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Diabetes Awareness and the YWCA

23 Nov

November is National Diabetes Month, but every month of the year the YWCA of Asheville works to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on our community.

The Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program at the YWCA gives participants the power to take control of their health. In this program participants who desire to make lasting change build community, and leave feeling stronger, healthier, more knowledgeable, and – above all – supported.

Watch the following video to hear the story of one participant in our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program, Jennifer Wilmer:

 

To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Preventive Health programming is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Spotlight on: Wendy Bell, Club W Member

11 Nov

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator, recently spoke with Wendy Bell about her background, what motivates her, and what she likes about the YWCA and Club W.Wendy Bell

Josh: Are you from Asheville?
Wendy: My husband and I moved here in 1964 from Louisville, Kentucky, due to his job. My husband worked for USFS (United States Forest Services).

Josh: What great things do you have going in your life?
Wendy: My husband and I have been married for 52 years. I would also like to say I am 75 and in great health; I think that is pretty great. I enjoy my volunteer work that I do, with a pre-school outreach program, Song of Sky- chorus program,  and Meals On Wheels.

Josh: Can you tell me one thing that is a success for you in your life?
Wendy: I was a high school and ESL teacher with Buncombe County Schools. I loved the years that I worked doing this, and feel like this was a success for me.  I also would like to think that I am a committed workout woman!

Josh: What motivated you to start working out?
Wendy: When I retired in 2001 my weight started creeping up and I didn’t have a regular workout routine. I just took mostly cardio classes and did daily walks. This is typical for women with osteoporosis; you need to add weights to your workout.  When Curves came to North Asheville I didn’t have an excuse not to workout. I stuck with Curves for 10 years, until they closed down. The YW is more intensive; there is more variety here at the YW and more equipment and classes that you can choose from.

Josh: What do you like best about YWCA?
Wendy: I like the strength-training workouts designed here at the YWCA.  I really feel like I am getting stronger. As always, the staff are super helpful. The YWCA is also a convenient and well equipped facility.

Back in 2012 I had a slight stroke and my left side was slightly compromised, and I could feel it was weak.  I have noticed more in the YW workout that I am doing that my left side is developing. The weights/workouts that David [Fitness Associate] started me on are making my left side more equal to my right side. This definitely has to do with the YW and working out. My left side is stronger and my balance is better. I was going out my front door and I caught my foot on the edge of the mat and I could feel I was in danger. I tightened up my core and saved myself from the fall. I have gained strength, and I would have not been able to do this without the YW.

Josh: What is one thing that people don’t know about you that you would like to share?
Wendy: I am very shy!

Josh: What advice would you give to people who have questions about the YWCA?
Wendy: Go and try the YW for yourself and you will be sold!

Learn more about Club W Health & Fitness Center at http://www.ywcaofasheville.org/clubw. Through-out the month of November, join us for free Workout Wednesdays – you can come in and use the gym, pool, or take a class for free. 

David Gist’s Story: Sharing My Knowledge on Health & Wellness

6 Aug

A conversation with Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator, and David Gist, Club W member and new Fitness Associate. 

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Joshua: How long have you been involved with the YWCA? 

I have been coming to the YWCA since 2006. I started out in the Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, working with different staff including Katie Souris. I really enjoyed working with Katie, as she was always willing to help me and hear me out, but also when something was wrong or needed to be said, Katie would say it.

Joshua: How long have you lived Asheville?

I am from Asheville, and have been living here for over 65 years. (All my life, so that should tell you my age).

Joshua: What are some positive things happening in your life?

My marriage would have to be the biggest positive I have in my life right now. My health has improved, and I have wonderful step children as well. I’m very thankful to a lot of the YWCA staff, Joshua McClure, Susan Kettren, Mary-Beth Herman and Katie Souris, for helping me and allowing me to keep my focus on health.

Joshua: What is your favorite thing(s) about the YWCA?

One of the things I enjoy about the YWCA is that I’m able to share my knowledge on health and wellness with other Club W members. It’s also a great place to work out and stay healthy.

Joshua: What has benefited you the most being a part of the YWCA?

One thing that has been a benefit is my overall understanding about diabetes, through the help of the Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program. I have been able to keep my blood sugar at a normal place, and the program has helped me become more familiar with what diabetes is, eating the right food, working out, and keeping up with my medication.

Joshua: What is one thing that people don’t know about you?

I’m a big football and basketball fan! I’ve been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since the 1960’s. I follow the San Antonio Spurs in basketball.

Joshua: What advice would you give people that are interested in the YWCA?

I would tell folks to come in and ask for more information about the YWCA. There are all types of information you can get in terms of health, classes, and having somewhere to workout.

Learn more about the YWCA’s Club W Health & Fitness Center at  www.ywcaofasheville.org/clubw

A Thank You Note

22 Jul

By Katie Souris

On November 11th, 2011, I began a 10 hour per week position at the YWCA of Asheville assisting the Care Counselor of the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program with general office work such as faxing and creating sign-up sheets. I soon began taking on other tasks, like making the support group schedule and handouts for various health topics. Before long I was doing intakes, attending groups and talking to participants about my experiences living with type 1 diabetes.

I remember the first participant I met in the program, a man named J.J. – we were coming down the stairs from the mezzanine and he was walking up. I recall thinking how he and Mehgan, the Care Counselor before me, greeted each other like old friends and how welcoming he was to me. I didn’t know it then, but J.J. was just beginning his journey towards losing more than 100 lbs.

Katie Souris and program participant, David Gist

Katie Souris and program participant, David Gist

The first time I facilitated our wellness support group was the beginning of my journey towards discovering what I love most about my job. I agonized over my presentation, outlining every detail, rehearsing in the shower, in the car and practicing with friends. The topic was ‘Sick-Day Wellness’ and I made laminated wallet-sized tip cards for everyone to take home. I made peppermint tea that almost no one drank. I was sure everyone thought I was crazy but soon enough we were engaged in a meaningful conversation about people’s experiences. If you had told me that three years later I would feel comfortable facilitating wellness groups and relating to diverse groups of individuals I would have (nervously) laughed at you. This job has helped me practice some of my most valuable skills through direct experience, and learn that talking about health is one of my favorite things to do.

My dream of working full-time at the YWCA and having a bigger role in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program team slowly became a reality when a little over a year ago I became the Coordinator of Preventive Health. Coordinating the program has given me the opportunity to experience more of the challenges of organizing and implementing a health intervention program. One of the hardest parts has been balancing scheduling, meetings, and grant reporting with the time I spend interacting one-on-one with participants. Yet, just when I feel swamped with spreadsheets and logistics, I’ll have a conversation with someone who is creating and bravely navigating positive transformations in their life.  Getting to tell those stories in the community, to secure great guest speakers and events for participants, and to watch people change is what motivates me.

Now after nearly four years I am ready to create and navigate a change in my life, and I have my work and time at the YWCA to thank for that. I didn’t know when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes my freshman year of college that it would set off such a grand adventure for me. I didn’t know that I’d meet so many amazing people because of it. I didn’t know I would feel drawn to work that related to chronic conditions and public health. Finding the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program has changed my life just as much as I’ve seen it change anyone’s. As I leave my position at the YWCA and begin a new adventure, I am excited to hear how the program continues to grow and improve, as I continue to follow the lessons I’ve learned here.

Thank you Katie for four great years! Katie’s last day at the YWCA is July 31st. 

Madalyn Rogers’ Story: Embracing the Spirit of the YWCA

7 Jul

I’m a native of Asheville – I’ve lived here all my life except for 1 year away at college in Savannah. My whole family consists of “super natives!” I have a degree in art from UNC Asheville – I love to draw. I work with my father at Hammond Antiques – an antiques store in Burnsville – where I repair and refinish furniture. I love working with my hands; taking something that’s broken and bringing it back to life.

Madalyn Rogers

Madalyn Rogers

I have four children; they’re 27, 22, 10, and 4 years-old. I also have an 11 month-old granddaughter.

I’ve always struggled with being a little bit overweight, but until my mid 20s I was active and took good care of myself. I was fit. But after a series of things that happened in my life I didn’t eat as well, and my metabolism couldn’t keep up with it.  I reached a point where my health has been affected it.

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my last baby – that was a wake-up call for me. My grandmother and mom have diabetes, and I knew that this is something that runs in my family. My doctor told me that my A1C was too high: “You’re diabetic – we need to do something about it.” I was fooling myself that I wasn’t getting less and less healthy. I needed that truth in my face that I really had to make some changes in how I was eating and how I was living.

I started the YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program in December. I love it here – it’s so challenging and encouraging. It’s made me face hard facts about eating habits and emotional issues around eating. The way I grew up I learned an unhealthy relationship with food. I come from a big family without a lot of money – we ate what was cheapest and easiest to get. I developed a taste for processed food. I’m also an emotional eater; I have struggled with depression and one of the things I do is eat.

When I started coming to the YW I started feeling so much better. I’m still struggling with what I’m eating, but my clothes are looser, I’m more energetic, and my body can do things it couldn’t do two months ago. I recently went on hike with family and climbed up a hillside of rocks, and it wasn’t difficult for me. It was really exciting for me – suddenly I could trust my body to do things that I hadn’t been able to trust it to do in a long time.

It’s a huge help to have the accountability of meeting with my YW trainer, Sean, every week. He’s a joy to work with. He’s encouraging, but he knows when to tell the truth. He asked me to keep a food journal… I was ticked off at him for a few days for that because it was easier to be mad at him than at myself. It showed me how deep my issues are, and how much work I have to do, which was discouraging and good at the same time.

It hasn’t been easy, but my family is very supportive. At first my husband would still get the kind of groceries that weren’t helping the situation. Then I explained to him that bringing food I shouldn’t be eating into the house is like if I was a recovering alcoholic and he was putting beer in the fridge. That really clicked with him. I can tell that he really cares. He is learning with me, and is committed to being my teammate.

I have 84 pounds to go to reach my goal weight. But that’s not my only goal.

-I want to go do a zipline.  You have to weigh below a certain number, so I need to reach that first – my best friend promised she would do it with me.

-In 1 to 2 summers I want to take a two-week hike on the Appalachian trail.

-My goddaughter is a fashion guru – when I reach my goal weight she’s going to take me shopping for a whole new wardrobe.

-Lastly, my long term dream is to take my family to serve on a mercy ship – these are giant cruise ships that have been converted to hospitals that dock off the coasts of poor nations. Teams go in to the country and bring back people who can’t get medical care where they are. But they won’t let you go if you have a chronic health problem, so I need to make sure that my health is under check.

My goals are all things that make me hopeful. Before joining this program I had started to feel like: this is who I am; I can never be fit again. My identity had gotten wrapped up in things I couldn’t do physically – I had to get fed up with it.

I’ve embraced the spirit of the YWCA – that it’s ok to be honest about what’s bad and what’s good, and to be willing to face it and make a change. I find myself surrounded by people who’ve been on a journey. We’re able to understand and support each other because we’ve all had something to face in our lives.

Jean Coile Scholarship Helping a New Generation Swim

2 Jul

Paige Peterson is a single mother of 2 year-old twins. A self-described “water and outdoors person,” Paige says: “So many water accidents happen with kids… it’s very important to me that my daughters learn how to swim at a young age. My granny is 73, and doesn’t know how to swim – I didn’t want them to experience that toll in life.”

Paige Peterson with her daughters

Paige Peterson with her daughters

With that in mind, Paige came to the YWCA in September, where she learned that she was eligible for a Jean Coile scholarship to help subsidize her children’s swim lessons. Jean Coile was the YW’s Aquatics Director from 1979 until 2010; the fund was created upon her retirement to honor her work.

“It means a lot to have a scholarship that I can use when times are tight,” says Paige. “Otherwise we would have to miss out on a month of classes, and the girls would lose some of that momentum.”

As it is, the twins have graduated from the Baby 1 & 2 class to the preschool class. They can do ‘chipmunk cheeks,’ hold their breath, jump in the pool, and are starting to learn windmills.

“I’ve seen tremendous progress from when they first started,” says Paige. “My mom comes with me, and it’s a time for them to bond. The girls love swim class, and it’s good for them.”

The Jean Coile Scholarship is needs-based, and is available on a limited basis to subsidize instructional swimming lessons for adults and children.  For more information contact Kitty Schmidt, Aquatics Coordinator, at 828-254-7206 x. 110.

For more information about the YWCA’s swim lessons, visit www.ywcaofasheville.org/aquatics

“Something I Want and Need to Do”: Francine Young’s Story

20 Feb
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Francine Young

My name is Francine, and I’m a participant in the YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program.

I’ve lived in Asheville all of my life, and I have a 26 year-old son. I’ve been a bus driver with Asheville Regional Transit for 16 years.

My doctor had been telling me for some time that being overweight and having high blood pressure was putting me at risk for diabetes, but I never exercised. Then my friend Robin told me about the YWCA’s program, and I thought – that sounds like something I want and need to do.

Since I was accepted into the program in August I’ve made huge changes to my lifestyle. I go to wellness classes at the YW every Thursday, as well as support group meetings every week. I exercise three times per week – I take Zumba on Mondays and Tuesdays, and have personal training with Sean, who’s not afraid to challenge me. He’ll come over when I’m on the elliptical and say- “You wanna pump it up a little?”

In the group classes I’ve learned quite a bit. For example, I now check out the labels on my food – if I can’t say the name of the ingredient it’s not supposed to be in there!

Everyone is friendly at the YW, and everyone is helpful – whether they’re staff, other participants, or gym members. A barrier I always felt about exercising at other gyms is having the feeling of: “I don’t fit in here.” I didn’t feel comfortable exercising on my own in those situations. But I’ve realized I can’t wait on anybody – and at the YW, I don’t have to. As soon as I walk in the front door I know that people are happy to see me, and they care about my health.

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Francine works out with her YWCA Fitness Counselor, Sean.

I had a physical a few weeks ago, and although I haven’t lost much weight yet, my blood pressure has gone down. My doctor told me: “I’m proud of you.” That felt good.

My goals for the rest of my time in the program are to continue lowering my blood pressure – it would be nice to be off all, or at least some, of my meds.

Another goal of mine is to try a water aerobics class. This may not seem like a huge deal, but I don’t know how to swim. I am so scared. But when I get into that water aerobics class I’ll know for sure that nothing can stop me. I’ve always been terrified of swimming… but you know what? I ordered myself a swimsuit.