Author Archives: Jordan Bray

Eating Healthy for the Holidays

Pies, cakes, cookies, and candy—oh my! What are we to do? ‘Tis the season for overeating, weight gain, and discomfort. All of which typically results in the short-lived, but oh-so-necessary, “New Year’s resolution.” A resolution is a great idea if you can stick with it, but we often find ourselves triggered by negative thoughts and questioning why we tried to have a resolution in the first place. Fortunately, you really can make it through the holidays without guilt and weight gain. The key is practicing mindfulness.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “mindful” as being “aware.” This holiday season, be aware of your health, the food you’re eating, and your overall well-being. These simple mindfulness practices will help you start off the new year on the right foot by getting you through the holidays with more confidence and less weight gain.

Drink Water

Drink water—and lots of it. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. This will help you stay full, and avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.

Evaluate Your Plate

Before piling it high, take a moment to evaluate the table. First, get a smaller plate. Then scan what’s in front of you and look for the healthiest choices. Start with a crudité plate or a salad and add some nuts or other healthy fares. Grab a few goodies and walk away.

It’s Not All About the Food

Try not to focus on the food or gather around the holiday buffet table. Instead, focus on spending time socializing with friends and family.

Slow Down

Put your fork down between bites and enjoy your food. Taste it, savor it and chew it. This will not only help you enjoy your food but will also allow you to stop mindlessly munching. Remember, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full.


Many people deprive themselves of nutrient-dense foods during the holiday season in anticipation of indulging at parties. If you’re mindful and maintain your usual healthy dining routine, you’ll find that not only can you avoid overeating, but you won’t go home feeling stuffed like your Thanksgiving bird!

Remember not to punish yourself. If you indulge, the whole day/week/month isn’t wasted. Stay positive; don’t dwell on it, and instead emphasize getting back on track.

Enjoy the holiday season, your family and your friends. But most of all, enjoy yourself and your food!

By: Chef Gary Appelsies
Director of Healthy Eating

The YMCA of Central Florida Announces Name of New Packing District Y in College Park

ORLANDO, Fla. (November 7, 2019) – The YMCA of Central Florida announces today the name of what will become its newest location. The Leonard and Marjorie Williams Family YMCA will serve residents in the College Park area and surrounding communities as the Y’s 23rd location and will be a cornerstone of The Packing District, a transformational redevelopment coming to life through Dr. Phillips Charities.

“The legacy of generosity and support from the Williams Family Foundation and Wayne Densch Charities is critical to our mission to improve lives of all in Central Florida,” says Dan Wilcox, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Florida. “The Leonard and Marjorie Williams Family YMCA will be a welcoming place where neighbors can connect, families and kids can thrive, and our community can be strengthened for generations to come.”

The YMCA Family Center in The Packing District was initiated through a gift of $8.9 million and the land from Dr. Phillips Charities. Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2020 with completion in 2021. Once complete, the new Family Center will offer state-of-the art wellness equipment and specialized programs to promote healthy living for every age and ability.

“We are pleased to have the Williams family join in their support of the new Y within The Packing District,” says Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities. “We applaud all who share the same vision and commitment to enrich our community and respond to the needs of the many children and families who call Central Florida home.”

The Williams Family Foundation and Wayne Densch Charities have been community champions of the YMCA of Central Florida for over three decades with gifts totaling over $6.6 million in support of multiple programs and family centers, including the Wayne Densch YMCA Family Center in Pine Hills and the J. Douglas Williams YMCA Family Center in Lake Mary.

“The YMCA was a big part of my life growing up as a kid in North Carolina – a special place where I made many fond memories,” says Leonard Williams, Sr.  “I believe in the values of the Y and in their ability to make a difference in so many communities.”

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the YMCA relies on support from neighbors and community partners to achieve its mission and grow to serve more neighborhoods. The latest gift of $3 million from the Williams Family Foundation and Wayne Densch Charities, in addition to Dr. Phillips Charities’ lead gift of $8.9 million plus the land, has provided a head start for the development of the new Y. However, to achieve its full vision, this Family Center needs additional community donations and support. For more information on supporting the Y, contact Claire Fournier, vice president of financial development for the YMCA of Central Florida, at [email protected].

About the YMCA of Central Florida

The YMCA of Central Florida is one of the area’s largest nonprofits, serving more than 400,000 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 neighborhoods. To learn more, visit the YMCA of Central Florida at and follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Honoring Staff Celebrating Up to 40 Years of Y Service

On October 2, we honored staff members who are celebrating service milestones this year during the 2019 YMCA of Central Florida Years of Service Recognition Event. That evening, we honored staff from facilities, Aquatics, Membership, Before and After School Programs, sports, Child Development, and several of our association support teams like Human Resources and Finance. Honorees celebrated their commitment to improving lives for five years all the way up to 40 years!

We congratulate and thank all Y staff members celebrating milestones this year for their unwavering dedication to strengthening our Central Florida communities.

Click here to view more photos of the event.


Congratulations to Vicki Golat, who is celebrating 40 years of service to the Y!

Congratulations to Debbie Metzger, who is celebrating 35 years of service to the Y!

Congratulations to Carter Jones and Jody Alexander, who are celebrating 30 years of service to the Y!

Congratulations to Charli Hurst and Jo Anne Traylor, who are celebrating 25 years of service to the Y!

Congratulations to Mary Hancock, Dottie Pryor, Deborah Scraper, and Deborah Allen, who are celebrating 20 years of service to the Y!

Congratulations to all part-time staff celebrating 20 years of Y service!

Congratulations to all Y staff celebrating 15 years of service!

Congratulations to all Y staff celebrating 10 years of service!

Congratulations to all Y staff celebrating five years of service!

Five Ways to Make Healthy Eating Fun for Your Family

Making family lifestyle changes takes time and team work. It’s not something that has to happen overnight. Small changes here and there add up to lifelong healthy habits down the road. Here are five tips for making healthy eating fun for your family:

Set Goals

First, sit down as a family and set goals for your healthy eating plan. And remember, it’s not all about cutting “bad” foods out! It’s equally important to add healthy foods in. Some examples:

  • Eat one piece of fruit alongside a healthy breakfast
  • Integrate heart-healthy whole grains like breads and pastas
  • Add a vegetable side to weeknight dinners

Write them up and post them where everyone can see, like the fridge. 

Lead by Example

Eating healthier begins with us, as parents. When we commit to new healthy habits, we are also role modeling them for our kids. Our kids are more likely to adopt healthy habits if we adopt them first!

Cook and Eat Together

Identify a meal (or two, or three) each day and eat together as a family. Regular family meals can help establish a sense of routine and provide an opportunity to spend time together. And don’t be afraid to get the family involved with the cooking process! Kids can help wash vegetables, set the table, or fill water glasses. Assign everyone a task to complete.

Make Healthy Swaps

Making small healthy swaps can make a big difference! Using whole-grain bread instead of white bread for lunch sandwiches or enjoying a bowl of fresh fruit instead of sugary cereal for breakfast are easy (and delicious!) substitutions.

Make it Age Appropriate

Get the kids involved with age-appropriate fun activities. Here are some examples:

  • Preschoolers: Make sandwiches interesting. Cut whole wheat bread into a star or heart before filling it with turkey or cheese. Grab a whole-wheat pretzel and wrap the turkey around it. It’s the same as a sandwich, but looks more fun!
  • Elementary and middle-school kids: Take them to the store or farmers market and let them choose healthy items they would like to try this week. They are more apt to eat it if they choose it. Under your supervision, allow them to help you do some of the prep work, like snapping green beans, washing potatoes, or shredding carrots. They can even help make their own lunches for school!
  • Teens: When it comes to teenagers, try to focus on the wellness and performance benefits of healthy eating. Healthier choices will help them perform better at extracurricular activities, such as sports, theater, science, or math club. This strategy can also be helpful if a teen is trying to lose weight. For example, if your teen loves soccer but is also working toward a weight loss goal, talk about what types of healthy foods they can choose to boost their performance and endurance during practice and games. This approach generally works better than restricting foods, which sometimes leads to uncontrollable cravings.