Jesse Chavez completely transformed his life at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA. Because of classes like AM Boot Camp, Jesse went from being overweight to becoming a fierce competitor. For a closer look at Jesse’s amazing transformation, watch the video above, which includes testimonies from YMCA instructors Kevin Hir and Kristen Derengowski, and of course, Jesse himself.
Ditching Diet Soda
If you’re still drinking diet soda as a healthier alternative to regular sodas or other sweetened beverages, it’s time to stop. Instinctively, we think that in order to control our weight, it’s smarter to drink a zero-calorie diet soda instead of a regular soda with hundreds of calories of pure sugar. However, scientific research has shown that this untrue for decades. Clearly the soda manufacturers have been very successful in their advertising campaigns.
Your weight is a result of far more than a simple calories-in-calories-out equation. Underlying and unconscious drives determine what you eat far more than you might realize. Artificial sweeteners play all sorts of tricks on your body’s chemistry, making it much more detrimental to your health than the real stuff.
First off, sweet tastes—artificial or natural—increase appetite. When you drink a diet soda, your body recognizes the sweet taste and responds with this appetite increase. However, the part of your brain that derives satisfaction from food is unaware of the diet soda. This results in a disconnect: one part of your brain responds to the sweetness, but another part is unaware of it because there is not actually any nutrition in it. Our brains and bodies are not happy with imbalances, and strive to correct them. In this case, they strive to correct it by increasing your appetite further so you get the food to make the food-satisfaction pathways in your brain happy. Put simply, your brain recognizes the sweet taste but doesn’t find any food, so compels you to get the food it expected to find.
YMCA member Angela Townsend has made quite a transition since she began coming to the Y, and she has seen amazing results. Below, she describes her past, talks about Y staff, and tells us why she hasn’t weighed herself in more than six months!
My story is simple and not too different from others. I never thought about my weight/figure during my younger years. I always ate whatever I wanted and I didn’t think twice about it. Sweets were my weakness and still are. I don’t know what it was that forced me to get off the couch, but thanks to a good friend, Marenda Eison, who put me in check, I’m looking and feeling the best I have in years.
Thanks to the C.W. Avery Family YMCA’s awesome staff and classes, it’s been “easy” to get fit. Kristen Derengowski has been my teacher and whipping me into shape. She puts us through the wringer, but makes it fun at the same time. It’s great to change it up to target different parts of the body, so I’ve tried to take advantage and get into whatever classes I’m available for.
I’ve also slowly modified my eating habits. I’ve gone from candy bar snacks and ice cream EVERY night, to kale smoothies, double servings of veggies and significantly less sugar. I say “forget the scale”—I haven’t weighed myself since October 2013. Be proud of yourself and be satisfied when you start to see and feel a difference—even if you haven’t reached your ultimate goal. Enjoy the view while you’re on your road to greatness!
This summer, YMCA member Kelli McDonald will run 142 miles over a six-day period. For those counting—that’s almost one marathon per day. Kelli, a long-time athlete turned triathlete, was one of 16 runners chosen to be a part of MS Run the US, a relay across America that benefits the 2.3 million people that are affected by multiple sclerosis worldwide.
To prepare for this event, Kelli has been training nonstop at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA since January, sometimes twice per day. She’ll continue to train until July 7, the day she departs from Davenport, Iowa, beginning her 142-mile trek across the state of Illinois.
The seven months she spent training will finally pay off when she reaches her final destination in downtown Joliet on July 12. There, in her hometown, Kelli’s journey will come full-circle, when she crosses the finish line with her mother and biggest inspiration, Peggy, who has battled MS for 25 years.
“I just think about what my mother has to endure everyday. What I’m doing is nothing,” Kelli said. “She lives with pain everyday. She lives with numbness and fatigue—24/7. Every day is a challenge for her.”
This Saturday, all branches of the Greater Joliet Area YMCA will celebrate Healthy Kids Day with free community open houses and health and wellness expos. In honor of Healthy Kids Day, the Y has put together an easy-to-follow list to help families develop healthy habits.
“Juicing” can mean different things to different people, but the one thing most can agree on is that the term refers to juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables, usually from a home juicer. It does not refer to your typical, inexpensive store-bought juice—not even upscale and healthy-seeming ones like Naked Juice.
The process of juicing separates the liquid portion of the fruits and vegetables from the fiber, which is referred to as pulp. The resulting beverage is rich in the vitamins and minerals contained in the produce, and the easily digested carbohydrates provide a quick dose of energy. Some drink this juice in addition to regular food for added nutrition, while others choose to consume solely juice for several days as a juice fast or “cleanse”.