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New Year New You expo inspires lifestyle changes in 2019
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Habitat for Humanity of Hall County's Christine Osasu and Kristin Moroz, right, take part in warm ups Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the opening of the New Year New You expo at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Visitors got help setting and maintaining lifestyle goals at the New Year New You expo Friday at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Attendees at the Jan. 18 event, which was organized by The Times and sponsored by the Northeast Georgia Health System, were offered the opportunity to participate in a 13-week healthy lifestyle challenge for a chance to win $1,000.

Whether people wanted to shed some pounds or had other resolutions such as saving money or learning to defend themselves, the event’s vendors helped lead them in the right direction.

“I want to get healthier and lose some weight,” Dodi Roesler said. “I always need motivation and I can’t do it on my own.”

David Hall, who attended the event with his wife Pat, said he wanted advice to help him fulfill his New Year’s resolution.

“I’m a survivor of esophageal cancer and I lost 60 pounds, so I’m trying to gain my weight back,” he said.

Hall said he is working with the dietitians at Longstreet Clinic to seek out a personal food regimen.

And for those working to lose weight, they could learn about weight loss surgery at the event.

Giselle Cram Ortiz, dietitian with Northeast Georgia Health System, said “it’s very misunderstood in the community because people think it’s an aesthetic kind of thing, but it really isn’t, it’s a lifesaver kind of surgery.”

Ortiz said the surgery helps people who are morbidly obese and have chronic diseases that are hindering their lives.

She offers council to these surgical patients in addition to her weight management role as a dietitian.

“The surgery is a tool for weight loss, but it’s not a magic pill,” Ortiz said. “The patients still have to make behavioral and lifestyle changes to be successful for the long-term.”

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Personal trainers Chris Foeste and Tommie Griffith, left, lead vendors in warm up stretches Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, at the New Year, New You expo at Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Between visiting the many vendor booths and listening for the prize giveaways, attendees of the expo were called out to the main floor to participate in stretching exercises led by Limestone Personal Fitness. And a photo booth was available where many shared their 2019 resolutions.

People also learned a thing or two about self-defense from Christy Dove, an independent director with Damsel In Defense.

Dove stressed the importance of always having an option of protection. She read aloud statistics, stating that one in three women are survivors of domestic violence, and one in five people are survivors of sexual assault.

Through Damsel In Defense, she works to equip, empower and educate women and families on personal safety.

Dove demonstrated different defense tools Damsel In Defense offers, including a stun gun, pepper spray and a kubaton, which is a martial arts device used to hit pressure points.

Damsel In Defense also sells pepper spray and stun guns that have a disabling pen, which can be removed to prohibit an attacker from using the device.

“We’re not trying to scare people into buying products,” Dove said. “We want to educate you on having something to protect yourself. Situational awareness is the biggest thing. Get your head out of that cellphone and pay attention.”

Offering an alternative to going to the gym, representatives of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia encouraged people at the event to join the Life Saver Circle or volunteer at their facility.

“Come volunteer because it’s a good workout as well,” said Sam Threadgill, the development director at the Humane Society. “In our adoption center, some stay for one day and some stay for a year. A majority of our donations goes toward taking care of those animals.”

Monthly donations can be made with the Life Saver Circle program. Threadgill said people can give any amount of money to help the rescue all year long. The nonprofit has 100 supporters who participate. People can also choose to sponsor a particular animal.

Leah Nelson, director of revenue at The Times, worked as the main coordinator of the expo. Nelson said she was excited to see her months of planning come to fruition.

“For us as a company, I hope people continue to see us truly engaged with our community,” she said. “For people who are participating, I hope we’re there to encourage them.”

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