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Ester Marsh column: Healthy spirit, mind and body

With this beautiful spring-like February, shorts and T-shirts came out of the closet and with them, pale and dry “winter” shape and skin. When we can cover it up, we aren’t so worried about what’s underneath until nice weather. Are you tired of starting over after each winter? Even though winter is not quite over yet, why wait until nice weather to take charge of your health and weight?

Over the past three weeks, I have talked about the importance of weightlifting. This week, I hope to lift peoples’ spirits. It saddens me when I speak to people who continuously beat themselves up for not being able to take charge of their life, in this case, with exercise, healthy eating and a peaceful mind. Do you realize how hard it is? I do. I have been in fitness for over 34 years and have dealt with many people who were not able to get a plan together that worked for them. They start an exercise and eating regimen to see that it is just too much to stick with. You are not alone — look at all of the diets, pills, shots and weight loss programs out there, especially when the new year rolled around.

I am not a fan of quick weight loss. I believe anyone can lose weight, especially when all you do is exercise and eat the very few calories these programs allow you to eat. It’s keeping the weight off where most people have the problem. If you lose the weight too fast, it will come back fast, usually with a vengeance. 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.

Weight loss is a lifestyle change. 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 eating and exercise habits and kept track of their weight and recorded what they ate. Typically, a huge transformation takes about a year. The health benefits and positive changes 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. 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.

I want people to be healthy — I want you to feel good about yourself. Talk to your doctor if you need extra help to take charge of your health. Set up an appointment with a certified personal trainer. We will be able to steer you in the right and healthy direction. It won’t be easy, but I believe you can do it and you are absolutely worth it! Even though we just had a taste of spring, a healthy lifestyle should be year-round!

Ester H Marsh, Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley YMCA

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