Author Archives: Anne Keen

YMCA of Central Florida Debuts Newly Renovated Family Center in Lake Mary

Community leaders to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the J. Douglas Williams YMCA Family Center on June 19


ORLANDO, Fla. – (June 16, 2019) – The YMCA of Central Florida will showcase its newly renovated J. Douglas Williams YMCA Family Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and facility tour on June 19 at 11:30 a.m. Wayne M. Densch Charities and the Leonard Williams Sr. Family donated $1 million to make significant improvements to the facility, including critical enhancements to the parking lot, front entrance and pool area, as well as renovations to the group exercise room and gymnasium. A front door canopy will also be completed in the fall.

“We’re proud to serve more than 15,000 Lake Mary neighbors through the impactful programs and services offered at our J. Douglas Williams YMCA,” says Dan Wilcox, President and CEO of the YMCA of Central Florida. “Wayne Densch Charities’ and the Leonard Williams Sr. Family’s continuous support of the Y has been critical in helping us invest in important improvements to our Family Centers and continue to meet the evolving needs of our community.”

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Y relies on the help from community partners to further its cause of strengthening communities. With this latest gift, the Wayne Densch Charities and Leonard Williams Sr. Family has provided more than $3.5 million in funding to the Y during the past three decades.

About the YMCA of Central Florida

The YMCA of Central Florida is one of the area’s largest nonprofits, serving more than 415,000 Central Floridians per year through a focus on Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. With a Christian-based mission to improve lives and communities, it operates 22 YMCA locations across Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Marion counties. This mission is expanded beyond the four walls of the Y through community-based programs to combat chronic disease; boost children’s after-school safety and learning; and strengthen fragile neighborhoods.

To learn more, visit the YMCA of Central Florida website at or follow on Facebook or Instagram.


Keeping Your Diet on Track

Keeping your “diet” on track!

Do you feel that you are on the “diet” yo-yo? You lose a few pounds, and then put them back on plus a few more. You “diet” and “diet” and think that you are being good but if you forget some of the small things that may just be the cause of keeping those extra pounds on. First, let’s forget about the word diet. Make it a commitment to your lifestyle for overall better health. Start by keeping a diary or log of all the foods you eat. Good, bad or indifferent. Start by keeping the diary for a week or two, this will help you to understand what you are really eating instead of what you think you are eating. Then continue to track your eating habits. As you improve your habits the easier it will become to recognize when you are eating right and when you stray off course.

A few key things to think about:

  1. Breakfast can often times throw off our whole day. Keep breakfast to approximately 300 calories. Avoid sugary drinks and breakfast cereals, doughnuts, cakes, etc. Stick with a healthy protein and a complex carb such as a piece of fruit or oatmeal. This will help to curb your mid-morning hunger pains.
  2. Look for healthy fats throughout the day. Unsaturated is the way to go. These include: olives, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds just to name a few.
  3. Look for packaged products to have 140mg or less of sodium per serving. Approximately 2300mg per day which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon.

Did you forget to count the liquid calories?

It’s easy to forget that the things we drink have calories. In fact, some beverages have more calories than an entire plate of food. On average, 20% of our daily calories come from what we drink. So as you drink your juice with breakfast, have that sports drink at the Y, or drink a glass of soda at dinner, think and journal about the calories you’re adding. Don’t forget to hydrate your body with plenty of water throughout the day, which has zero calories.

Did you skip a meal?

Thinking of skipping a meal to save a calorie or two? Think again, skipping meals can actually have an opposite effect by slowing down your metabolism, causing uneven blood sugar levels, and increasing cravings. Try eating at fairly regularly scheduled times so your body can burn those fats and calories. When your body knows it’s going to eat regularly, it keeps working and doesn’t store those calories for “an emergency” (better known as starvation mode).

Did you check your portion size?

3-6 ounces of protein should suffice as a general rule for average sized adults, but may need to adjust based on size. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. Keep salad dressings to a minimum, 1 tablespoon should do the trick and give it a good toss. You will be surprised how well it coats your salad. Add in whole grains and now you are looking at a well-balanced plate. Since we eat with our eyes, if our plate looks empty we tend to pile on the food. So here’s a simple trick: plate your food up on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. You can always go back for seconds. Chances are pretty good you won’t need to! And by all means, take your time when eating. It’s not a race to see who can finish first and you will be able to feel when you’re full.

Did you eliminate your treats?

Remember it’s OK to treat yourself every once in a while. If you stick to with 90/10 rule you will be fine. Remember not to punish yourself or call the diet “off” because you had a bad day.  It’s not the end of the world. The last thing you want to do is eliminate all the foods you enjoy. Eliminating makes diets difficult and often times painful. Taking away sweets, chips and other snacks totally can cause cravings. Then, the first thing we do when we get the chance is eat those things when no one is looking, or the day we finish our “diet” we go on a binge. The fact is that we can and should live on a healthy lifestyle all the time, enjoy the foods we eat and never feel guilty if we indulge once in a while. Adding in foods that are naturally sweet and salty will also help your cravings.

The goal! Eat! Yes, eat and eat 3 healthy meals per day. Make sure they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Include fruits and veggies at every meal.  A plate with different colored fruits and vegetables means you are getting all that good nutrition your body needs. If you feel hungry in between meals, snack on things like nuts, seeds, rice cakes, carrot, celery or even a piece of whole grain toast with some peanut butter.

Enjoy life and I urge you not to think of it as a “diet”, but rather as part of a healthful lifestyle!

Have questions? Visit the YMCA virtual chef page at

Or for healthy eating recipes from the Y visit 

Back To School

Try it—You’ll Like It

While sitting at dinner the other night with a group of friends, the conversation turned to talk about our children and the fun summer they have all had so far. We quickly realized, staring us straight in the face… it’s that time again. Yes, I am talking about back to school. We need to go shopping and buy all those supplies that are on the list, but the one thing that is never on the list is healthy lunch and snack ideas for our kids.

“I vow that this year it’s going to be different!” One of our friends stated. “How is that?” I asked. “The kids will have a healthy breakfast and lunch every day!” A conversation began to ensue. What was quickly realized is that as parents, we have the good intention of feeding our children a healthy nutritious meal. Reality however, is that after fighting with our children a week and a half in, there seems to be a shift in parental balance of power and we… well, we give up.

Yes, I understand the ease that comes with putting a box of sugar sweetened cereal or some pastries on the breakfast table. Throwing some Lunchables in a bag and calling it a day. But, what if I told you I can give you a few easy breakfast and lunch items that your kids will actually love and won’t break the bank. You’re probably saying… “Gary, you’re crazy!”

So, here it goes… try these and see what happens.  You will enjoy these too.


Blueberry Oat Pancakes – Make these gems in advance in silver dollar size and freeze them. Pop them in the toaster for a quick, easy breakfast

Frittata with Spinach and Asparagus – Bake these ahead of time in a muffin tin. Freeze and pop in the microwave to reheat.

Banana Mango Smoothie with Spinach – Add in some fresh berries and it will mask the green color and you get your kids to drink some green juice.


Cauliflower Fried Rice – Make sure to add in some chicken or shrimp to get your little ones some extra added protein. (This works great with leftover chicken or even a store bought rotisserie chicken.)

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs – These are great for dinner and lunch box friendly during the week.

Butternut Squash Mac ’n Cheese – Need I say more? It’s mac ’n cheese.


Everyday Snacking Granola – Also great on your morning oatmeal or mixed into a yogurt parfait with berries.

Creamy Hummus – Send this along with your little one’s favorite snackable veggies.

By: Gary Appelsies, MS, CHHC, AADP Director of Healthy Eating


2018 Christian Values Conference

What happens when you take 400 teens and adults from all over the US and put them together for a week in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains? The answer is as simple as this quote by one of our teens: “This was the best day of my life.”


Once again, the YMCA of Central Florida loaded up buses and made the journey to the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina, for the 2018 Christian Values Conference in July. Throughout the week our 50+ teens had the opportunity to disconnect from the distractions and hectic pace of life and enjoy authentic community. They spend time playing hard, praying hard and reaching deep to make the most of each moment on the mountain.


During the time together, our group attended devotion services each morning and evening, and spent time in small family groups exploring relationships with each other and God. As the week went on, each participant learned the importance of gratitude, forgiveness and that we never have to do this life alone.


We all need the chance to get away and unplug from the craziness of our everyday lives even if it for just a few minutes.  Find the time today that will recharge your spirit and reconnect to authentic community.


For more information about Christian Values Camp, please contact Madison Jamerson, Middle Schools & Teen Program Coordinator, at [email protected].

Not Plan “B” (Plan Be: Engaged)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Many of you have heard the famous poem Foot Prints in the Sand. It tells of a fictional story of man walking the beach with God and looks back to see only one set of footprints at times in his life when things were difficult. As he asked God why he wasn’t with him in those times, God responds, “with those were the times I carried you.” I recently heard a pastor point out that it’s not called “butt prints in the sand” but, footprints. It speaks of someone who was actively doing something. He was still moving forward, even when he was being carried. The man was engaged in life and was living. You and I were made to thrive, not just survive. So many of life’s stressors can weigh us down and make us want to sit on the sand and stop moving forward. Make a plan to Be: Engaged in life. Learn something new today, forgive someone, or maybe even yourself, laugh, smile at a stranger, volunteer, go for a walk on the beach. Plan to Be: Engaged.
by Chad Garmon, Executive Director of Christian Initiatives & Community Partnerships

It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Diet

I was recently in a discussion with a group of parents. The conversation started out by talking about “diets” and making lifestyle changes. The conversation quickly turned and the focus became healthy eating ideas that the whole family can enjoy. I was truly inspired at some of the great ideas brought up in the discussion. This group has got it! It is not about their individual “diet” and health, but rather, they were truly focused on lifestyle changes that would affect the whole family.

The key is to get your kids involved and, as I have said before, model the behavior. If you eat healthy and encourage it with your children, they will eat healthy too. Start with some easy lessons and create some sort of “family code.”  This code applies to adults and kids alike. Is it ok to enjoy some junk food once in a while? Yes, of course it is. What we tend to forget is that it is not always about what we eat but also, when, how and why.

  1. Eat real food

What is real food? Real food is not processed or heated up in the microwave. It includes nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and grains, avoiding empty calories that just fill you up and don’t help your body grow, heal and fight off disease.

  1. Choose water

Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. After oxygen, water is the body’s most important nutrient. Your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, so it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.

  1. Take your time

If you eat at the table with your family and friends, you can stimulate your brain, converse and learn about the people you love. Try this even twice a week and your family dynamic will change.

  1. Create an eating curfew

No snacking after 7:00pm.

  1. Learn to listen to your body

Ask yourself a question or two before you take your next bite. Why am I eating? If your answer to this question is anything other than, “I am hungry!” Then, you might want to think again. If your body is telling you its full, then it probably is.

  1. Make it a family affair

You’ve heard the saying “birds of a feather…”.  If you shop for food together, cook together and eat together, you are likely to live long lives together. Being part of the process gives children a deeper appreciation for the foods they eat, and will help to build good habits that will last a lifetime.


By: Gary Appelsies MS, CHHC, AADP
Director of Healthy Eating

Hydrate to Beat the Heat

Hydrate to Beat the Heat

It’s summer in Florida, which means extreme heat, high humidity and hydration challenges. Getting enough to drink is important whether you’re working out, traveling or just sitting in the sun. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the vessels to the muscles and it helps the muscles work efficiently. It also keeps your body temperature better regulated, joints more lubricated, and protects sensitive tissues. Dehydration can be a very serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from fatigue, swollen feet and headaches to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

But how much water or fluid should you drink each day? According to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s a simple question with no easy answer.” No single formula fits everyone. Here are a few ways to determine what your body needs:

  1. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake from both food and beverages is:
    – About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
    – About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
  1. If you get thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. Instead, most doctors recommend paying attention to your urine. Pale & clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.
  1. If you do any activity that makes you sweat – exercise, swimming, going to the beach – you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after these activities. If exercise is very intense and lasts more than an hour, a sports drink can replace minerals in your blood (electrolytes) lost through sweat. But, limit these drinks at other times.

Knowing how much fluid you SHOULD have is much different than actually acquiring it.  Consider committing to drinking the recommended amount for at least 24 hours to start. Journal how you feel before you start and then how you feel after. You will be surprised at the difference in most cases.

According to the National Institute of Health, another great way to get your fluid each day is through fruit and vegetables that are high in water, such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, bell peppers and spinach. Up to 20% of your water intake could come from food. Check out this summer recipe for grilled peaches from our Director of Healthy Eating, Chef Gary Appelsies.

By: Kelly Prather, Executive Director of Health Strategies & Member Experience

Father’s Day is a Reminder of the Important Role Dads Play in Children’s Lives

Over 100 years ago, while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon, Sonora Louis Smart Dodd wondered why there was no similar holiday for fathers. One of six children, Dodd’s father was a single father and she felt he and others deserved to be honored. After securing support from ministers in Spokane, Wash., her idea came to fruition with the first Father’s Day celebration at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Many years passed before the day became a national holiday, but today we use the day to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives.

On Sunday, June 17, the YMCA of Central Florida joins the nation in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the influence fathers and adult male role models have in children’s lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million—or one in three—children live without their biological fathers. Societal factors such as unemployment, work-life balance or a lack of resources can affect a father’s ability to seek support in strengthening his parenting skills and becoming more engaged in the lives of his children. The Y, a leading nonprofit in fostering positive youth development, is dedicated to providing both resources and opportunities for fathers to further involve themselves in the well-being and development of their children.

“On Father’s Day, we celebrate dads and all male adult role models as we recognize how important it is for children to grow up with men who are committed, responsible and involved,” said Dan Saginario, Vice President of Brand & Cause Advocacy, YMCA of Central Florida. “Dads need support to be the best parents and caregivers they can be, and this holiday helps to remind us of that.”

The YMCA of Central Florida offers parent/child programs and volunteer opportunities at many of our locations. Check with your local Y for more information.

Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Them

Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Them

When I became a father 16 years ago, I could never imagine how I would relish in my daughter’s smile and how she would warm my heart every day.

She’s a true inspiration. She gives me purpose in my life and inspires me to be a better person. Whether you’re a dad or male role model, you understand how special and rewarding this role can be. Sure, it has its challenges and may not always be as easy as we make it look, but it’s the simple, every day moments you share with your children that leave the biggest impact on your life and theirs.

June is Men’s Health Month, so now is the time to take control of your health. I continually hear from friends how so many men at younger ages are falling ill with chronic illness and disease. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, just to name a few. Think about the value that your life adds to your family. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dad or not, you bring a special value to those who care about you.

Let’s face it, guys, we are not the kind to go to the doctor. “Oh, it’s probably nothing,” is not the answer. It could be more serious than you think. I urge you to make a commitment to your family that you will take care of yourself so that you can take care of them for many years to come.

Here are some tips to get you on the road to being healthy:

Diet: With so many diets and trends out there, how do you know if you are eating healthy? It’s simpler than you think! Add in more fruits and veggies to your diet. Replace heavy fatty proteins with leaner choices. Hydrate with plenty of water throughout the day, cut down your portion sizes, and by all means, eliminate some of those processed foods, sugars, and refined grains.

Move: Even a short 10–15 minute walk a day can help you build your endurance and reduce your risk of diabetes, having a heart attack or dying from heart disease. Put one foot in front of the other, and go a bit further each day.

Get checked: If you are age 50 or older, get screened for colorectal cancer. Of the various cancer screenings available to men, this one is of the best. It can prevent, not just diagnose.

Know your blood pressure: If you don’t know numbers, get to! And do whatever you have to do to keep it in a healthy range. High blood pressure can cause damage in the arteries, heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain. Exercising more will have an immediate effect on lowering your blood pressure.

Cut back on sodium: Cut back on eating fast foods, processed meats, canned and other prepared items. Add in high potassium foods, like: raisins, bananas, tomatoes, and spinach. Higher consumption of potassium could lower your risk of heart disease.

Don’t ignore the warning signs: If you experience unusual pain, aches, or other possible warning signs, don’t brush it off. If it seems abnormal, it probably is.
There are too many warning signs to list here, but the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Diabetes Association are great places to start.

This month, give yourself and your family the gift of good health. And keep it going throughout the year. I know I will.


By: Gary Appelsies, MS, CHHC, AADP
Director of Healthy Eating

Not Plan “B” (Plan Be: Healthy)

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in the world, and all who live in it;  -Psalm 24:1

Do we truly believe these words? Are we living our lives as a people who believe that everything belongs to God? That would mean that our families and relationships are His. Our money and even how we earn that money is His. It would even mean that our bodies are His. Many of us “drive it like a rental” when it comes to bodies. We treat our bodies in the careless way we might treat a car that’s not our own and are planning to turn in at the end of the trip. The truth is, our bodies are not our own, but our attitude towards it should never be one of neglect. Even back in Genesis as God has called us stewards to care for his creation. We must recognize that our bodies are, too, part of that command. We only have one body this side of eternity: do one thing today to care for it well. Choose to go for a walk, substitute a healthier food option, or come take a Group Exercise class here at the Y. Make a “Plan Be: Healthy,” because there is no plan B for our bodies.
by Chad Garmon, Executive Director of Christian Initiatives & Community Partnerships

The Y’s History of Building a Better Us

On June 6, the YMCA marks 174 years as more than a place, it is a nonprofit organization that offers programs and services designed to foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Here are five past notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment to the communities it serves:

  1. American Institutions: Celebrations such as Father’s Day, and organizations like the Peace Corps, all have their roots at the YMCA.
  2. Summer Camp: The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855 and countless numbers of boys and girls have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
  3. Innovating & Inventing: From James Naismith’s invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is credited with inventing the term “body building.”
  4. A Nobel Peace Prizewinner: YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y’s groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
  5. Furthering Education: The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

How the Y is relevant in 2018

Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one cause:

  1. Nurturing the Potential of Our Kids: When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Nationwide, the Y helps over nine million youth to close gaps in hunger, health, learning, water safety and safe spaces while providing a place to stay healthy, build friendships, and achieve more—all while having fun! Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in under-served communities.
  2. Improving the Nation’s Health: More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen their community and society. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve health, but don’t know how, to preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that can effectively reach millions of people. Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmer’s markets and ensuring children have a safe route to school.
  3. Support for All Our Neighbors: As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y’s social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From helping newcomers and immigrants adjust to new communities to member-led community service projects through the Togetherhood program, every effort helps to make a difference.

Not Plan “B” (Plan Be: Still)

Not Plan “B” (Plan Be: Still)

I’ve heard people say that God does not have a plan “B” but I do believe that He has a plan “Be.” In the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus and his followers are on a boat after a long, exhausting day. The writer tells us after this hard day, Jesus falls asleep on the boat. But even after a long day, Jesus is not through with the storms of life. His next storm happens to be a literal weather-related storm. His followers who were once tired are now tired and scared. Life is coming at them fast. Mark writes that they wake Jesus and ask him if he even cares if they drown. Waves are crashing on the followers from all sides. Jesus stands up and says, “Quiet! Be still!” and the winds die, and it was completely calm.

Now, I’m not sure if Jesus was talking to the storm or to his followers with his instructions. What if he was addressing those in the boat? You see, Jesus was in the boat. He was in the craziness, he was in the chaos. He’s in our boat of chaos with family, work, volunteering, health issues, and financial troubles. Jesus is with us and tells us how to handle the storm. Find the time and space to be quiet! Find the time and space to be still. It’s not easy and requires work, but in quietness and stillness, we can rest and hear from him. We have to make the plan to Be Still.

by Chad Garmon, Executive Director of Christian Initiatives & Community Partnerships

The Y Encourages Older Adults “Engage at Every Age” This May

The Y Encourages Older Adults “Engage at Every Age” This May
You are never too old to eat healthy, get active and social

May is Older Americans Month and the YMCA of Central Florida is emphasizing the importance of being kind to yourself by getting active and involved, no matter where you are in life. We encourage you to “Engage at Every Age,” developing behaviors that are crucial to healthy aging, including healthy eating, increasing physical activity and social interaction—especially those adults over 50.

Adults 50 years and older currently make up more than 30% of the U.S. population, and will soon represent 45% of all Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults 50 and older have a 70% chance of developing at least one chronic disease. While these numbers seem daunting, the good news is that making small lifestyle changes that include increasing physical activity, eating healthier and staying active socially can help older adults live better.

You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being. If you need help, support or a place to get started, just stop by the Membership Desk or see one of our Y Wellness Coaches.

The Y offers many ways for older adults to live healthier. The YMCA of Central Florida offers many older adult swim programs that help increase physical activity and improve health. These programs provide opportunities for individuals to begin or continue an exercise routine in an environment that provides resistance, as well as buoyancy, which helps reduces stress on joints when compared to other physical activities like running.

While the CDC recommends that older adults get a minimum 30 minutes of moderate exercise or strength training per day, less than one out of three of Americans 65 and older meet these guidelines. Swimming and aquatic programs may reduce the risk of muscle loss as one ages and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as well as improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and mental well-being.

Additionally, the Y offers the following tips on how to jump-start your healthy-living routine:

  1. Have fun with your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh or frozen. Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein or find a way to incorporate fish or beans into an old favorite. Remember as you age, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.
  2. Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber rich foods to help it stay regular. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate (i.e. fruits and veggies) to keep fiber rich foods a part of your diet. Additionally, increasing potassium along with reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium.
  3. Get Active. Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health far outweigh the risks. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age (such as osteoporosis and arthritis) and reduce the risk for developing, or help manage, depression, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. For older adults who have chronic conditions that hinder their ability to be active on a regular basis, some physical activity is better than none, and older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  4. Tweak your routine. To get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, change your routine to 10-minute sessions throughout the day. For example, stand on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance, and do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. Make sure you can grab hold of something to maintain balance—safety first! To increase your cardio, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the entrance to work. When sitting in front of the TV, march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.
  5. Get social. Socialization is an important part of aging. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or a neighbor, join a book club or volunteer at your local pet shelter or local Y. Social interaction provides meaningful engagement, builds relationships, enhances a sense of belonging and provides opportunities for involvement—all resulting in greater bonds and a stronger sense of community. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy!


Love your Neighbors (including the ones who don’t live next door)

Jesus says the greatest commandment is: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

Would you like to participate in a meaningful mission trip without even leaving Orlando this summer? What if you had the opportunity to volunteer to join a team of others who want to share this love Jesus speaks of with our worldwide neighbors? The YMCA of Central Florida is hosting the Pan American Masters Swim Championships July 22–August 9 and the world is coming to our neighborhood. Over these 20 days we have the unique opportunity to help provide spiritual care for our athletes and their families. Will you consider joining the team for a few hours or even a few days? No experience needed, just an open heart and willingness to serve, pray, or talk with our guests. Choose one of the training days below and RSVP to [email protected] for your attendance. Details and scheduling will happen at our training events.


May 21 | 11-12pm | Association Office- 433 North Mills Ave, Orlando 32803

June 2 | 10-11am | Oviedo YMCA- 7900 Red Bug Lake Rd, Oviedo 32765

June 21 | 4-5pm | Association Office- 433 North Mills Ave, Orlando 32803

July 11 | 2-3pm | Aquatic Center- 8422 International Dr., Orlando 32819


Stop and Smell the Roses

The month of May is centered on women’s health. So, if you haven’t done anything to take care of yourself lately, now is the time. Right now? YES! Right now, while you are reading this I want you to take a moment, stop, breath, and just be.

Think about all that you are looking to accomplish. Better health, better food choices, relationships, spirituality, and anything else that comes to mind. You most likely lead a busy life and probably spend a lot of time taking care of others. This month spend some time being instead of doing.

Here are a few tips to help you.

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Make sure to get in those nutrients. Just five servings of fruits and veggies every day can help you think better, feel better and give you more energy. Even if you’re in a rush, start your day off on the right foot. This will help you to make better food choices throughout the day. Try having a smoothie (I like to throw a handful of frozen mangos, one banana and a handful of spinach in a blender along with some coconut water). If you are not partial to the smoothie idea, have a piece of fruit with breakfast, blueberries with lunch, salad and other vegetables with dinner. Remember to balance with a healthy protein and healthy grains to keep you from getting those 3pm cravings for something sweet and sugary. And oh yes, it’s ok to add in a daily serving of dark chocolate covered raisins every now and then. After all, raisins are a fruit!
  2. Do your daily exercise: Even 15 minutes can help you to get focused on yourself.
  3. Take time to smell the roses: Get out to a farmer’s market and get some deliciousness that you can turn into a simple but well balanced meal. Buy yourself some flowers to brighten your day.
  4. Get your sleep: This is one thing we should never deprive ourselves of. Lack of sleep can take a toll on your mind body and spirit.

Whatever you do this month, remember to take the time to do something to take care of yourself.

by: Gary Appelsies, MS. CHHC, AADP
Director of Healthy Eating

Spring Renewal

If you really want to make some changes to your lifestyle spring is the perfect time to start fresh and get back to basics.

How you ask? First let’s do some spring cleaning. Open up your fridge, freezer and pantry. Take a good hard look at what you have in there. Check for staples items. Click here for a list. Get rid of processed food stuffs that are high in sodium, saturated fats and sugars. Next, forget everything you have ever heard or learned about “dieting”. I will tell you something truly amazing. It’s so simple, but not easy. When you change your mindset and start eating REAL food you will be amazed at how your body responds. Fruits and vegetables truly are one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals you can find. You should be getting at least five servings of vegetables daily, but I encourage you to eat even more than that since they’re so good for you. They not only will help you to lose weight but may help you to heal your body as well.

Tips to get more from your diet.

  • Start your day with a cup of warm water with lemon.
  • Chose whole fruit instead of fruit juice. (More fiber).
  • Read labels. Look for the word “whole” before any grains, lower sodium and lower sugar content.
  • Cut your processed food intake.
  • Start your day off right, a bowl or oatmeal, a piece of fruit, whole grains and a healthy protein.
  • Snack on raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Add legumes, seeds and nuts into soups, salads and stews.
  • Replace refined white grains with whole-grains.
  • Have a salad for lunch or dinner two times per week. (Watch the dressing. often times the majority of those calories add here). Honestly, one teaspoon of dressing is all you need. Give your salad a good toss. You can always add more.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Don’t give up on yourself if you had a bad day.

Starting off on the right foot is not always easy. You can’t just say “Hello, world I am here and I am going to lose weight and get healthy.” It takes time, thought, passion and most of all commitment. Often it takes someone to be your coach and your champion. That’s where I come in. I want to help you. I want to be your champion. I want to cheer for your accomplishments and guide your through the rough spots. I want you to get the health you want and deserve. Check out our virtual Chef page where I can help you meet your goals.

By: Gary Appelsies, MS, Director of Healthy Eating, YMCA of Central Florida