Strive for 5



What will losing 5 pounds mean for you? Will it be the start of a long-term weight loss goal? Or maybe a “check-in” with yourself since you’ve put on a few pounds over the years? Five pounds may seem like a lot for some, and for others may just be a drop in the bucket, but either way it is all about the “can-do” attitude!

You will be receiving general e-mails containing challenges throughout the month as well as answers to YOUR food & nutrition questions along the way. Your job is to become your own biggest fan–we mean it! A healthy life begins with you. You are in control of your own happiness. YOU CAN DO IT! Wahoo! You are great!

Mini Challenge: Compliment yourself every day. What do you love about yourself? Write loving notes on your mirror, or surround yourself with pictures or music that make you feel good. Staying positive will lead to great success through this journey.

Challenge #1

We’re going to dive right in here since we only have 4 weeks. Your first challenge is to add at least 3 EXTRA cups of non-starchy vegetables every day. Ideally, make HALF of your plate vegetables at EVERY meal, including breakfast! That’s a lot easier when you eat eggs in the morning. If not, take those vegetables and have them as a snack later on. Starchy vegetables include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and peas. Focus on non-starchy vegetables which include nearly all other vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, beets, carrots, summer squash, tomatoes.

Psst! For great success, you’ll want to:

  1. Plan out your food shopping. Make a grocery list and stick to it. Since half of your plate should be vegetables at each meal, that means at least half of the shopping cart should be vegetables too. If these habits are going to stick, they need to be realistic. Aim to food shop once/week. Get lettuces for the beginning of the week, more hearty vegetables such as broccoli and eggplant for mid-week, and beets, carrots, cabbage, or frozen vegetables for the end of the week.
  2. Prepare foods ahead. While you’ve got the kitchen a mess cooking one meal, you might as well cook a few more. Clean/cut/prep veggies for the next few days, then throw a bunch in the oven, grill, or stove to make them easy to add in to meals. Set yourself up for success.


Now it is time for some physical activity. Not sure where to start? Let’s clarify some terms.

Cardio exercise is any repetitive motion performed continuously. This can be walking, running, swimming, rowing, dancing or biking. In 2009, the Surgeon General recommended that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week–30 minutes per day for at least five days per week.

What is moderate to intense exercise? We recommend you use Rate of Perceived Exertion to determine your intensity level. Ask yourself on a scale from 1-10, how does this feel? 1 being hanging out on the couch and 10 being your max. The RPE scale is used to measure the intensity of your exercise. The numbers relate to how easy or difficult you find an activity.

Strength training is just as important. Not only will you be strengthening your muscles but your bones as well. Muscle burns calories to build and maintain. An overall increase in your metabolism will also help with any fat loss goals. Muscle strength is how much weight a muscle can lift at one time and muscle endurance is the muscle’s capacity to do a repetitive exercise. Both are important in daily living activities or what we call functional strength. At the Y we also have plenty of options available to you; free weights, select machines and other toys to play with.

Our favorite cardio question is, which machine is the best? The answer is always–the one you hate the least. You don’t have to love every minute to appreciate the benefits and we have a bunch of different machines to provide variety. We are also available for an orientation with you in our Fitness Center on how to use any of our machines.

There are plenty of class options to achieve cardio and strength goals for you including Les Mills Body Pump, cycling, Zumba and yoga. Check out our schedule on our new app!

Here are some additional tips and etiquette to start your first week. Bring and drink water. Wipe down the equipment after you use it, trust me–you hope the person did it before you. Share equipment. If you are taking breaks between sets, let someone else jump in. Also, do not be afraid to ask someone to work in between their sets.

Enjoy the journey! We will be back next week with even more tips!

Marina Bedrossian | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist |

Christina Butcher | Health and Wellness Director |


If you accepted the challenge last week, I bet you’re feeling GREAT this week. But don’t let those habits you’ve begun to form slip away. Let’s keep up with the extra vegetables and add on.

Mini Challenge

  1. Get out a pen and paper. Yes, an actual writing utensil and paper.
  2. Picture it: The person you love most calls you on the phone and tells you about how they want to lose some weight. You can tell by their tone that they’re not confident they will succeed. Maybe they’ve tried dieting in the past and regained the weight, or maybe they don’t think they have the time or energy to put their health first. The more they talk about it, the more they put themselves down…..
  3. Write down what you would say to them.
  4. Put this paper somewhere you will see each day. We all need positive self-talk each day, throughout the day-especially if you’ve been less than kind to yourself lately.

Challenge #2

Write down everything you eat when you eat it. It is best to write it down in a book or on paper, but it will also work if you record it electronically. The idea is to become aware of EVERYTHING you eat and drink. Ask yourself if you’ve made healthy choices. If not, why not? How can we turn those choices around? Journaling foods eaten takes some mindfulness and sometimes planning. It pushes us to go through the ideal thought process before eating.

Psst! For great success, you may want to make columns in your journal for:
  • Time of day
  • Food eaten and amount
  • Thoughts/feelings before eating
  • Thoughts/feelings after eating


Hopefully you’ve had a chance to try something new or add spark to your current routine. This week we have some more terms that will help change up your routine if you are in a rut!

Circuit Training is when you complete a series of exercises in a row with limited or no rest in between. Circuit training is a great way to keep your workout interesting. You can keep it all strength allowing for full rest of a muscle group before you get around to doing it again without waiting or playing on your phone to kill time. You can also add cardio intervals between exercises or at the end before you restart the circuit. A rule of thumb for all is that you can do anything for 1 minute. Adding little bursts to increase your heart rate will also increase your metabolism!

What about supersets? A superset is when you perform 2 exercises in a row without rest between them but rest after them. You can pick the same muscle group or 2 different muscle groups. For example you can do squats followed by lunges which works the same muscle group or you can do push ups and rows to work two different body parts.

Should you do exercises that benefit total body or separate body parts? This question comes up often and it is suggested that you analyze your week before answering. There are weeks where you can make it to the gym only once or twice. For those weeks, do total body exercises with 24 hours of rest before repeating. However, if you are able to get to the gym multiple times in the week, especially on consecutive days, break the body up to allow for proper rest. Proper rest is 24 hours.

Which exercises should you do first cardio or strength? There are plenty of articles and research done on this. No matter which exercise you choose, make sure you warm up. A warm up should be 8-10 minutes of work that increases your heart rate and core body temperature before you perform strength exercises. A good tip is to do your favorite (cardio or strength) exercises last. It will be far easier to stay and finish your favorite exercises if you have gotten the least favorite out of the way. It also may be easier to find a reason (excuse) to leave after your favorite is completed. We also have a tendency to need more of what we don’t want to do!

Last question for the week: How much cardio should I do? Listen to your body. If you can only do a little bit at a time that is just fine! In the end, your body does not know the difference between 30 minutes of cardio performed at one time or three 10-minute segments. All exercise throughout the day counts for that day. This is a technique used by all levels including marathon runners during training when they break up big runs due to lifestyle constraints. So remember what you do in a 24-hour period all counts. You can blend the cardio between strength exercises, split it up throughout your day or do it all at once. It all counts in the end!

Enjoy the week! We will be back next week as we approach the half-way mark.

If you have any questions, please reach out at any time!

Marina Bedrossian | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist |

Christina Butcher | Health and Wellness Director |

Wow! Time is flying by! We have already hit week 3. The next two weeks should be a breeze.


Mini Challenge

Ask yourself, “How can I make this meal/snack healthier?” each day. Reflect on what you are eating and notice if there is room for improvement. Lastly, how can you implement that improvement?


Challenge #3

By now, half of your plate is made up of non-starchy vegetables…but what about the rest? 

Are you getting the right amount of protein? When it comes to losing weight, a higher protein intake can help you feel satisfied and retain muscle mass. However, it is easy to over-do the protein too. An excess amount of protein contributes an excess amount of calories into the diet which can make losing weight difficult. Good sources of protein include eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, beans, nuts, and legumes.

Men: Aim for 6 oz/meal or approximately 1.5 cups cooked beans per meal

Women: Aim for 3-4 oz/meal or approximately 1 cup cooked beans per meal

Are you getting too many carbohydrates? Healthy sources of carbohydrates come from starchy vegetables, roots/tubers, whole grains, beans/legumes, and fruit. Aim for 1/4 of your plate to make up these foods.

Men: Aim for 1/2 – 3/4 cup per meal

Women: Aim for 1/3-1/2 cup per meal


If you are looking at a nutrition fact label, aim for 15-30 g “total carbohydrates” per meal.

Psst! The trick to losing weight is not eating too much, but making sure you eat enough. The guidelines laid out in this challenge are just that—guidelines. Weighing yourself on a weekly basis will give you an idea if you are eating too much. It is also important to listen to your body. You shouldn’t feel overly full after meals, and you shouldn’t be hungry all of the time. If you are looking for a more personalized approach, feel free to reach out to me at to schedule a private 60-minute nutrition session. These may be at the Huntington YMCA or over the phone. Please call 631-421-4242 to purchase the session.



You are more than half way there! This is our drop off point for most participants but not you! Right?! Keep the momentum going! 

Michaela, Health and Wellness Coordinator, joined your support team with her favorite physical challenge this week: HIIT!


Now that you have the fundamentals of exercise, what are some types of workouts you can do to get your heart rate up and burn calories?

A favorite type by a lot of members is HIIT-style training.  What does HIIT stand for? High Intensity Interval Training. This does not mean that it has to be high impact.  You can accomplish a HIIT workout anywhere with low impact exercises. This type of training should not be done every day because of the energy and effort put forth and should last anywhere from 20-60 minutes. 

So what is HIIT? HIIT is classified as repeated bouts of high energy exercises followed by a short rest. Some of you may have heard of TABATA training; this is one particular type of HIIT that is performed by doing 20 seconds of high energy work, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times to equal 4 minutes of work. The work to rest intensity ratio should be 80-95% of a person’s maximum heart rate to 40-55% of a person’s maximum heart rate for rest/recovery. HIIT training can be done anywhere; on a cardio machine, outside, in the fitness center; using bodyweight, machines or gadgets.  When developing a HIIT program, consider the duration, intensity, and frequency of the work intervals and the length of the recovery intervals. Be sure to spread your HIIT workouts out throughout the week to prevent injury, exhaustion/lack of performance. Be sure to get doctors clearance before doing such vigorous activity.

Now that you have the basics of HIIT, do you think you can incorporate it into your workout?

Do you know how to calculate your heart rate? Here is the most commonly used equation: 220 – Resting Heart Rate = Max Heart Rate 

Once you have your Max Heart Rate you can multiply it by your desired percentage to find your range. There are many other ways to calculate heart rate, but this is the most common. Remember there are a many factors that that can alter your heart rate so your percentage will vary from day to day. Amount of sleep, medications you are taking, recent illness including the common cold, and vitamins can affect your heart rate. Remember the Rate of Perceived Exertion we discussed in the first week? You can use this for HIIT too! For example 40%= 4 on the scale and 80%= 8

So what happens if you cannot make it to the Y for your workout? Life happens. There are plenty of times that life gets in the way of our Health and Wellness goals. Don’t let it!

  • Add extra steps during the day, use the stairs instead of elevator if available and park a little further away from the entrance.
  • You can also do exercises at home! Squats, Lunges, Glute Bridges, Leg Raises and Kick Backs are all great leg exercises using your body weight.
  • Push-ups on the wall or ground and pull up are great for your upper body and core.
  • Keep in mind you have weights at home too even if you don’t know it. Soup cans and water jugs make great resistance equipment for endless exercises. Single Arm Rows, Chest Press or Flys, Bicep Curls, Overhead or lateral raises and Kick Back to name a few. Don’t forget your core with Dead Bugs and crunches.

We hope to see you at the Y this week. When you can’t make it–create your own workout at home maybe even make it a HIT!

If you have any questions, please reach out at any time! 

Marina Bedrossian | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist |

Christina Butcher | Health and Wellness Director |

You’re in the homestretch! Hopefully, you are close to your goal of losing 5 lbs.?  If you need some support, you can reach out with any questions that are preventing you from reaching your goals and we can help you get there. Here’s the challenge for WEEK 4….good luck this week!


Mini challenge #4: What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Take a cooking class? Go on a bike trip? Go horseback riding? Think about what you love to do and try to include it in your life on a regular basis.

Challenge #4: America doesn’t have an obesity problem, we have a mindless problem! We are always in a rush, and there’s really no time in the day to eat slowly and enjoy our food…right? Slowing down may seem like a luxury, but it can teach us a lot. Now, the journaling you’ve started was a way to get you to slow down and become more mindful (sneaky, I know!), but now we need to build on top of that. 

Check out this Hunger scale

1=Feeling faint, I need to eat something immediately.

2=I definitely need to stop what I am doing and get something to eat. I might start to feel lightheaded or irritated. 

3=I am hungry and the urge to eat is strong.

4=I am beginning to feel a slight hunger. My stomach is making room for my next meal.

5=Neutral, not hungry, not full

6=Somewhat satisfied, feeling some food in my stomach but can eat more. Will probably feel hungry again in about 2 hours.

7=Comfortably satisfied, hunger is definitely gone.

8=I took a few bites too many. I should slow down very soon to prevent feeling uncomfortable.

9=Very full, beginning to feel an uncomfortable pressure in my stomach

10=Painfully full, I feel the need to sit or lay down.


Practice asking yourself “Am I hungry?” each time you reach to eat something. Remember, hunger comes from your stomach (physical hunger), not your head (cravings). Use this hunger scale to rate your degree of hunger before, during, and after meals. 

Ideally, you will eat when you are around a “3”, and stop eating when you are “7”.  We are not looking to become full, we are looking to get rid of the hunger. There’s a big difference!

Practice eating without distractions. Sit at a table if possible. Hands off of the phone!

Think “how does this food make me feel?” Eating ice cream all day might sounds like the perfect day, but how would your body feel? You might even crave a salad afterwards!

  • Eat what makes your body happy and healthy
  • Ditch the diet mentality
  • Manage your stress
  • Enjoy your food
  • Slow down
  • Be positive



Well folks this is our last full week. This is a great opportunity to self reflect if you’re on target to hit your goals and possibly create new ones or adjust your action plan. I attended a training this month which broke down action plans really well and I challenge you to do the same. 

  • What are you going to do different in your routine this week?
  • When are you going to do it? Be specific I and set an appointment if you can.
  • How often during the week are you going to do it? 

On a scale from 1-10, how confident are you that you can achieve your action plan? If your answer is less than a 7, adjust it to increase your confidence. Maybe not as frequent or as long if needed.


Try a new fitness class this week. No matter your goals or fitness level, we have a class for you. 

My second challenge for you is to stop by the fitness center or at the front desk and ask someone to highlight the best classes for you to try.  I know classes are “not for everyone” but I can almost guarantee you will be pushed to try something different and possibly even a longer workout without even realizing because you are changing things up a bit. If you are trying a class for the first time, please introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know any physical concerns you may have so they can offer modifications. 

Remember, have fun!

Marina Bedrossian | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist |

Christina Butcher | Health and Wellness Director |

Well it’s the final week’s challenge. We hope you are close to accomplishing your goals. If you have any questions or need additional support during the week, please reach out at any time!



Nutrition for the long-haul.

Healthy eating isn’t about dieting, or short-term success. There is no “end-point”. No finish line. Therefore, there is no point in time to quit these healthy habits.

Let’s use your calendar in order to stay on track with your goals. Pick a day of the week to do your food shopping (it may vary every so often, but choose a day that tends to work the best overall). Create an “appointment” on that day of the week for each week, ongoing to do your food shopping/meal planning/preparation. Now you have a reminder each week of your healthy eating goals, and an action plan.

Long-term success is habit-driven. We are essentially building a new foundation, a new “norm” in your lifestyle. This way, no matter what life throws at you, you will come back to this solid foundation of planning and preparing healthy foods.


PSST!: Staying on track, is not easy! People always tell me they fell off track when they went on vacation, got sick, had a holiday weekend, etc. The problem is, they don’t get back on track! Don’t let this be you.



  • Keep up with weekly weights.
  • Sign up for a healthy eating magazine subscription. Healthy, flavorful recipes will entice you to stay on track.
  • Share your love of health with your friends. Plan dates to spend time outside or take a cooking class.
  • Check in with your doctor regularly. Routine visits are important for prevention, so don’t be shy!


This is it right? I hope not. Hopefully this month’s challenge has become a lifestyle adjustment. What have you adapted into your routine? HIIT? Home workouts when you can’t make it to the Y? Heart Rate Monitoring or Rate of Perceived Exertion?


My tip for you this week is understanding the repetition range. Your body does not know how many times you do an exercise. What is does know is how long you had the muscle under tension. When you do higher repetitions with lower weight you focus on the endurance muscle fibers. When you do lower repetitions with higher weight you focus on the strength muscle fibers. Both muscle fibers are very important for life. No matter which one you are focusing on the last repetition you do should be the last one your body could do with smooth good form. Failure is a good thing in fitness. When you truly fatigue the muscle you will get stronger. Failure will not make you “big and bulky.” If an exercise does not challenge you and is easy, unfortunately your gains are limited, if at all.


My challenge for you this week is to monitor your exercises and every 6 weeks change the range you are focusing on. This will give you strength for life, help with overall fitness goals, weight goals, of course keep it interesting so you don’t get bored but it also does not allow your muscles to adapt. Our bodies adapt quickly to the challenge we provide it. If our fitness routines remain the same your body will eventually no longer receive the benefits to the challenge.

Hopefully you are doing strength training exercises 2-3 times a week and challenging weight to experience strength goals. For 6 weeks I recommend 8-10-12 as your repetition range and for 6 weeks after that 16-18-20. Maybe even attempting plyos or more body weight exercises for 2-4 weeks after the endurance phase and move back into strength following the cycle.


Here is a safe way to progress and get stronger: If you do a challenging weight with 8 reps and 8 becomes easy, try 10 reps. When 10 reps becomes easy, try 12. When 12 reps becomes easy, increase the weight and go back to 8 reps. This is a safe progression for increasing strength and challenging your body. After 6 weeks, change the reps to 16, 18 and 20 using the same progression.




Marina Bedrossian | Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist |

Christina Butcher | Health and Wellness Director |