Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Healthy Eating: Plate vs. Pyramid

You may have heard. The pyramid is out; the plate is in. We asked our community health partner, WakeMed, to help us understand the new USDA guidelines for heathly eating. Dietician Julie Paul explains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently introduced the plate-shaped icon, replacing the food pyramid.  Which is better?  The answer is they are both great simple guides from the government to help you make healthy food choices.  But, it is important to note that a visual graphic is just a start.

Consumers who are interested in eating healthy and making healthy choices must do some additional research and get more information; this was as true with the pyramid as it is with the plate.

The nice thing about the plate is that it is a visual representation of what each meal should look like.  As with all simplified guidelines, there are a few possible pitfalls, including no mention of physical activity, lack of detail about how to select the healthiest foods and lack of information on portion sizes. This is where the getting additional information becomes important.

Physical Activity
Remember that to maintain a healthy weight you must consider the concept of energy balance. Put simply, to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than you burn or burn more that you eat.  The previous version of the pyramid did emphasize the need for physical activity, an issue which the plate guide does not address.

Selecting the Healthiest Foods
Although, the new plate does emphasize eating more fruits and vegetables, there is no information about which vegetables and fruits are the best. To some, that may be translated as I should load up on fried okra and peaches canned in syrup or starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes that are three times higher in calories than green beans or broccoli.

It is also great to recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, but a clarification that this means focusing on adding fresh or frozen vegetables that are not fried or enhanced with butter, cheese or high calorie sauces would be even better. 

It is also important to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables and to choose fresh fruits over canned or dried most often. Sorry, but fruit gummies are not considered a serving of fruit.

Portion Size
Portion size can be a downfall too. It is important to base your eating guidelines on a regular sized dinner plate. Believe it or not there is significant variation in plate sizes.  Follow these guidelines for choosing certain higher calorie foods:
  • 1 fruit serving = tennis ball
  • 1.5 oz. cheese = 4 stacked dice
  • 3 oz. meat = deck of cards or computer mouse
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter = a ping pong ball
  • 1/2 cup ice cream = 1 scoop
  • 1 oz. bread = CD case   
  • 1 cup cereal = a fist  
  • 3 oz. fish = a checkbook
  • 1 cup of rice, pasta or potatoes = baseball 

The most important thing to remember is that plate or pyramid is just a general nutrition guide that is easy to visualize and understand. If you are really trying to eat healthier, lose weight or have special nutrition needs, you will need more information to be successful.  In these cases, you may want to consider meeting with a registered dietitian for more specific advice.

Julie Paul is a registered dietitian with WakeMed ENERGIZE!, a program to help kids and teens who either have type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes learn to make healthy lifestyle changes.  Learn more by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


At the Y, we focus on three areas: youth development, healthy living and social reponsibility.

When it comes to healthy living, most of us some extra help. In 2009, the Kraft Family Y started a program called Coaching Connections. Since its beginning, more than 2,000 people are leading healthier lives thanks to this one-on-one program.

What a difference a few months makes. Last May, Frank McLaughlin went to the hospital with severe pains in his side. Doctors discovered his cholesterol was extremely high. Frank already knew he needed to lose weight.

On his own, he lost 12 pounds. When he moved to North Carolina, Frank joined the Kraft YMCA. He immediately signed up for Coaching Connections.
Frank McLaughlin

"Thanks to Coaching Connections, I am off all medication," says Frank. "The people here are fantastic. I've reached my goal. I just need to keep up the hard work."

Coaching Connections is designed to connect YMCA members with YMCA Wellness Coaches. Through this process, members can meet their wellness goals, make lasting changes and create relationships with YMCA staff members.

Here’s how it works. The member schedules a series of coaching sessions over a six-week period. This allows the member to set realistic goals and apply lifestyle modifications. Believe it or not, this is free to all Kraft members.
And, it works! Just ask Frank.

For more information on Coaching Connections, contact the Kraft Family YMCA Welcome Center at 919-657-9622.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Y is My Connection: Mr. Lou

The Y is an important part of people's lives. Just ask Mr. Lou, a longtime A.E. Finley Y member. Hear Mr. Lou talk about his extraordinary experiences during World War II during the Finley Freedom Festival on June 26. His presentation will be in the main building at 6 p.m. Come early to get seat!

Mr. Lou
It all started when “Mr. Lou” was 11 and started swimming at the Lincoln Branch YMCA in Chicago. During the Depression, it was a safe haven where kids could get off the streets. By 14, he was handing out towels and baskets at the fitness desk in lieu of dues and playing sports. A stand-out, he brought the Y relay swim team out front with his strong freestyle stroke. And in 1940, he took home the Chicago Tribune Golden Gloves Welterweight championship.

Enlisting in the U.S. Navy at 18 right after high school, he did a 4 ½-year stint during World War II repairing aircraft in the South Pacific. Between 1942 and 1946, he served aboard a naval carrier and helped American forces police the skies. Even far from home, Mr. Lou always found a YMCA. “No matter what location, when I was in the service in the states, I always went to the Y,” he recalls. “I knew that I could leave on a break, get a fresh shower, always. That’s just one thing you could count on.”
Y Swim Team (Mr. Lou 3rd from left)

While he was training at a U.S. Navy school in Dearborn, Michigan he met his wife, Ruth at a Valentine’s Day dance. They were so smitten with each other (and he couldn’t dance anyway) that they spent the whole time talking. One thing led to another and they got engaged. While biding time before their wedding day, he rented a room briefly at the local Y near her home in Detroit. “That’s just what single men did back then,” said Mr. Lou.

Mr. Lou quickly landed a job in automotive advertising. The Y in Detroit was in a “high-rent” district. This meant an “executive” locker room and a “regular” locker room. And it was the same for the hot tubs. “It was just men and boys back then,” said Mr. Lou. “No ladies. They couldn’t even come in to wash the towels,” he adds with a laugh. Youth sports were played like intramurals with their major external rival being the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Here, Mr. Lou became a part-time swim instructor and that’s where the name “Mr. Lou” first took.
Golden Glove Mr. Lou

Now retired and working part-time at Finley’s fitness desk, he lives in Raleigh near his daughter (he also has a son in Michigan) and five grandchildren. Mr. Lou still marvels over the differences between the “men-only” Y and the present-day Y. Back then it was truly a “young men’s” association. Today, it has grown to an all-encompassing organization that serves both genders, all ages and all socioeconomic classes. What has stayed the same, though, is the social interaction.

“This job is my connection with people. It’s my connection with the young and the old. It inspires me and gives me energy. I’m not here for the money. I need this. It’s an important part of a great life in retirement.” – Mr. Lou Brandau

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Last year, Barry Bowling was searching for a way to make a real impact in his community.

"I told my wife there is something God wants us to do. I just didn’t know what it was," says Barry. “She said to pray about it.”

Barry got his answer as listened to a radio report on the way to the beach. Six teenagers drowned in Louisiana’s Red River trying to save a friend who slipped into deeper water. None of the teenagers or adults watching from the riverbank could swim. The tragedy highlighted a startling statistic. Some 70 percent of African-American youth can’t swim, and drowning rates for young blacks are far higher than for whites.

To Barry, swimming is a rudimentary skill he can’t even remember learning, like walking or riding a bike. He taught his children to respect and feel comfortable around the water at a young age. Hearing the report about the Louisiana drownings led Barry to what he calls his epiphany.

"The light bulb went off," says Barry. "You need to create a program that teaches parents, children, people of any age, how to swim. We have to provide that outlet for folks who don't have the opportunity or funds to pay for swim lessons. I was so excited going down the road. The first thing that popped in my head was the YMCA."

Barry has been a member of the Alexander Family Y in downtown Raleigh for nearly 20 years. He participated in fund-raising efforts, but says he wasn’t a heavily involved volunteer. That changed when Barry pulled to the side of the road and called Brad Davis, YMCA of the Triangle Vice President of Development.

Getting started
“I can’t give enough credit to Brad for turning the idea around and giving it direction. Jon Mills (the Alexander YMCA Branch Director) called me within days and we went to lunch,” says Barry. “I told him I’ll find the money somewhere. Let’s get going.”

Within weeks, the Alexander Y staff developed a business plan and solicited staff members who were experts in aquatics and outreach efforts. Barry made a few tweaks and solicited donors who have a real commitment to the community. Joe Davis (Davis Wealth Management) Ven and Lisa Poole (C3 Foundation) and Karl Blackley (Preston Development Company) now sit on the steering committee. Barry describes the whole process as “lightning quick.”

Swim for Life class June 13

In March, the first free Swim for Life session was held at the YMCA’s pool on Oberlin Road. Barry, his wife and two children were there. Barry got in the pool on the fourth day.

“I helped six adult women who were between 30 and 60 years old. At the end of the lesson, they were able to swim the length of the pool unassisted,” exclaims Barry. “One of the instructors told me that at the beginning of the session, they were terrified of the water.”

This week, more than 65 children and adults are participating in the second Swim for Life sessions operated by the Alexander Family YMCA. Staff and community volunteers say they’re learning as much as participants.

"It was moving to see folks who were afraid of the water get in and have fun." says Jon Mills, Alexander Y Branch Director. "I worked with six teens and children who started the session hanging on the side of the pool and ended up swimming halfway across the pool later in the day!"

And don’t think Barry is done dreaming about the possibilities.

“At the end of three years, I’d like to see this swim program folded into the annual We Build People program through the Alexander Family Y,” says Barry. “There are other people who have the same goal, but just don’t know where to start. Let’s make it easy for other organizations. Hold this up as a model to the YMCA of the Triangle, any Y and any other organization. Here’s a program that works, that’s tested and implemented.”

Lakewood Y Construction: June 2011

Here's the latest look at Lakewood Y construction in Durham! We expect the renovated facility will open in the late fall.

Exterior June 2011


Wellness Area

Racquetball Courts

Monday, June 13, 2011

Community HOPE: Live the Dream

Too many students in our schools struggle to make the grade because they can't read. For years, our Y has been bridging the education gap through tutorial programs. One of our most successful literacy programs is Community HOPE, a one-on-one mentoring curriculum operated in the communities where children need extra educational support.

Read this end-of-school report from Jessica Russell, Community HOPE Director for the A.E. Finley YMCA. The Finley Y serves 55 children through two Community HOPE sites, Raleigh Gardens and The Oaks.

Our theme for the spring semester of Community HOPE was “Live the Dream.”

As our students met with their mentors each week, they had an activity in their folder that focused on developing their dreams - what they want to do and be in the future. Students and mentors talked about how being an independent reader is important to pursuing dreams. They also discussed why it is important to help others as we pursue our dreams.

While the activities directed our students to focus on their dreams, they also created the opportunity for mentors to get to know students on a deeper level.

Each week as we walked around the room, we would hear children say they wanted to be to become a dancer, a fashion designer or a surfer.

These conversations paved a path for a different future. Students learned that they have great potential. They also learned that there are many volunteers who want them to develop their skills, talens and goals.

At the Y, we  strengthen the foundations of our community. Through our “Live the Dream” theme this semester, there was tremendous growth in the depth of relationships shared between mentors and students.

Children and volunteers learned the small steps we take each day help us live out our dreams. 

The YMCA of the Triangle serves nearly 150 children through four Community HOPE sites in the Triangle. Click here to volunteer as a Community HOPE mentor through the Alexander Family YMCA. Click here if you're interesting in serving through the A.E. Finley YMCA.

Monday, June 6, 2011

YMCA Youth Rally 2011: We're Ready for Summer!

Y Youth Staff Paying Attention
What happens when you gather 850 YMCA Staff, add some fun videos, play loud music and learn new cheers? You have the 2011 Youth Rally!

On June 4, all of our Y Youth Staff (before school, after school, summer day camp, tracking out and nursery) met at the Raleigh Convention Center to get motivated and energized about the summer season.

We Like Skits @ the Y
They also had a lot of fun. (Sorry the pictures aren't so great. That's what happens when you're laughing hard!)

You may have seen the comment on this blog from one of our Y friends last week.

Caryn wrote, "There is no organization I trust more with my child!"

What a great compliment, Caryn. We take this youth stuff pretty seriously.

Click here to watch one of the videos Y staff created. Just another reason to be a part of the Y! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Camp Seafarer Celebrates 50 Years

Time sure flies when you're having fun. Camp Seafarer turns 50 this year!

The "official" party is Sept. 30 - Oct 2 in Arapahoe. But, we're trying to track down some old friends on June 7.

Join us on Facebook for a chat at 7 pm. And be sure to send us your camp pictures. 

Ahoy there!

Getting ready to celebrate

Learn more about Camp Sea Gull for Boys and Camp Seafarer for Girls. It's much more than a vacation!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

YOTA Dives In: Black Heritage Swim Meet

According to a study commissioned by USA Swimming, nearly 70 percent of black children and 58 percent of Hispanic children have little or no ability to swim. Fourteen years ago, a group of North Carolina parents decided to change those statistics.

They formed a traveling swim team called the North Carolina Aquablazers and in 2003, they started the National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet.

This year, 738 swimmers participated May 28-29 in Cary. The YMCA of the Triangle (YOTA) Swim Team sent 38 swimmers to the meet, 30 of them from the Durham YMCA. Read this email Durham Coach Tom Hazelett received from a parent.

Dear Tom and the YOTA Durham Coaching Staff, 

Tom & some of his YOTA team
This is to you and the other coaches. I just wanted to take the time  to thank all of you for your thoughtful dedication toward the kids. What I saw in you and your whole team of coaches is what coaching is about. Even though my kids don't swim for the Durham  YOTA team, you all took the time to give them the structured pointers that they needed to improve their abilities.

I don't want to leave out, that it was done in such a way, that they had a very fun time at the meet. You and your team of coaches, along with the kids that my kids don't normally swim with, deserve to be recognized.

Any coach can take a gifted kid and make them better, but it takes a great coach to take kids with average abilities to levels they never thought possible. You and your coaching staff have what it takes.

Thank you all.

p.s. You are building a great group of kids at the Durham site. YOTA is not just about swimming and it shows.

YOTA Team After the the Race

To learn more about the meet, listen to a recent WUNC-FM interview with Tom Hazelett, Aquatics Director at the downtown Durham YMCA and Durham site coach for the YMCA of The Triangle swim team.  To learn more about the YOTA Swim Team, click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Perfect Timing = Perfect Fit

At the Y, we know families need all the support they can get. That’s why our youth programs focus on nurturing the potential of all children. Read this post about Brandon who attends a Y After School program operated through the A.E. Finley YMCA.

Brandon Jones' kindergarten teachers informed his mom, Paige, about his hitting, kicking and impulsive behavior. And soon the Y counselors at the Hilburn Elementary school site were concerned too.

Paige scanned the Internet and decided ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was probably the culprit, but it would be several weeks before an evaluation was complete. Paige worried. Would Brandon get kicked out of school? Would he be singled out? In the meantime, would she be able to keep her job? She prayed for the answers.

Brandon & Carly
That’s when Carly Gravinese, Hilburn onsite coordinator, volunteered to switch hours so she could be with Brandon in the afternoons. She took time to interact with him, brought coloring books and activities for him to complete. She took walks with him outside.

“Brandon took to Carly right away. She knew how to calm him and gave him opportunities to interact with others,” said Paige. “He was so attached to her that when his father dropped him off once, Brandon couldn't wait to introduce him to her.”

A month later, when the diagnosis was official and Brandon was put on medication, Paige breathed a sigh of relief. And Carly saw an instant turnaround.

“It was amazing to see the transformation,” said Carly. “I saw changes even before he was diagnosed. After he got to know me and I understood what was going on, when he got upset, and started hitting or acting out, I told him how disappointed I was."

“I explained the Y’s expectations and pointed out how it feels when he hurt another child. When he did well, I praised him and helped him understand the differences.”

A month later, Carly called Paige with the bad news that she was moving to the Tracking Out program.

“I told her that I wasn't going to tell Brandon because I knew it would break his heart,” Paige said.

When Paige got used to the idea, she realized that the timing was perfect. “I believe it was God working,” she said. “Carly was there just long enough to get us through this situation. Then God said 'You've done your job.' I told Brandon that's how God works.”

“Communication is the key. The counselors take the time to communicate with us, understand and accommodate our children’s needs and always let us know what’s going on.”

Brandon is doing better at school, interacting well with others, and controlling his behavior. Now when she picks him up he's not sitting by himself, but happily playing with the other children in a group.

"Brandon’s probably touched me more than anyone in my eight years at the Y," said Carly.