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How the New Year New You expo inspired 2020 lifestyle changes, went beyond offering health tips
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Brenda Sue Whitmire leads a Tai Chi demonstration Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Many people who came to the New Year New You expo on Wednesday, Jan. 8, took away more than a couple of tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

“I recently had balance issues,” 76-year-old Carl Liggett said after he completed a screening. “I realized that I’m not as bad off as I thought I was.”

The Gainesville Civic Center was packed on Wednesday with 31 different vendors, including a range of services from the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, local dietitians, personal fitness trainers and health-related businesses. 

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Rhonda Moore, RN, left, performs a quick blood sugar test on Marilyn Weaver, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

The event, which was sponsored by The Times and the Northeast Georgia Health System, offered attendees the opportunity to participate in a 6-week healthy lifestyle challenge for a chance to win $1,000. 

Whether participants joined the challenge or not, they still left with a stronger sense of the health options in Hall County. 

“I like the expo,” Carolyn Miller said while perusing the vendor booths. “You get so much information on different things and you can follow up on it.”

Linda Miller of Gainesville said she attended the event to take advantage of the free screenings, including the allergy test.

A physician from The Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center gave mini consultations, checking for reactions to the most common allergens: cats, dust mites, dogs, grass, ragweed and trees. 

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Chrissy Caldwell performs a ultrasound bone density scan Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at the Center for Advanced Research & Education booth during the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. The expo featured health care professionals available for anyone interested in help setting and maintaining lifestyle goals. - photo by Scott Rogers

People had their arms quickly pricked and waited for 15 minutes to see if they had a small allergic response.

“This breaks down the barrier of people thinking that it’s scary and painful to go to an allergist,” Meredith Pippin, who works at the allergy center, said. “A lot of people that were tested before, especially in this age range (60-80 years old), it was this brutal process. Now it’s toothpick scratches. It’s simple.”

Charlotte Hill, a registered dietitian, helped change attendees’ perspectives on eating healthy. At her Gainesville business — Charlotte Hill Nutrition Counseling — Hill develops diet plans specific to each client’s needs. 

She said some of the biggest excuses people have for not maintaining a healthy diet includes the temptation of cravings, convenience of fast-food and not having the time to prepare food for the week. 

“I feel like a lot of people say they know how to eat healthy, but they choose not to,” Hill said. “I’m just trying to reduce the barriers and what’s blocking them from eating healthy.”

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Registered Dietitian Giselle Cram takes questions at the Bariatrics Weight Loss Center at NGMC booth Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Cecily Sharp, owner of Your CBD Store Gainesville, showed the expo’s attendees a different means of improving their health. 

She sells CBD, also called cannabidiol, in different forms like gummies, pain cream, tinctures and water soluble solutions. Not to be confused with THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, CBD is a cannabis compound derived from hemp. 

CBD can be used to ease arthritis, anxiety, chronic pain and other health-related issues. 

“I just want people to know the benefits of CBD,” Sharp said. “There’s still so many people that don’t know about it and we’re still trying to educate people.”

Across the room, therapists and coordinators from Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s physical therapy department and trauma services conducted fall screenings. The tests entailed asking participants to balance their weight in different positions. 

Elaina Lee, the trauma department’s safe kids coordinator, said falling is one of the most common injuries seen at the trauma center, next to motor vehicle crashes. 

She encourages senior citizens or those who have balance issues to get screened. 

“It’s very necessary,” Lee said. “With it being one of the top criteria of what we see in the trauma program, it’s vital for them to be screened.”

Lois Ehlers, a 65-year-old Gainesville resident, said she greatly benefited from coming to the expo and undergoing a fall screening. She now plans to sit up and down 10 times a day to improve her balance. 

“I just got a good tip on how to keep me from going to a nursing home, so I thought that was insightful” Ehlers said. 

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Steve Collins, of the Spa on Green Street, demonstrates acupuncture Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 at the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers
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