Thursday, March 31, 2016

71-Year-Old Looks Forward to Completing 71 Marathons and Inspires Us Every Step of the Way

Chances are, you’ve seen Don at the Y, and chances are, you’ve read about him in the paper at some point.

Don likes to run… a lot.

In fact, his nickname, which is also stated on his business card, is “The Flying Turtle.” Consistency and commitment can get you far… very far.

Don Van Houten didn’t even start running until he was 57 years old, but he had ridden his bike to the East Coast. An “Iron-Man-friend” told him, “If you can do that, you could run a marathon.”

Don told another friend, “I’m going to run a marathon.” The friend replied, “That will kill you.” Don said, “Well, we’ll see.”

He joined the Y in 2000 so he could start training for his first marathon. That was in Chicago in 2001. Since then, he has completed a marathon in all 50 states. It took him over 10 years. For 3 years he completed one a month! His next goal is to catch up to his age… he is 71 years old. Unfortunately, his doctor told him he would need a hip replacement, but, fortunately, that was 8 years ago without incident.

Did we also mention he’s biked across the US and canoed from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico? (Just to mention a couple trips.) And right after retirement at the age of 62 he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail for 5.5 months. He ran/walked from Riverton to the state of West Virginia. He is also a cancer survivor. Listening to Don talk about his endurance feats is overwhelming but most importantly, it’s completely inspiring. His smile, good nature, and sense of humor light up the Y and are a manifestation of our mission.

He told us, before you embark on an endurance endeavor, you may need a few things:
“1. Be physically able (train), 2. Be financially able (save), 3. Make the time (schedule… or retire if you can) and 4. Find a supportive spouse (or at least a tolerant one)!”

Yet, he also clarifies... "Family always comes first."

At the Y, we preach a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Don lets his spirit carry his body through his journeys, and we can’t help but follow along with our hearts. We are lucky to have him in our Y family. He reminds us not to let our thoughts or personal barriers ever get in the way of our dreams.

And Don’s mantra? “I would rather wear out than rust out.”

Interested in getting in shape for your next feat? Consider a Y membership today. Or better yet, personalize your fitness for your goals.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DuBois Elementary School Teachers Lead by Example and Work Fitness Into Their Day with Help from the Y

DuBois Elementary School was one of three District 186 schools that received the 2014-2015 Sangamon County Excellence in School Wellness Gold Award, an award that recognizes schools who put forth extra effort to provide a healthy, safe, and prosperous environment for students and staff.

This award inspired the principal and staff at DuBois Elementary to do more to make their school a healthy and safe place. Christina Taylor, a second grade teacher and member of the Y approached us and asked if we would be interested in bringing Zumba and Hip Hop classes to DuBois Elementary once a week. YMCA instructor Yenny Jimenez was all for it!

Yenny spent eight weeks from December to January going to DuBois School to provide Zumba and Hip Hop instruction for a class of teachers. About eleven of the DuBois teachers participated in the program. Christina said, “It was a great way to build community, let stress go, promote health and do something as a group.” Jenny Nolting, a teacher at DuBois Elementary and class participant said, “It was great fun, my co-workers kept me accountable by coming to get me to go to the class, and it helped bond the teachers together.” Christina and Jenny both felt that the biggest advantage of this program was that the instructor came to them. There were no excuses not to participate in the program. In some ways it was effortless.

The Y's mission of strengthening communities in the Springfield area is evident in this program. We congratulate this group of teachers on their dedication and commitment to making their school a healthy and safe environment, and for leading by example.

Group Exercise Classes help you make friends and stay accountable. If you are looking for a non-judgemental, inclusive, and social way to get into shape, check out the Y!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Jamie Gives an Inspiring Account of Her "Lose Big" Transformation

"Confidence. Empowerment. Control.   

The YMCA Lose Big program involved so much more than losing weight. 'Losing Big' really meant gaining what I had lost within myself.

My clothes were getting tighter and tighter, my face was getting round and swollen, and my dimples were no longer noticeable. I had lost confidence in myself to look and feel good in my own body.

I felt powerless, weak, and exhausted, and it showed. It showed at home. It showed at work. I just existed, and I was too tired to worry about anything else but going through the motions of life.

I had gotten to the point that I allowed food to control me. Sugar controlled me. Diet Coke controlled me. I craved it. I had no concept of portion sizes. I would overeat and think that I would just try again tomorrow. However, the next day came and the cycle would repeat. I had lost the ability to be in control of myself and my food choices.

What I had lost in myself, I had gained on the scale. So, when I saw that the YMCA was doing the Lose Big program, I thought, "What more do I really have to lose?"

The beginning of the program was tough. Kicking the soda habit, reducing portion sizes, and nearly eliminating sugar was like sending an addict through detox. Add that to several more workouts per week, and my body wanted to cry.

However, after the first week, I already felt so much better internally. I felt energized and motivated. I began to feel healthy again. This, along with a lot of encouragement from my family and coaches, gave me the willpower to keep going and going and going some more. As I started losing, I really started gaining so much more.

I gained confidence. Slowly but surely, my clothes began to fit again, and I even had to purchase new, smaller sizes. My face and body became more defined. I began to feel good about myself again for the first time in a long time.

I gained empowerment. I no longer was afraid to join new group exercise classes. In fact, I began to enjoy the challenge of learning new exercises. My energy transferred from the gym to home to work, and the positive effects showed. I felt alive again for the first time in a long time. I became a much better wife and mother.

I gained control. By tracking my food intake and staying accountable to my coaches and myself, I realized that I am the one who decides what to put in my body. I am the one with the choice to make myself healthy or not. I am in control.

When I first started this competition, I never imagined that I would be the winner. Thirty-two and a half pounds and 18.4% weight loss later, I am proud to say I am the winner of Lose Big! Reflecting upon the the past eleven weeks, I have learned that what I have lost in the past can be transformed by what I have gained in the present, and only I am in control of my future!"


If you're ready to start your life changing journey, click here