Starting the new year right

By Kitsey Burns Harrison -
The weight room at the Yadkin Family YMCA. -
Kelly Dougherty demonstrates a yoga pose. -

A new year is just around the corner and for many that means a time to start fresh and begin positive new habits. Health and wellness are often the focus of New Year’s resolutions. Laken Royall, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Supervisor for Yadkin County, suggests avoiding fad diets which she says are only a “quick fix.”

“Eating healthy and changing some of your daily habits will not only help you to lose weight, but it will also help you to avoid long-term health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes,” Royall added. Tips Royall suggests include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day and watching portion size. (See sidebar for more healthy eating tips from WIC.)

Beginning a new fitness routine is another common goal many attempt at the start of a new year. Amanda Hurley, Senior Engagement Director at the Yadkin Family YMCA, said that the key for committing to a fitness routine is to find something the individual enjoys.

“That’s how you’re going to continue with it throughout the year,” she said. The YMCA offers a wide variety of options from weight machines and a walking track to aerobics classes and water-based classes as well. Hurley said that getting up and moving was what was most important.

“If you have twenty minutes you can get a great workout,” Hurley said. She said three days a week to exercise was a good goal as well, and that adding any extra movement to the day would add up. She suggested parking in the back of a parking lot and getting in extra steps or taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

“Set small goals and reward yourself,” she said, though she cautioned against using food as a reward. Instead, she said, try a self-care reward like a manicure, massage or just some time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a good book.

While many may focus on physical health at the start of a new year, it’s important, too, to cultivate good mental health. Yoga instructor Kelly Dougherty said that yoga is not only good for the physical body, but offers many benefits for the mind as well.

“When we take time to release stress from the mind and body it allows us to focus better, sleep better and be more present in all our other day to day interactions. Yoga is one was to do that,” she said.

Meditation is another way to calm the mind and have more peace of mind in the new year. The fraught political divide during the last year caused stress for many, and could even cause the holidays to be a stressful time when visiting with family members of different political opinions.

“The last year was a very interesting one, and one that was full of division, a lack of understanding and polarization among so many of us,” said Denise Lyon, who teaches meditation and mindfulness at her studio Luminous Mind Meditation in Elkin. “This high pitched political season left us stressed out, angry at each other and defensive. I hope that the new year can find us looking for ways to do things differently. Mindfulness, in my opinion, is one of the best tools for helping us stop over-identifying with our ego-self, so that we can open our hearts and minds to each other again. When we anchor ourselves in the reality of the present moment instead of in our customary tribe mentality we see our similarities instead of our differences. If we can use mindful communication in the new year — taking a deep breath and centering ourselves in the present moment and in our heart center — I think we can lower our stress, respond rather than react, make better decisions and begin to like each other again.”

“Mindfulness, or vipassana meditation, is easy to learn and will be a skill that can help you lower anxiety and ruminating thoughts, help you maintain a healthier perspective and lead a life of peace. It can change you. And when you change, you begin to see everything around you in a new way,” Lyon added.

Lyon and Dougherty will lead an all-levels yoga and meditation class on New Year’s Day at Yoga On Main in Elkin at 2 p.m. The class fee is by donation and is open to everyone.

Lyon is a McLean Meditation Institute certified meditation and mindfulness instructor. She offers classes in Elkin and in the surrounding area. She also hosts a weekly meditation group in Elkin. To find out more, visit

Dougherty teaches yoga at Yoga on Main in Elkin. For more information visit

For more information on the Yadkin Family YMCA call 336-679-7962.

For more information on WIC call 336-849-7910.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

The weight room at the Yadkin Family YMCA. weight room at the Yadkin Family YMCA.

Kelly Dougherty demonstrates a yoga pose. Dougherty demonstrates a yoga pose.

By Kitsey Burns Harrison

Take a look below at some of the healthy eating tips from the Yadkin County WIC office to get your 2018 off to a great start:

1. Start each day off with breakfast! Studies suggest that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it reduces your hunger throughout the day and helps prevent “grazing”. Try to include at least 3 of the 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein) each day.

2. Incorporate healthy snacks. Healthy snacks can help to keep you feeling full and avoid overeating at meals. Opt for 2 or more of the MyPlate food groups daily: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, or low-fat dairy such as cheese or yogurt.

3. Remember your portions. Using measuring cups and spoons is a great way to see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size.

4. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies. Increase your intake of nutrient rich fruits and veggies each day by making half of your plate fruits and veggies. Experiment with different types such as fresh, frozen, and canned.

5. Increase your fiber intake by replacing white breads, pastas, cereals, and tortillas with whole grains. Incorporating a whole grain pasta or cereal can increase your fiber intake.

6. Beware of added sugars! Foods and drinks with added sugars contribute empty calories and little or no nutrients. Reviewing the nutrition facts label on these foods can help you to identify added sugars.

7. Get Moving! At least 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise has many health benefits. You don’t have to be in the gym to get exercise—playing a game of catch or taking a walk after dinner is a great way to get active.

8. Drink more water. Increase your water intake throughout the day to help stay hydrated and cut out sugar sweetened beverages. Try adding sliced cucumber and mint leaves to ice water for a new twist.

9. Choose wisely when dining out. Look out for keywords in the menu that let you know which foods to avoid: fried, salty, battered, buttery, and creamy. Stick to menu items with words such as grilled, baked, or broiled for a healthier choice. 10. Visit or for more information and recipes.

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