project Manager and recently hit her 5th year-mark with the program. She graduated from high school in Las Vegas and did her undergrad at San Diego State University in Anthropology. She received her Master’s in Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health from UH and is currently applying to UND to pursue an Indigenous Health PhD. She is passionate about helping her people and a true leader of our HHAPI `ohana.

Share your name, your `ohana/family names and your favorite `aina or wai...what land/water source are you most connected to and why?

My maiden name is Nicole Lee Kamakahiolani Fujioka-Krzyska. I am hapa. I am Hawaiian, Japanese, Polish, German, Swedish and Spanish. The Hawaiian side goes far back to Maui, then moved to the Big Island. My Tutu’s mom is from Kealakekua Bay. Then, they moved to O’ahu, where my Tutu went to Leilehua High School and was the first graduating class on the new campus in 1949. Then, my family then moved to the coast. My mom and most of her siblings went to Wai’anae High School. Unfortunately, we moved in 1988 and finished school in Las Vegas.

My favorite wai is Pokai Bay in Wai’anae or Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Pokai Bay, or the correct spelling is Poka’i Bay, is where I learned to swim. My Dad would take me every weekend to the beach, and we would just spend hours in the water. 

This is also the resting place for many of my family members that have passed away. My Tutu and Grandpa’s ashes were spread there. Also, during my Master’s program, when I went back home to UH, we had a project of creating a board and stone and our pōhaku came from Pokai Bay. Being the only Wai’anae student, I felt honored to have the stone come from where I grew up.

Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is the best it gets outside the islands. Amazing views, tiny beach with soft sand and water is sometimes warm…Bonus excellent food choices nearby including my favorite ice cream place. Lighthouse Ice Cream This is the perfect people watching beach.

What are you grateful for and why?

Grateful for my family and like the 3 close friends I have, but especially my husband. He is so kind and patient with me. He manages to make me laugh and helps me grow as a person. Our 10 years had some bumps along the way, but each bump has strengthened our friendship and love. This year makes our 10-year anniversary of being together and I look forward to many more decades of our ever-growing love.

What brings you joy?

Let’s be real, eating! Eating onolicious food is high up there in ways I find joy. Poi, laulau, kalua pig is like my all-time favorite, but close runner ups are Mexican food and In-n-out Burger. I also feel joy when making food for others and being outside on a hiking trail or in the garden. Washington State has some amazing hiking spots and an app that can find the right hike for your family. When I am near the water being on a long board and just feeling the water beneath me is pure bliss.

During difficult journeys, how do you heal and restore your health and mental well-being?

Last year was the most difficult journey I have ever experienced with my work family. My friend, my boss and my eating buddy died one month and one day after she shared she was diagnosed with cancer. My world was shattered. Heartbreak and confusion is the best way to describe the feelings. Healing has been a process. I did a grief counseling session. I recognized this sadness and lack of motivation is normal and ok. I learned that it is ok to not be ok. I shared my feelings with my team and cried. All of it made me uncomfortable and vulnerable but helped me process. I am still processing and often have triggers that send me to the tissue box but I finally feel some hope. I will honor my friend and continue our work in serving our communities.

How do you share your mana`o and mana

with your keiki?

I love to share things with my keiki through books. We have a collection of books from cultural to imagination to academics. I feel like sometimes when we say things to children, they take it in one ear and out the other but when you read the books over and over, they start recognize the storyline and learning words in the process. So, they are learning positive behavior and letters. Winnah!

What is your favorite way to move your kino (body)?

My favorite way to get some movement is my recumbent bike. When the pandemic hit, there was an apartment gym that was selling off their inventory and I scored a PRECOR 846i. It was the same sit-down bike I would use at the gym when I watched tv shows to distract me from biking. Riding my bike barefoot and watching Grey’s Anatomy sounds perfect!

What is a quote that empowers you?

"Let it go!" - Frozen

Funny yeah? Well think about it, get plenty super meaningful quotes out there but this right here. How many of us carrying around past junk? Anger? Jealously? Resentment? Not good for your mental or physical health. Gotta have a balance and being able to let things go and not let it stew or eat at you can be so freeing. You get to choose how you react, so you the one that is empowered to let it go.

Would you share an easy, healthy-heart recipe that your `ohana enjoys?

My favorite go to is spam musubi. I know what you thinking…spam? Heart healthy? Well, there is a turkey option, and it is fabulous and less heartburn hhaha. Follow your regular recipe for musubi but swap the spam choice. Try watering down your shoyu or whatever sauce you use to marinate your spam in. Also making it with brown rice or hapa stye (half brown/half white) helps. If you restrict yourself, you are going to want it more, so instead try to modify and maybe even add some veggies.

Did you know the average American child spends around 25-40 hours a year in free play outside but 1,200 a year on screens?


Family experiences outside in nature are both important and free! You’ll build memories together while moving your body, whether it’s taking a hike, exploring a neighborhood trail or finding a new adventure at a nearby beach, lake or nature reserve.


Prioritize more time in nature this year. You won’t regret it.


For more information, including free tracking sheets & hiking prompts, visit: 

Read More

5 Easy Steps to be Healthier in the New Year

What were your health wins last year? What areas of your health and well-being need some work? As we ring in a new year, it’s a good time to look at your personal health scorecard for last year. Did you focus on self-care this year? Make and keep the necessary doctor’s appointments? Prioritize family and relationships?


Here’s a checklist of five key areas of health, and easy-to-follow advice for how to make them a priority in the new year. 

Pick a month for medical maintenance

When is the last time you checked in with your doctor? If you don’t have a regular doctor, make 2023 the year you find one. Here’s a tip for sticking to a schedule for routine medical care: Schedule your annual physical and other exams during your birthday month. That will make it easier to build an annual habit and remember the last time you had an exam, mammogram, eye appointment, hearing test or dental cleaning. If your birthday falls near the end of the year, and it’s been a while since you’ve seen a doctor, pick another month that has meaning to you. It can be the month of your half-birthday, or you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a visit to your doctor. 

Set a regular bedtime

Prioritizing sleep is a relatively simple health fix but one many people struggle with. The payoff is significant. A number of issues, including heart health, weight gain and even marital problems, can be helped by regularly getting a better night’s sleep. Start with the basics. Is your bedroom a haven for sleep? Is the room at the right temperature? Is it dark enough? Is it a peaceful or a cluttered mess? Are the mattress, pillows and bedding comfortable?

If you’ve tried all these things and still aren’t sleeping well, talk to your doctor, who might recommend a sleep study. 

Notice your sedentary behaviors (and try to move more)


If you’ve been struggling to start an exercise habit, try a new strategy. Start noticing when you’ve been sitting for a while, and get up and move. You don’t have to go to the gym. Just do housework, take the dog for a walk or do 10 wall push-ups.


Studies have shown prolonged sitting may raise risk for heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. And even if you do exercise every day, you still need to be aware of how much you’re not moving the rest of the day.


Studies show that hours of sitting can erase the benefits of your morning workout. Use your phone or a fitness tracking device to count steps and resolve to get out of your seat every hour for a brisk walk break. An exciting new study showed that if you just pick up the pace a few minutes each day — on your walk into work, while you’re doing housework or taking the stairs — you’ll improve your health. 

Give time to your relationships


Study after study shows that strong social connections keep us healthier as we age. Resolve this year to socialize. Plan a weekly lunch out of the office with a co-worker. Join a book club or other social group. Call a friend for a weekly walk around the park. Having fun with other people is an investment in your long-term health. 

Add more variety to your diet


A lot of people are thinking about a resolution to lose weight. Say no to diet culture, and try this attainable and fun goal instead: Make your diet more interesting. Scientists have found that the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your gut microbiome, which is the name for the trillions of microbes that inhabit your intestinal tract and play a crucial role in your health. Research shows that eating a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is better for your microbiome. 

Recipe: Green Juice

This has become a family-favorite! My teen daughters love this for a healthy, quick breakfast or afterschool snack. -Marla (HHAPI’s Peer Educator)

½ cup apple juice

½ cup water

½ orange (peeled and cut)

½ frozen banana

Handful of spinach

Makes 1 serving.

Put all ingredients into a blender.  


Experiment with your favorite fruits and green veggies to come up with your favorite blend of flavors!

Movement Motivation

It’s important to enjoy the exercises and movement that you do! If you don’t, you’ll be less likely to do it.


I’ve found that I have to mix things up. I take strength training and kickboxing at the local YMCA and on Saturdays, I look forward to a hip hop dance class and then teach a 30-min yoga stretch class on Sunday mornings. I walk my dog and go on family hikes in nature, whenever I can. What movements do you enjoy? 

Here are small steps that can help motivate you:


·       Call a friend or family member and meet up to walk together-please make sure you’re walking in well-lit and safe areas. School tracks and neighborhoods with sidewalks is a good place to start.

·       Try a new class that you’ve been interested in; engage and talk with others; create new friendships and build community.

·       Schedule daily movement into your day, like an appointment or meeting. What time of the day works best for you: morning, lunch or after work?

·       While you’re exercising, remind yourself how good it feels, once you’re done! Those wonderful endorphins (chemicals that are released in the brain) make you feel energized after your body moves and sweats.

·       Do things you enjoy and that makes your body feel good

The health benefits of both the mind and body go beyond just movement, it’s truly medicine.

-Marla Alohilani Barhoum (HHAPI Health Educator)


Marla is a certified yoga instructor

& teaches free yoga classes through the Native Strength Revolution (NSR) app.


Take classes from the comfort of your home and stretch with me.


Download the app and then you can take the classes on your phone, iPad or laptop.


*Native Strength Revolution’s mission is to teach indigenous trainers. 200 hours of study and in-person training went into receiving our certification. All of the NSR teachers are great, and classes are free-of-charge, so that we can bring yoga to our people and communities that may not have access.

Other Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Health Studies

See below for more information about a COVID-19 study

and a memory loss and dementia study.