Facing rising obesity rates, Lake County YMCA urges residents to “Get Moving.”

Do you have a taste for something sweet? A craving for desserts? If you combine that with a sedentary lifestyle, it could be a recipe for obesity. (Photo by Dave Raith).

TAVARES – Sometimes it’s not easy to be honest and just level with people. Tom Breck fully understands this.
“I had a couple come into my office last night, a girl and her mom who was probably in her 40s,” said Breck, the executive director of the Golden Triangle YMCA Family Center. “Their goal this summer was to lose 100 pounds total.”
Normally, in his position at the YMCA, Breck would heartily welcome anyone who had made the decision to get off the couch, join his association, and start an exercise routine that helps them get into shape and become healthier. But as he sat there, he couldn’t help but think of their goal: to lose 100 pounds.
“They need to probably double that,” he said. “They’ve got some work to do. I looked at the girl. She’s 15, and she could stand to lose about 70 pounds. How do you tell someone that?”
The Golden Triangle YMCA is fully conscious of the growing obesity problem confronting this nation – and Lake County. In an effort to reduce obesity rates, Golden Triangle kicked off a campaign last Saturday called “Get Moving Lake County,” which encourages residents to get active, get into shape, and do more to improve their quality of life. As Breck noted, the campaign is “focused on bringing people together for a solution to reduce the alarming obesity trends in our county. It starts with just trying to walk and move a little more.”
At the rally, held at the YMCA at 1465 David Walker Drive in Tavares, participants were encouraged to walk 10,000 steps a day for the entire month, and they were offered free pedometers to help them keep track. The rally participants also got a free month-long YMCA membership pass.
The campaign is being sponsored by Florida Waterman Hospital, the Lake County School Board Foundation and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The Lake County Board of County Commissioners also voted unanimously to support the campaign.
“The statistics are pretty staggering,” said Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell. “ With 65 percent of Lake County adults being considered overweight or obese, 29 percent not having had any physical activity in the last 30 days, and 35 percent being diagnosed with high blood pressure, my hope is that all Lake County residents will participate in the campaign.”
Breck knows that won’t be an easy task. He said that while interviewing the 15-year-old girl and her mother, he had a hard time getting them focused on a exercise regiment that would really impact their weight.
“They came in all excited to do this,” he said. “I showed them the facility, but I said, ‘This is the part about getting started, now is the hard part where it’s going to be some work.’ I had to find out, ‘How committed are you, how can I help you, when do you get out of work, how are we going to do this?’ I got them started in the Y, and they had their first orientation today, and I told them, ‘I’m going to be your accountability partner.’
“But they’re the classic example,” he added. “They admitted they’re lazy. It was the first day, and they’re already coming up with excuses.”

Do deep-fried onion rings sound tastier than a side salad? That could be one reason why obesity rates are on the rise. (Photo by Dave Raith).

Still, Breck says it’s vital that people take that crucial first step – admitting they need to lose weight, and going someplace to work it off.
“Fate just put them in front of me,” he said. “But it could be exciting. Every little bit helps.”
Exercising is also not as difficult as some people might think, he added. A workout routine doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the gym. It could be as simple as getting up off the couch or easy chair and walking more.
“If you go to Publix, park in the back and walk,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to take the stairs rather than the elevator, do it. Rather than sit and watch TV, watching people do something, get up and do it yourself.”
So far, he added, the campaign has gotten off to a healthy start.
“We’ve already had 240 people register with this,” he said. “We did this last year as well. It’s well known this is an issue, and the statistics are alarming. It’s just staggering to me. When we started this, we said ‘Let’s just do something to get people started and bring down every hurdle possible.’ We’re spearheading this, but we’re also trying to get other busineses involved.”
To learn more about the campaign, call the Golden Triangle YMCA at 352-343-1144, Ext. 224.

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