Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

9 Tips to Change Your Life

Did you meet your New Year’s resolutions this year?

If not, don’t feel too bad. Of the 45 percent of Americans who set New Year’s resolutions goals each year, only 8 percent of people actually achieve them, according to a research study by the University of Scranton.

Long-term New Year’s goals can easily become overwhelming. If your goals are unrealistic, it is easy to burn out or find yourself wanting to give up. Choose goals that are specific, measurable and achievable, as well as realistic and time-limited. This will make them easier to accomplish and maintain.

Some examples of short-term goals could be:

  • Run/walk one mile a week
  • Exercise for 15 minutes a day
  • Eat a side of vegetables with your meal four times a week

Rather than setting “New Year’s resolutions,” the YMCA of Greater Houston encourages you to make “lifestyle changes.”  This mentality requires a commitment to less intense, smaller changes that are accomplished over long periods of time and may require extra support. By changing your perspective, you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals, feel better about yourself and see better results.

Below are some tips to help you make a lifestyle change:

  1. Have Fun
    Find a physical activity that you enjoy. If you are having fun, you’ll stick with it.
  2. Start Slow
    If you are not doing any activity right now, start by doing a short 10-15 minute workout. Then add 10 minutes per week, with the goal of 150 minutes per week by end of April.
  3. Seek Support
    Find a friend or family member to help you to stay on target and hold you accountable. The YMCA’s group exercise classes are a great place to meet people working on similar goals.
  4. Write It Down
    Keep a journal of your activity and progress. Write down what you did, how long it took and how it made you feel and what you can do better next time.
  5. Embrace the Emotion
    Let the good feeling you get while working out motivate you. The physical changes you want to see will come with time. First, you have to make regular activity a habit.
  6. Call in the Experts
    If you get stuck, ask for help. The YMCA personal trainers are experts at helping people get started and staying on track.
  7. Take it One Goal at a Time
    It can be overwhelming trying to do too much. Set a small goal that you can meet.  Only add to it once it has been achieved.
  8. Do a Little More
    Do something that takes more physical effort, even if it’s less convenient: Take the stairs, park far away, pace while talking on the phone, stand up during TV commercial break, vacuum your house once more per week. By doing any of these things, you’ll burn some extra calories.
  9. Make up for Temptations
    If you know you will be eating that extra piece of cake, walk an extra 10 minutes that day.

As you make these healthy lifestyle changes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Each month, re-evaluate your progress and the goal itself to make sure you are still on track.

The Y has a wide variety of personal training, group exercise classes and healthy living experts to help you with your goals. To learn more about how to make a lifestyle change for you and your family, stop by your local YMCA and speak with a health and wellness expert.  Click here to see our map of all our Y locations.

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A Five Year-Old Drowned Last Weekend.

He could have been your son or daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew, a cousin.  It could happen in your backyard pool, at the beach, in a bayou or creek, even in your own bathtub.

drowningniAccording to multiple published media reports, the little boy drowned in his apartment complex swimming pool some time Sunday afternoon, on Mother’s Day.

There are not many details. Since the initial news reports, no one has confirmed all of the circumstances but most reporters note that there were no adults or lifeguards at the pool.

He probably didn’t yell for help; most children don’t when they’re drowning. Drowning victims are often exhausted or struggling under the water. You cannot always hear them.

Every year, as the weather turns warm, we start counting the number of children and adults who drown. The Houston area leads the state in drownings.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that for every child who drowns, four children are hospitalized for near-drowning.  Children and adults who survive may suffer permanent brain damage.

What can we do?

  1. Teach your child to swim.
  2. Learn to swim yourself; it’s never too late to learn how.
  3. Never swim alone.
  4. Only swim in areas monitored by a lifeguard.
  5. Remember that flotation devices (water wings, life vests) are no substitute for parental supervision.
  6. Always watch your child when he or she is in or near the water.

Sam swim lessonThe YMCA offers swim lessons. If you cannot afford lessons, let us know; financial assistance is available. This is too important for money to be an obstacle.

Learn more about drowning prevention through the YMCA’s Water Wise program.

We can stop this.

Protect our children. Prevent drowning.

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Give mom the gift of health.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and if you have not decided how to best show mom that you care, the YMCA has an idea for you.

Mother Resting Head on Infant's ChestGive mom the gift of health; buy her a YMCA Gift CardYMCA Gift Cards can be used for personal training, massage therapy, a YMCA membership or even an adult salsa dancing class!  And they never expire.

momcoupon1gify cardWant more ideas for mother’s day gifts?

How about a coupon book good for someone else doing all those chores that mom does around the house?

Check out our YMCA Pinterest page to learn how to make home-made picture frames, bookmarks, “bouquets” made out of your child’s hand prints and other easy, free or low-cost arts and crafts projects.

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Get a Jump on Summer with YMCA Healthy Kids Day: It’s FREE!

Summer is the time for kids to get up, get out and grow. But for some kids, exposure to activities that stimulate the body and mind ends with the school year. In fact, research shows that kids are prone to gain more weight and fall behind in studies during the summer.

healthy-kids-day-2013This Saturday, April 27, the YMCA of Greater Houston will celebrate YMCA Healthy Kids Day®, our national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids.

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day® is a free community event held at each of the more than 35 YMCA centers from 10 am to 1 pm.  Though activities at each Houston area YMCA may vary, some activities may include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Moon walks
  • Face painting
  • Fitness challenges
  • Food, fun and games for the whole family
  • Exercise demonstrations
  • Health screenings
  • Facility tours
  • Summer program registrations (swim lessons, day camp, overnight camp, youth sports and more!)
  • Giveaways and fun prizes

Not a YMCA member? You don’t have to be to come to Healthy Kids Day.

Interested in joining the Y? We are waiving the joining fee now through April 30. That’s a savings of up to $100!

Join us for YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day® this Saturday and get your children ready for summer fun.  Click here to find the YMCA nearest you. Read about the benefits of YMCA membership here.

Healthy Kids Day is supported locally by Southwest Airlines and Texas Children’s Pediatrics.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Send Your Child to Camp

Camp Makes Children More Resilient

The following is an excerpt from an article by Michael Ungar, PhD, who says, “the best camps don’t provide cookie-cutter solutions to what kids need. Instead, great camps understand that the factors that make children resilient are cumulative.”

Great camps offer the seven following experiences:

A child sways on the rope swing at YMCA Camp Cullen

A child soars on the “Screamer” rope swing at YMCA Camp Cullen during weekend camp.

1. New relationships, not just with peers but with trusted adults other than children’s parents. These new relationships teach children social skills to cope with new situations.

2. A powerful identity that makes children feel confident in front of others provides children with something genuine to like about themselves. A child may not be the best on the ropes course, the fastest simmer, or the next teen idol when he sings, but chances are that a good camp counselor is going to help a child find something to be proud of that he can do well.

3. Camps help children feel in control of their lives.  Those experiences of self-efficacy travel home as easily as a special art project or the pine cone they carry in their backpack.

Boys canoe on Lake Livingston at YMCA Camp Cullen.

Boys canoe on Lake Livingston at YMCA Camp Cullen.

4. Camps make sure that all children are treated fairly. The wonderful thing about camp is that every child starts without the baggage they carry from home or school. At camp, kids find opportunities to be valued for who they are.

5. At camp, children get what they need to develop physically. Ideally, they experience fresh air, exercise, a balance between routine and unstructured time, and all the good food their bodies need.

6. Perhaps, best of all, camps offer children a chance to feel like they belong. All those goofy chants and team songs, the sense of common purpose, and the attachment to the identity that camps promote go a long way to offering a children a sense of being rooted.

7. Finally, camps offer children a better sense of their culture. Camps are places where children can think about their values and share with others the everyday practices that make them feel a part of their families, communities, or ethnic group.

Does your child’s camp offer these experiences? Click here to learn more about summer overnight camp at YMCA Camp Cullen, located on the shores of Lake Livingston, just north of Houston in Trinity, Texas. The YMCA also offers various day camps, specialty camps and teen camps all summer long.  Find the camp that is right for your child at your neighborhood YMCA today!

Michael Ungar, PhD, is a professor of social work at Dalhousie University and scientific researcher of the Resilience Research Centre. Read Ungar’s full article on camp and resiliency on the American Camp Association website or learn more about Ungar’s research here.

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Want to Know What it Feels Like to be Spiderman?

You can be a superhero while supporting a great cause.

The Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA is hosting its first Annual Over The Edge event on March 23, 2013. The Four Seasons Hotel Houston is the setting for this unique, fundraising event. Eighty-five lucky participants will get a chance to enjoy a breathtaking 360 degree view from the top of the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, rappelling down the face of the 29 story hotel down to the ground.

1357672185Make a difference in your community and help thousands of children and families.  Funds raised benefit the YMCA Partners Campaign, providing financial assistance and scholarships to those who otherwise could not afford to participate in the YMCA’s life-changing programs. Join the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA for Over the Edge 2013!

There are still a few spots remaining. If you’d like to get involved, learn more, or reserve your spot, email us at OverTheEdge@ymcahouston.org today.

If you can’t join us for this year’s Over The Edge event, you can still support the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA by donating here.

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Now hiring! It’s fun to work at the Y-M-C-A!

Thanks to the Village People, we all know it’s fun to stay at the YMCA. But did you know it’s fun to work here too?

Learn, grow and thrive with a career at the Y.

Learn, grow and thrive with a career at the Y.

Imagine going to work knowing that what you do each day positively affects the lives of the people in your community. Working at the Y, you’ll discover more than a job—you’ll enjoy a career with a future and the opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of those around you. Our staff members—of all ages and from diverse back­grounds and life experiences—enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes from nurturing the potential of youth and teens, improving the nation’s health and well-being and providing support to our neighbors.

The YMCA of Greater Houston is looking for 1,200 seasonal positions such as life guards, swim instructors and summer day camp counselors. This week your neighborhood Y is hosting two job fairs: Thursday, March 14: 4 to 7 pm and Saturday, March 16: 10 am to 1 pm

“If you love working with kids and you are interested in strengthening your community, you’ll love working at the YMCA,” said Jennifer Lopez, Vice President of Human Resources at Houston YMCA. “YMCA staff members get to make a difference in the lives of children by helping them grow and develop their skills. They also gain some valuable work experience at the beginning of their career.”

People who start working for the YMCA as seasonal employees sometimes go on to part-time and ultimately, full-time work.

Click here for detailed information about the YMCA job fairs.

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