How to Make Wellness Sustainable

At Volunteers of America, our dedicated staff work hard to care for the most vulnerable individuals in our community. As a result we place a high value on healthy lifestyles and seek to encourage and support employees in their efforts towards wellbeing.

Gary Zapata is one such employee who has shown leadership in the arena of healthy practices. Below, Gary shares the practical ways he sustains a healthy lifestyle: Gary3

 What are your top 3 healthy habits?

“For a snack during the day I’ll have nuts, which are easy and healthy.

My wife and I shop on the outside edge of the grocery store, mostly, except for ice cream and freshly frozen veggies.

We also walk to the park with our son, Lucas, in the stroller—it’s a mile there, we walk in the park, and then a mile back. For five years my wife and I did not have a car, so we walked everywhere in the city.”

What is your favorite healthy food?

“As a comfort food at my house we eat lentils with carrots, potatoes, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. We eat it with pita and yogurt.”

Do you have any guilty pleasures as far as food or activities?

Gary Slide“I like Candy, especially Smarties. I also definitely like to have a bag of Doritos on Super Bowl Sunday–it’s part of the experience.”

Do you face any challenges to your wellness?

“Scheduling—when you have a lot of roles and you have to serve your family members, your friendships, your community, and your work, it can be difficult to make time for your needs.”

What do you think drives you to be fit?

“It’s internal. I am very competitive with myself. I am often striving to be better in various aspects of life. I also enjoy the camaraderie of sports when I am able to play them.”

What’s your fondest fitness memory or experience?

“Going on 4-5 hour long walks with my wife (then girlfriend), in college when we were in Madrid.”

In your own words, what is wellness?

Gary Bike

“Wellness is having good habits that can last a lifetime. It is not performing herculean acts or doing extreme diets, but having a balanced set of habits that can be maintained. It is not always easy, but it is sustainable.”

 Gary does a great job of maintaining wellness on a personal level. To support our employees with their fitness goals, we offer ongoing initiatives such as reduced gym membership costs, a walking club (that is participating in the upcoming Crescent Connection Bridge Run), free yoga trial memberships, Biggest Loser competitions, our Wellness Fair, financial wellness consultations, and spiritual wellness opportunities.

The pathway to well-being is multifaceted, but Volunteers of America is proud to be a positive part of the journey.

 Gary and his family will soon be moving to Seattle for new opportunities. We appreciate Gary’s many contributions to Volunteers of America over the years–including the example of wellness he’s been for our staff–and he will be greatly missed. We wish the very best of luck to Gary as he embarks on this new endeavor!

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