Diabetes Wake Up Call: Are You At Risk?

Diabetes-webMarch 25 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and the YMCA of Greater Houston urges you to learn of the risks and take action to prevent the disease.

Take a look at these staggering statistics:

• Nationally, more than 26 million people suffer from diabetes, and 79 million people have prediabetes.

• In Texas, 984,142 people ages 18 years and older (5.4% of this age group) have prediabetes

Individuals with prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. They are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

If you think you are at risk of are prediabetic, take this Type 2 diabetes risk test.

YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program
Finding out you are prediabetic can be scary, especially if it runs in your family. When Donna Robbins was diagnosed as prediabetic at a health screening, she knew her lifestyle had to change.

“I was scared. I know I have some diabetes in my family, and didn’t want to go down that road,” Donna said. “As far as my lifestyle, there was no activity. I was a couch potato and ate fast food.”

To help Donna eliminate her risk of being diabetic, she enrolled in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program last September with her son, Chris, who is also prediabetic.

This free program has shown to prevent or delay new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent overall and by as much as 71 percent in adults over the age of 60.

Many participants like Donna have seen positive results of the program. Donna reduced her body weight by 7 percent within the first four months, while Chris exceeded the program’s goal by three times. They have held each other accountable by eating healthier foods and going to the gym to put their lives back on track.

“I’ve been exercising and walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week,” Donna said. “I’ve been able to wear clothes that haven’t fit in 10 years. It feels great.”

The support and education you’ll receive through YDPP will empower you to gain control of your prediabetes. To find out if you are eligible for the program, take this test. The program is offered at select YMCAs throughout the Houston area.

For additional questions about YDPP, please contact Lharissa Jacobs at ljacobs@ymcahouston.org.

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Need a summer job? Work at the YMCA

Mason

Mason Badillo, 22, enjoys working with kids at the Y and getting professional experience to help him in his future career.

Mason Badillo finds it rewarding to have a summer job where he can have fun, get paid and be a role model for kids. What does he do? He is a YMCA day camp counselor.

“I did numerous activities with the kids last summer,” said Badillo, 22. “I went swimming with my group, helped them with their arts and crafts and science projects, played sports and went on some amazing field trips.”

If you’re interested in working at the Y this summer, the YMCA of Greater Houston is holding a summer job fair on Saturday, March 15 from 9 am to 12 pm at every Y throughout the Houston area. The Y is looking to fill more than 1,100 seasonal positions, such as day camp counselors, lifeguards, swim instructors, sports camp counselors and more.

Working at the Y is a great opportunity for high school and college students who want to earn some extra money and have a flexible work schedule. Badillo worked part-time at the Langham Creek YMCA while attending Lone Star College. When he transferred to Sam Houston State University, he continued working for the YMCA in Huntsville. He likes the family atmosphere the Y provides.

Summer staff get to work in a wide variety of positions that are fun and rewarding.

Summer staff work in a wide variety of positions that are fun and rewarding.

“I could have just gone to school and not worked, or worked somewhere else, but I didn’t,” Badillo said. “I love working at the Y. Not only do you feel that your co-workers are great, but the members give you a sense of strong community, too.”

Besides being a day camp counselor, Badillo has also gained experience in the Child Watch area, the Wellness Center and the Welcome Center desk. He said working in various positions at the Y has helped him gain professional, real-life experience that will be helpful for his career path.

“The Y is my second job in my life. I’ve worked there since 2009,” Badillo said. “I’ve learned the value of hard work and how to manage money. And in working with kids, the Y has taught me responsibility as well. The Y has given me a great foundation.”

If you are energetic and have a passion for working with kids, you might be just who we’re looking for to become a part of our staff this summer!

YMCA of Greater Houston Summer Job Fair

Where: All Houston-area YMCAs; Find the YMCA nearest you
When: Saturday, March 15 from 9 am to 12 pm
What to bring: A resume and a completed application, which can be obtained in the lobby on the day of the fair
More information: For more information about the job fair, and a schedule of trainings, click here.

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Go On A Family Adventure

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Steve, Miriam and Scotty Spears had a great time doing high adventure activities and spending time together at family camp at YMCA Camp Cullen.

Imagine a weekend where you can let your kids can go horseback riding, fly through the trees on a zip line, scale up a climbing tower and sing campfire songs. Now imagine doing this as an adventure with the whole family.

That’s what the Spears family did on their recent family weekend camping trip to YMCA Camp Cullen in nearby Trinity, Texas.

“It’s nice to come to a place like this and spend time (together) as a family,” said Steve Spears. “The staff does a really good job of getting everybody involved. The food was good, and the activities were well planned out.”

familygames

Families participate in all kinds of fun games led by camp counselors.

Other family camp activities include:
• Riding a giant swing  known as “The Screamer”
• Participating in arts and crafts
• Playing family games
• Grilling s’mores around a campfire

Fun, energetic camp counselors help engage each family and ensure everyone has a great time. And after the families are done having fun, they can rest peacefully in private cabins complete with bunk beds, air conditioning, and private bathrooms.

Families who spend time at Camp Cullen bond while taking part together in the day’s events. Steve and his wife, Miriam, saw their son, Scotty, make friends with other kids and participate in activities he had never done before.

“I was scared before I went on the zip line, but I did it,” Scotty, 9, said. “It was my favorite part. It was so fun.”

YMCA Camp Cullen offers themed family camps once a month, with the next session offered February 14-16 for Valentine’s Day.

Other upcoming Family Camp dates and themes are:
• March 7-10, Mardis Gras
• March 12-15, St. Patrick’s Day
• April 11-13, Family Camp
• May 9-11, Mother’s Day

Learn more about family camp>

Summer Camp

tubing

These kids got a real thrill from going tubing on Lake Livingston.

YMCA Camp Cullen is primarily a summer overnight camp, which offers week-long sessions for kids ages 7-16 from June through August. Activities include water sports, ropes courses, a zip line, horseback riding, and more.

Kids get the opportunity to develop new skills, make new friends and gain independence away from home. They also learn to appreciate the great outdoors with their friends.

Register your child for a summer camp session>

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Turn Your Resolutions Into Lifestyle Changes

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The New Year has just begun, and you’re motivated to start your journey to become healthier and fitter than in the past. As the year goes on, you may encounter some obstacles.

Rather than setting resolutions that make you feel overwhelmed and unattainable, the YMCA of Greater Houston challenges you to set your sights on a healthier plan for yourself. It’s a plan that you’ll stick to throughout the year and, with a little effort, can become a routine. By starting out small and going at your own pace, your plan will help you make the lifestyle changes that are realistic and more likely to be reached.

Here are some examples:

Do not go on a “diet:” The term “diet” implies something temporary, unsustainable, undesirable, and usually unsuccessful. Instead of trying the newest fad, we recommend a simple alternative: change the way you think about food.

Drink more. No, we aren’t talking about alcohol. We are talking about water. Taking in your recommended dose of eight glasses a day or more will keep you hydrated throughout the day.

Exercise Less. Many people, when exercising, tend to over train and get little results. Start small by doing short workouts, concentrating on good, proper form. Allow your body a day or two to recover between workouts and avoid you getting burned out.

Eat more. No, not fast food, candies and soda. When consuming simple sugars, they digested quickly and stored as fat in your body. Instead, eat more foods that are closest to their natural state, such as fruits and vegetables. Proteins, such as chicken, fish, eggs yogurt and nuts give your body the nutrients needed to gain muscle, lose weight and recover quickly from workouts.

As you continue eating healthy and working out, it is important to be disciplined, but at the same time don’t be so hard on yourself. Get creative with how can exercise, and be patient.  Here are some additional tips on physical activity:

Get outside. Physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be what is traditionally thought of as “exercise.” Walking, gardening, and other forms of recreation are considered physical activity and are good for your health.

Know that progress takes time. The three primary elements of a physical activity routine which determines one’s total exercise volume are: frequency (how frequently you engage in physical activity), duration (the duration of physical activity sessions), and intensity (the level of physical exertion). Increase your physical activity level (and caloric expenditure) by steadily increasing one of these components at a time.

Set realistic fitness goals. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself with physiologically impossible goals. Zero in on a physical activity plan that fits your daily schedule that you can maintain. Dramatically increasing the frequency and duration and intensity of your workouts all at once is not likely to last long; it is much more likely to leave you with aches and pains that prevent you from exercising altogether.

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Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

9 Tips to Change Your Life

Did you meet your New Year’s resolutions this year? If not, don’t feel too bad. Of the 45 percent of Americans who set New Year’s resolutions goals each year, only 8 percent of people actually achieve them, according to a research study by the University of Scranton.

Long-term New Year’s goals can easily become overwhelming. If your goals are unrealistic, it is easy to burn out or find yourself wanting to give up. Choose goals that are specific, measurable and achievable, as well as realistic and time-limited. This will make them easier to accomplish and maintain.

Some examples of short-term goals could be:Personal training
• Run/walk one mile a week
• Exercise for 15 minutes a day
• Eat a side of vegetables with your meal four times a week

Rather than setting “New Year’s resolutions,” the YMCA of Greater Houston encourages you to make “lifestyle changes.”  This mentality requires a commitment to less intense, smaller changes that are accomplished over long periods of time and may require extra support. By changing your perspective, you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals, feel better about yourself and see better results.

Below are some tips to help you make a lifestyle change:

1.  Have fun: Find a physical activity that you enjoy. If you are having fun, you’ll stick with it.

2.   Start Slow: If you are not doing any activity right now, start by doing a short 10-15 minute workout. Then add 10 minutes per week, with the goal of 150 minutes per week by end of April.

3.  Seek Support: Find a friend or family member to help you to stay on target and hold you accountable. The YMCA’s group exercise classes are a great place to meet people working on similar goals.

4.  Write It Down: Keep a journal of your activity and progress. Write down what you did, how long it took and how it made you feel and what you can do better next time.

5.   Embrace the Emotion: Let the good feeling you get while working out motivate you. The physical changes you want to see will come with time. First, you have to make regular activity a habit.

6.    Call in the Experts: If you get stuck, ask for help. The YMCA personal trainers are experts at helping people get started and staying on track.
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7.   Take it One Goal at a Time: It can be overwhelming trying to do too much. Set a small goal that you can meet.  Only add to it once it has been achieved.

8.  Do a Little More: Do something that takes more physical effort, even if it’s less convenient: Take the stairs, park far away, pace while talking on the phone, stand up during TV commercial break, vacuum your house once more per week. By doing any of these things, you’ll burn some extra calories.

9.   Make up for Temptations:  If you know you will be eating that extra piece of cake, walk an extra 10 minutes that day.

As you make these healthy lifestyle changes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Each month, re-evaluate your progress and the goal itself to make sure you are still on track.The Y has a wide variety of personal training, group exercise classes and healthy living experts to help you with your goals.

To learn more about how to make a lifestyle change for you and your family, stop by your local YMCA and speak with a health and wellness expert.  Click here to see our map of all our Y locations.

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Why We are Thankful

At the Y, we have a lot to be thankful for year-round, but Thanksgiving seems like the perfect time to recognize all of the reasons why.

 Here are the top 5 reasons we are thankful this holiday season:

1.  Members: Whether joining as an individual or a family, all of our members become a part of the large YMCA family. Active Older AdultsThe smiling children in Child Watch, After School, swim lessons and our many other youth programs warm our hearts each day. We love seeing our Active Older Adults join us for fun field trips, a weekly card game or a good game of pickleball. We hope you like coming to the Y as much as we enjoy having you here.

2.  Volunteers/Board Members: Our volunteers and board members are super heroes. By giving their time to coach a season of sports or help us raise money for our Annual Campaign, Youth Sportsthey are making a difference in the lives of children and families in our community. We could never repay them for the time, and often money, they give to the Y to help strengthen the communities we serve.

3.  Donors: We cherish every donation, big or small. Donors make it possible for us to provide more than $6.5 million in financial assistance for YMCA programs and membership to families who otherwise would be unable to afford to participate.

4.  Community Partners: The contributions that local businesses, organizations, foundations and churches provide are invaluable to us. From community gardens to outreach centers, your partnership enables us to increase our community reach.Personal Training

5.  Staff: Our caring staff members change lives each day they come to work. They offer motivation for new members who are struggling to get back into a healthy routine, a smile for a child in need of one, support for struggling families and so much more.

We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! We hope you and your family have a very happy holiday.

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It was Stressful in the Beginning, but I Lost 20 Pounds

Impact of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program

Maria Pena’s Y experience started because she received some troubling news about her health. “My doctor sent me to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. He told me last November that he was giving me diabetes medication because my levels were a little high.” Maria found her motivation to start the program from her family. She explained that her daughters came home the following month and said they were worried about her because she looked tired. Maria also had a tough time getting around because of the pain in her legs.

YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program

Maria Pena (before)

The program lasted five months and despite a little apprehension, Maria’s journey through the program yielded terrific results. “I can’t say enough, I was very surprised with my results. While I know it’s not easy to commit to a program, people should know the class is available. It was a great influence on me.” Her coach Marta Guerrero also reported that Maria lost 12.4% of her weight while her original goal was 7%. Marta said that Maria’s A1C even went back to normal levels, which means her chances for having diabetes dropped exponentially.

According to doctors, one of the most undervalued causes for diabetes is the way we eat our food. Maria offered a few tips she learned from YDPP, “I cooked quite a bit already, but I wasn’t looking at my portion size. I cook with spray instead of oil now, and I pretty much threw flour tortillas out the window. I ate many fruits and vegetables during the program, and to be honest, I wasn’t exercising at all before.”

YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program

Maria Pena (after) and her husband

Many can determine if they are a diabetes candidate by their family history. Maria explained why she was originally worried about becoming a diabetic. “My mom and stepfather are both diabetics, and I have to take my mom to the doctor and make sure she has the right medication.”

She is happy to report that, “I can walk now and am not in any kind of pain! My husband says that I look like I did when we were first married. The pain was unbearable. Now I feel energized, and we hike together.”

For more information about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please click here.

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Cancer Survivors Find Support at the Y

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is filled with uplifting stories that feature individuals who have overcome obstacles and survived cancer. Sharon Beaman was kind enough to share her Y story with us and tell us how the LIVESTRONG program changed her life.

Sharon started her 12-week program with the Y in May when her doctor told her she was in remission.

“After several rounds of chemotherapy and all of the medication, I had gained a little over 20 pounds. My friends told me about the LIVESTRONG program. I managed to lose 19 pounds over the summer through the program.”

For Sharon though, the class offered much more than just the ability to lose weight.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA“The program ended up being so much more. I got to meet different women with different cancers, and you don’t get that experience in the hospital. It was refreshing to talk to people about treatments we didn’t like and how our friends reacted. Everyone looked forward to it, and everyone became great friends. It was a tremendous support group.”

Sharon also credits a few individuals within the program for the impact it had on her.

“Debbie Slaughter was our leader. She basically spent a lot of time introducing us to everything the Y had to offer, from Yoga to dance to the weight room. I wouldn’t have been as motivated to go work out on my own, but Debbie and my friends helped me stay strong and stay active. It made a drastic impact on all of us.”

In addition to the friends she made during the class, Sharon says the class also changed her approach toward healthy living and LIVESTRONG at the YMCAcreating a workout routine.

“The LIVESTRONG program made me so much stronger physically. After six months of sitting in a chair and doing nothing, I can do an hour and a half of cardio a week and Pilates. Emotionally, it changes your perspective when you meet other people from different backgrounds that encourage you to continue to fight. One lady survived brain cancer and a stroke while having her brain tumor removed. It puts into perspective that there are other people out there that are fighting just as hard and have overcome so many big obstacles.”

Because of generous donors within the Houston community, the Y can offer the program at no cost. It was also one of the factors that played into the decision making for Sharon.

“If there was a cost, I don’t know if I would’ve signed up. The fact it didn’t cost anything was a big open door and a huge gift. To me it means a lot that I can tell anyone I know that the Y is awesome because the Y and this class have changed my life.”

Among her tremendous accomplishments through the LIVESTRONG program, one of her greatest achievements to date came fairly recently.

“I’ve returned to work. I have a part-time job. I can swim now. I can bike with my family. It feels great that I can do much of what I did before.”

Click here to learn more about LIVESTRONG at the YMCA.

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Bullying: Be Aware. Take a Role. Step Up.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is a real problem that demands awareness and action.

Responding to the cause, Houston’s A.D. Players, Holocaust Museum Houston and the YMCA of Greater Houston are partnering to raise awareness and help prevent bullying in schools, both this month and through other ongoing efforts during the year.

The Bully Show!The Bully Show!

Through November 9, A.D. Players will perform The Bully Show! by Brian Guehring at Grace Theater. This engaging and interactive play actually involves the audience in the performance, helping them internalize and empathize more closely with bullying from all perspectives—that of the bully, the victim and the spectator.

The Bully Show! aims to challenge upper elementary and middle school students to reconsider some of their assumptions about bullies and victims, to realize some of the consequencesThe Bully Show! of bullying and to stimulate further discussions on this issue.

A.D. Players will perform The Bully Show! for YMCA After School kids at the MD Anderson Family YMCA on October 24, the Trotter Family YMCA on October 28 and the Weekley Family YMCA on November 11.

Ticket Discounts for Members

Y members receive a discounted ticket price of $8 ($12 value) for The Bully Show!. To buy discounted tickets, call the box office at 713-526-2721 and use promotion code: YMCA.

Preventing an Epidemic

Bullying takes many forms and is not particular about age or venue. The same person who bullies in school, is more likely to grow up to bully in the workplace.All Behaviors Count

The Holocaust Museum’s “All Behaviors Count” (ABC) program examines the five forms of social cruelty – taunting, bullying, rumoring, ganging up and exclusion from the group. Using the “ABC” curriculum, children and adults learn skills to identify and respond to social cruelty as empowered upstanders.

Both The Bully Show! and the “ABC” program can be great tools used to uniquely augment bullying education led in school by counselors and teachers and for parents to use at home.

What can you do?

Kids and parents need to understand at least two things about bullying.

Kids: Bullying is real and prevalent, and certain things in society, like the internet, have made it easier.

Parents: Kids learn about bullying from role models; some parents bully kids on behalf of their own kids, sometimes online and sometimes in person. There’s so much in life that parents cannot control, but they can definitely control their own behavior modeling and what behavior they endorse in others for the sake of our children.

Be aware. Take a role. And step up.

Excerpted from an article by Houston Family Magazine

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Former Houston Texan Chester Pitts Talks Childhood Obesity

Several times a year we profile a Houston celebrity and ask them to share their health and wellness tips. We recently had the opportunity to talk with former Houston Texans star and current The Amazing Race contestant Chester Pitts about healthy living, primarily for our youth and families to help beat childhood obesity.

Chester Pitts

Former Houston Texan Chester Pitts emcees at the 2013 Total Jingle Bell Run Kick-Off at Discovery Green.

Why is it important that you and others step out in front of an issue like childhood obesity?

Chester: It’s a problem; childhood obesity is recognized nationwide as one of the biggest problems in this country. There are 4 and 5 year old kids eating fast food a couple times a day. I understand the time constraints families go through and all of those issues, but you have to find a way to do the right thing and do right on behalf of your children. It is so important. It’s dragging the country down. I’m a firm believer in doing things the right way and doing the right things for kids.

What are some habits that we can teach our children?

Chester: You need to have a regimen and schedule. You have to do the same things each day from breakfast to school to exercise to homework to sleep. Everything can fit and everything can work if you take time to plan it out. Based on where you or your family is at physically, you will have a greater knowledge of when to spend more time exercising, studying, etc.

What kind of a message should we send to kids about staying healthy?

Chester PittsChester: Find time to work out, find ways to eat healthier and search for different areas that you can improve on for your family’s health. I’ve lost a lot of weight since retiring, and it was a tough transition. It’s important to realize though, you’re not the only one working hard to make a difference in our country’s lifestyle. The sooner you start to make a change, the more likely you’ll be to inspire others around you to do the same.

Have you had any experiences with the YMCA?

Total Jingle Bell RunChester: I’ve known about the Y since I went to the Y as a kid. Actually at my charity, the Chester Pitts Charitable Foundation, we serve a good majority of kids and families that are members of the Y. The folks at the Y are good people, and the kids are great. We constantly try to work with them and reach out to them for different events with our foundation.

Join the effort to raise awareness and stop childhood obesity.

We want to give a big thank you to Chester Pitts for his continued partnerships with the YMCA through his foundation and most recently emceeing for the Total Jingle Bell Run Kick-Off at Discovery Green.

Total Jingle Bell Run

The 30th Annual Total Jingle Bell Run, benefiting the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA, is Sunday, December 15, 2013. Participants can choose from a 5-mile run, 3-mile run/walk, 3-mile family run/walk or kids fun run.

Click here for more information and to register for the Total Jingle Bell Run.

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