Your health is important, especially the choices you make as you get older.
At Grand Island YMCA, a new program launches in April to connect its members with the tools needed for healthy living and disease prevention.
“Living Your Best Life” is being spearheaded by YMCA fitness instructor Cindy Paustian.
The program starts in April with spots for 10 YMCA members.
“It’s basically an extension of our fitness programs,” Paustian said. “People come to us and they want to exercise, so we’re taking the next step and helping them with their overall health and wellness.”
Paustian, a masters-level health educator, developed the curriculum.
For the program, she will meet one-on-one with members to address nutrition, weight gain, chronic conditions and symptom control.
“A lot of our people have never had a person talk to them about their health. Not necessarily fitness, but their health, and how that plays such an important part of their overall wellness,” she said. “Yes, they’re getting fit by exercising, but let’s look at these other components.”
Paustian said the program is inspired by her time as a hospital health and wellness director in St. Paul.
“I worked with an elderly population there, and they just needed education on how to take care of themselves,” she said. “They knew they had diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and they’d go to the doctor and get a pill and go home. But a pill isn’t going to help their overall health and wellness.”
To address this, Paustian implemented a fitness plan and overall health and wellness program for patients.
For her program at The Y, members similarly will exercise three times per day and their food intake will be monitored.
“It’s amazing how, once people start eating healthfully and making good food choices, it helps with their energy level, it brings down their cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels,” she said. “Nutrition education has a lot to do with it.”
Paustian specifically worked with farmers, who incorrectly equated daily labor with fitness.
“It’s a completely different workout,” she said. “They don’t get their heart rate up. They get really no cardio. They may be physically fit as far as muscle strength, but they don’t have any cardio strength.”
The program at the Y is specialized to all ages and populations.
“I don’t think the younger people might take advantage of it so much, but certainly the middle-aged and older folks will,” Paustian said.
A series of “Lunch & Learn” half-hour classes will focus on topics such as “Are you at risk for heart disease?” and “Don’t let arthritis stop you from your life.”
The first class is planned for April 19.
“Once people get that education, they do so much better with their lives,” she said.
There is a need for such programming locally, Paustian said.
It is the sort of program being adopted by YMCAs in larger cities, she noted.
“I wanted to be the first to offer it here in central Nebraska because it is such a big part of our membership, of the whole body wellness piece, and it’s just a natural progression for us to go in that direction,” she said.
Paustian enjoys helping people identify and overcome their issues to become the best possible versions of themselves.
“They get so frustrated with themselves because they can’t lose weight, they’re not gaining muscle mass like they think they should. I educate them on that and that relieves their stress and worry,” she said. “That educational piece is so good for them to hear because they beat themselves up a lot over these issues.”
There is no additional charge to YMCA members for “Living Your Best Life.”
For more information, contact the YMCA fitness instructor at 308-395-9622, or visit Grand Island YMCA’s website at giymca.org.
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