Marsh column: Are you ready to take control of your health?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Are you tired of being out of control? Are you ready to take charge of your health?
With the New Year here, have you promised yourself to start taking better care of your body?
The Y might have a program that will help you to “Get a Grip”!
It saddens me when I speak to people who continuously beat themselves up for not being able to get their health under control. Do you realize how hard it is?
I do… I have been in fitness for 29 years and have dealt with a lot of people that didn’t seem to be able to get a plan together that works for them. They are “gung ho,” but then see that it is just too much to take on, beating themselves down once again.
I might have never been overweight, but I did struggle for many years with an eating disorder. I have written about it before and people are in shock when they find out.
Yes, everyone has their “demons” or secrets in the closet. My closet is just wide open.
I do know how it feels not to be able to control yourself, to pray to God every morning asking him to make this a “good” day.
You are not alone. Look at all the diets, pills and weight loss programs out there.
Knowing the food struggles I faced in my late teens and early 20s, my goal is to find something that can get people to feel good about themselves.
I am not a fan of the “Biggest Loser.” I believe anyone can lose weight (especially when all you do is exercise and eat the very few calories they allow you to eat). It’s keeping the weight off where most people have the problem.
At the YMCA, we believe in healthy spirit, mind and body. I feel that if we work on all three, we have a chance to succeed.
Oh, it’s not going to be fast weight loss. And why would you? When it comes off fast, guess what? It comes back quick too! And mostly with a vengeance! The weight you lost plus more.
It takes a change of lifestyle. When you speak to people who have lost a lot of weight and have kept it off, they will tell you that they changed their whole eating and exercise habits.
Typically a huge transformation takes one year. The health benefits start immediately.
So what is your goal? I hope it is health. When you start putting health first, the weight loss is going to come.
The Y is starting a special program for those who are ready to take charge of their life. This program is focused on people who need to lose 50 pounds or more.
That does not mean when you are below that amount you are not welcome. There are plenty of people who are “skinny fat.” That is what I call people who do not need to lose weight but have a very unhealthy lifestyle. Just because you are skinny does not mean you are healthy. And just because you are overweight does not mean you are unhealthy.
The new program, called “Get a Grip,” focuses on health, movement and feeling good about yourself. We hope that it will help you to take charge of your health through special classes, nutrition education by registered dietitian Robin Fisher.
The “coach” approach involves having somebody help you and keep you accountable and, of course, give team support.
I want people to be healthy. I want you to feel good about yourself. I know how dark those years were when I was struggling with bulimia.
Come join us. And if not us, find a program that works for you. It won’t be easy, but I believe you can do it and you are worth it!
Ester H. Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.