Engaging in healthy living

LIMA — Many New Year’s resolutions have come and some have gone already, but one that will continue to inspire many is health and wellness. Members across the community have found creative ways to become healthy and stay active. Health does not just involve physical but also overall well-being.

Organizations like Activate Allen County focus on not only healthy habits but a healthy lifestyle. According to co-director Kayla Monfort, their goal is to help all community members make healthier choices.

Across the region, facilities focus on not only improving the health of the individual but the effort of overall health in the community.

Health defined

Organizations like Activate Allen County inspire community members to make good choices and improve their quality of life.

“Activate Allen County is a community-wide collaborative,” said Monfort. “We are basically with a large number of stakeholders and community residents to incorporate health and wellness into as many areas as we can. Working with hospitals, government officials, non-profits and businesses. Any sector that will meet with us. We really want people to think about health in a broad sense.”

“More than just how active you are or how healthy you eat,” says Monfort, “think about how housing plays a role in health and how where you live plays a large role in how healthy you potentially can be.”

Monfort added the first step in health is making sure basic needs are met. Similarly, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs starts by ensuring simple needs are met and then allowing health to grow from there.

“If you are unable to have food on your table, have a house that is affordable and well maintained,” said Monfort, “if you are worried about the neighborhood you are living in, in terms of safety and blight, all affect your ability to be healthy and when it comes to the community how able you are to be a member of a society that really thrives. We are working on a lot of different areas and really want to bring people together around these efforts in order to make it a vibrant place for everyone who lives and works here.”

Community Engagement

Another encouraging way to participate in healthy living is by becoming healthy within a community. The Lima YMCA sees the impact of community members participating in wellness together.

One local trainer said once new members begin a class they focus on building a relationship. Romi Wisser, from the YMCA, weighed in on building relationships within the community.

“When we have new people you have to connect with them,” said Wisser. “You have to follow up with them by getting a phone number or an email address, something. They love the camaraderie. They love the accountability for it. That is why they are here.”

Wisser also added many community members participate just to see their friends.

“In all the classes, individuals come because they know their Y family is going to be with them,” said Wisser. “Sometimes it is just their out. Sometimes it is a stay-at-home parent that says this is my me time. This is how I get away and take care of myself.”

The Wapakoneta Family YMCA has a similar strategy for the community. Liz Davis, director of member engagement, weighed in.

“We do have a lot of fun programs happening,” said Davis. “Our healthy living coordinator has got a lot of fun challenges going on. Just getting people to eat healthier and examine what they are doing in their lives; maybe they could make small changes that will make a big difference.”

Even churches like Zion Lutheran Church create spaces where the congregation can take part in fellowship and stay healthy.

Breaking barriers/ Affordability

Attaining and sustaining good health may seem like a tall order. The truth is many resources are available throughout the community.

“One thing we want to accomplish is making it easy to be healthy,” said Monfort. “Whether you have a lot of extra income or not a lot, we still want you to be able to make those healthy choices. We like to work with community gardens, farmers markets and our local grocery stories. Try to have healthy choices for anyone who wants to make them. We also have a lot of great parks here so park systems are amazing. Like tobacco-free environments wanting your children to not grow up around secondhand smoke.”

Monfort added healthy living is simply a choice.

“The farmers market actually takes SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards so it is a great way for folks to utilize those benefits and keep money local which is always a good thing,” added Monfort.

Programs like the YMCA also have the approach of ensuring health is available to anyone.

“We want to be able to serve everyone,” said Terri Averesch, vice president of Lima Family YMCA. “We have babysitting programs so parents can work out and they can also do things together. We have our scoop program and the basketball program. We have a tumbling program for infants and our parents and we also have swim lessons where the parents are with them. Our fitness and group exercise program we have for all ages.”

Back to the Basics

Wisser encouraged community members to become active and keep moving.

“It is not a diet or I need to exercise to lose weight,” said Wisser. “Do it because it is good for you mentally, socially and emotionally. Hopefully, you will find the thing that works for you. Some people love swimming. There is always something you can do to move. Just get moving.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health includes education access and quality, health care and quality, neighborhood and built environment, social and community context and economic stability.

Monfort works to continue to break false ideas surrounding the health of an individual and the community.

“It is easy to get into the thinking of, you are healthy if you eat well or exercise well or if you look a certain way you are healthy, and that really is not true,” added Monfort. “We are hoping those stigmas around you have to be rich to be healthy. We really are working hard to break those barriers because you can eat healthy on a budget. Making it as easy as possible for people to make it an easy choice.”

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.