New Nutrition for Denise

Today’s BetterU Blog is from Denise! She attended yesterday’s nutrition seminar by Roufia Payman, DT, CDN!


Yesterday was a real eye opener for me.  As a result of Roufia’s class, I spent almost 2 hours in the grocery store last night.  Trust me, I’ve never spent that much time in a grocery store in y

ears.  I’m usually just a grab and go shopper – getting the essentials and whatever I’m craving while I’m there.

Living alone now (of course with my cats) and not having to cook for anyone buy myself has me kind of spoiled.  I come and go as I please, and of course, I eat whatever I want, whenever I want.   Yesterday – I swear, I could hear Roufia screaming, “Denise it’s poison, put it down!”  Not that I wanted to buy anything particularly bad but I’ve been a Splenda girl for many years and I really wanted to buy another box.  Instead, I decided to try using the Stevia that I already had in my pantry.

Roufia Payman, DT, CDN, from Northern Dutchess Hospital/Health Quest, (left) with 2018 BetterU Challengers

I actually chuckled to myself when I was walking around, finding it hard to believe how “spooked” I am now about not eating right and the affect poor eating habits will continue to have on my body.  Another thing, when I got home and started washing and cutting up my vegetables and also preparing my meals for the rest of the week, I did feel peaceful.

I felt proud of myself for not getting the family sized bag of Cheese Doodles that I really wanted to buy myself as a treat – you know, if I walk to my mailbox then I get to eat two or three.  Again, Roufia screams, “No Denise, put it back!”.  So I must say, three solid weeks of eating right and not cheating at all have served me right.  This morning, I am actually wearing a dress that I could not zip up a month ago,  I’m excited and I’m looking forward to continuing on this incredible journey with all of my BetterU ladies!

Have a blessed day!


By |August 15th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

Big Changes in Week One

BetterU Participant Judy Shares Her Week One Recap!

Judy and Emily, 2018 BetterU Challengers after working out

The 3D body scan gave me a scare! Actually, seeing the scan probably was the best thing because it made me really commit and realize I had to make a change to Better Me.

I had a good week . I had a week off from work which made it easier. Changed a lot of things in my life. Cleaned out my cabinets and refrig of all the things I should not be eating and tried to fill with healthy foods. I begin to exercise which I haven’t done in so long it is hard to remember when. Tried to prepare myself mentally for the challenges ahead. Week 1 made me realize that at the end I had much more energy  from the previous week before I started. Didn’t know that it could happen so soon but I am committed to keep going forward!

I went to the gym 6 six times and to 4 classes ( Bodypump, bodyflow, sneakers and Zumba). I was able to do this  because of the ladies in this challenge with me that supported and motivated me through.  Otherwise, I’m sure I would not have completed whole class. They are a great group of ladies.

I enjoy all the information from former participants in the BetterU program . It does make it real hearing their stories. Thanks for all the support motivation and enthusiasm you give. I am really looking forward to first team training and the seminars! I am so blessed to be part of this journey!

By |August 13th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Keep Breathing–Week One Recap from Jaime

Blog post today from JAIME BUTLER!

For me, the best parts of week 1 was just pushing myself to make each day count either at the gym or when making choices about my meals, the support of my co-workers/friends/parents for my efforts and the support or feedback from the group via our group Facebook page.  We are cheering each other on and celebrating victories like nobody’s business and it’s so awesome to watch and be a part of.

What I’m struggling with is making up the time I’m taking during the day to try and fit in the gym time at Gold’s/other appointments, not being able to select classes at the times that are actually easiest for me and my schedule because they don’t exist, and pressuring myself to get as many trips in to Golds because that is what is being tracked. Let’s also not forget, comparing myself to others…some days that seems like the hardest one to unlearn.

Working late at night after my children are in bed gets old….real fast.  I know myself, I’m not going to be able to get up and get to a 5:30am class.  It’s hard to leave the office and try one that is mid-late morning  and I’m typically still trying to collect children around those 5:30pm time frame ones.  7-7:30pm is prep time for children to get to bed and the coming day.  It would be fantastic if there were classes between 1-3:30pm because I could possibly step out for my “lunch” or when I leave the office before my road trip to get children begins.  If I get to the gym for a half hour on a day during the week or an hour on the weekend, it seems like such a huge accomplishment but I see posts about 2 hour trips and double classes and I feel like I put myself on an impossible mission at times.

This week my goals are:  keep breathing and taking it one day at a time, make up the time I can in the current week and handle any residual in the following week so I feel less pressured and on this relentless make up time hamster wheel, remind myself that I just need to do what works for me so if that means that I’m not checking in at Gold’s and getting that tracked and using another method for fitness, it’s OKAY!  If I can get a half hour trip in or a class or two over the course of the weekend – That’s enough!  This is me and this is what I can handle and its more than I was doing before.

I’m very much looking forward to my team training this week and the seminar on Friday where I’ll be able to see the whole gang again!  Much love and congratulations to all of you ladies for our first week.

By |August 7th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

BetterU Week 2

Better U week 2!  Blog post by Anne De Muro!

I’m finding it difficult to chronicle my thoughts regarding the program.  I knew it was going to be a great opportunity.  I knew that being selected to participate meant I would have access to a laundry list of resources geared towards helping me achieve success.

I never anticipated the sense of sisterhood I would feel in such a short time. From day one it’s as if I’ve walked into a giant group hug with each person whispering ‘you’ve got this’.


I’ve been doing a little soul-searching since I received the call telling me that I was one of the chosen (lol…sounds so mysterious). Truth be told – I’ve been quite emotional.   Been asking myself so many questions and actually listening to me for a change. What’s going on Anne?  What’s going to be different THIS time?

So, here it is.  Plain. Simple. Real. Raw.

I’m frightened.  I’m so afraid I will fail.  I am afraid that I will stumble yet again.   I’ve been on a diet and exercise rollercoaster for most of my 58 years of life.  I don’t want that again.  I don’t want that to be the case this time.  I need to change my mindset.  Need to accept that I have the right (and responsibility) to take care of me.

Not going to blow this opportunity.  Not going to hide my fears  or self-sabotage like I have in the past.

This, this is different.  I get to step into the group hugs.  I get to hear my fellow Better Uers whispering my name and chanting a collective  ‘you go girl’.

No quick fixes.  No temporary changes.  No sabotaging.

This time I’m enjoying the journey.  This time I’m in it for me.  This time I’m a part of that collective hug because I truly heart me.

By |August 7th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Still Trying

Blog post submitted by SHARI!

I was so ready to change my life, in little ways, a day at a time and thanks to the AHA, Central Hudson & Gold’s Gym, I was all in. But it appears that the powers that be have conspired against me. I knew time would be an issue – I seldom make time for myself, with a demanding job, an aging parent and an ailing dog. I had committed to going to the gym three times a week and doing a yoga class on Saturdays.

The first week I planned on attending a boxing class at 6:30 pm, but as I was leaving the office, there was an emergency and I did not get out until it was too late. All was not lost, as I was scheduled to meet my Trainer and have a scan on Wednesday, however, I did not realize there would be a work out afterwards and arrived in flip flops. Needless to say, the session had to be re-scheduled. Then the morning I was to go, I was asked to go to the veterinarian surgeon earlier than scheduled. I finally met Brittany Friday and she is awesome and I was psyched for my yoga class the next day. Then the storm hit and the power outage. Well, you get the idea. I hope that my slow start will end in a strong finish and I remain thankful for the opportunity to participate.

By |August 6th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Strong Start to BetterU

Blog post by 2018 BetterU Participant EMILY DARROW!

The BetterU journey is amazing. I’m still in disbelief that I was lucky enough to be chosen by this program. During Friday’s orientation and public announcement, I was so moved by each of my BetterU Class of 2018’s stories – my amazing teammates on this journey. Then, during the speeches, Denise VanBuren floored me with the statistic that more women die from heart disease than any of the cancers combined. I know I knew that, but until that moment, really hadn’t processed it. It made this interior call to action to first apply and then really commit to this program all the more important. Lisa Morris just rocked it as she shared her experience last year – and that the downside was having to buy new clothes as she lost weight!

As we toured the gym with Phil, I looked at all the equipment, the dedicated gym goers using it, and felt more than a little fear. My gym experience is heading in and using the pool – that’s it. Now I’d be traveling way out of my comfort zone. When we had our first team training after the tour with the samples of the different programs, I was more than afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. How would my knee do? But first Lindsay gave a wall option for push ups – YES! Then DQ just had this general air of reassurance as he took us through a great drill. By the end of the time, I won’t say I wanted more, but I knew that this was just what I needed!

Today, I’m really looking forward to my first meeting with my trainer. I’m a little nervous about where I’ll stand with both the baseline read from HealthQuest and the full body scan at Gold’s this afternoon, but I’m all about knowing the good – and the bad. Last night, I went on a treadmill for the first time in years. I thought it would be “easy.” Ha! I was feeling it when the time approached 10 minutes, but convinced myself to continue to 15, then to keep going to make the mile, then a little more to burn 150 calories, then 175.

And then it slowed down. I’d made it to the magic 30 minute mark. I think that made me feel as good as practically anything.

But activity is just one of the things that has to be modified during these 12 weeks. I know that changing and enhancing diet is also key. A week ago, at a friend’s urging I downloaded an app and began tracking every meal. This has been incredibly eye opening. I’m not a sweets person. I don’t like breads. But just a few teaspoonfuls of sugar and cream in my coffee was something that had to go. I think summer is the easiest time to diet as the fresh fruit and veggies are all around us in the Hudson Valley. For lunch (and a lot of dinners), I just have a simple watermelon salad, with a sprinkling of feta and mesclun. It’s filling, easy and delicious. I’ve lost 8 pounds since last Monday, with a LOT more to go. But even more important than the weight loss is the empowerment and support by being surrounded by 13 amazing and inspirational women. Thanks, BetterU!


By |August 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

Small Changes Add Up

Blog post provided by BetterU Challenger JAIME BUTLER!

This is our first week of being a part of the American Heart Association Better U Makeover Challenge and it has started with a bang.  The kickoff event on July 27th was such an uplifting experience that energized all of the 2018 participants to get up and go!  A huge thanks to our sponsors: Gold’s Gym, Central Hudson, Q92 & HealthQuest Medical Practice for making all this possible for us.  Then the weekend started and I started to try and absorb all the information that I had been given and make sense of how I was going to fit in all of the to-do’s with my already very lengthy to-do list from being a full-time working Wife/Mom of two young boys.  I’m not going to lie, I started to feel some anxiety creep up on Sunday morning about how I was going to make all this work.  And then, I went to Gold’s for my first solo workout and while I was using one of their newer elliptical type machines (sorry Phil, I can’t for the life of me remember what you called it but I know “lateral” was in there somewhere!) I started to think about various way I could move and bend my schedule to get this in, or make that, or keep track of this and make sense of that.  And there it was, right there in front of me.  I have already been doing things and moving in the right direction.  Although it seemed sort of overwhelming, I had made small changes here and there to get me towards my goal of being overall healthier.  The right food choice here, the additional movement there, the choosing water over a diet soda, the serving size of something instead of going wild.  I didn’t even know I was doing it at the time, but it was all happening and it was all for better health.  All those small changes are more points in the positive column of effects on my health and those around me.  So, yes, it may have seemed daunting at first, but if I just give myself a little time and a little breathing room I will find that I’ll take stock of those positive changes and realize I’ve already accomplished more than I thought I could so I just need to keep on goin’!


By |July 31st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Kickoff Complete!

BetterU Blog Post #1 – from Sheryl DeStafeno-Bowe

Sheryl on Day 1 of the 2018 BetterU Challenge

Kickoff complete!

It was so great meeting our team and hearing each others’ stories. This is really a great opportunity! The more tools for health, the better!

Have to say that I was feeling really low when we had our workout at the end, because everything was so hard for me. My arthritis knees and feet were really hating my guts. I don’t know if I can do this😫.

By |July 30th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |13 Comments

Women Selected for 9th BetterU Heart Health Challenge

The Dutchess-Ulster American Heart Association announced the 14 women selected for their 9th BetterU Makeover Challenge at a kick-off event at Gold’s Gym in LaGrange Friday. BetterU will assist the women on their journey toward improved heart health through lifestyle changes. The 12-week BetterU program is sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. The program’s goal is to remind all women of the need to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent their number one and five killers – heart disease and stroke.

Each of the 14 women will receive a three-month membership and personal training at Gold’s Gym, a baseline medical evaluation from Health Quest Medical Practice, and nutrition coaching, heart health seminars and group workouts. They will chronicle their progress on the AHA’s Hudson Valley blog at

The program helps women to make their health a priority in their lives. Prevention efforts and lifestyle changes can prevent more than 80% of heart disease in women, according to the AHA. The AHA recommends that all women have a Well Woman annual physical and discussion with their doctors to help identify serious health concerns before they become life threatening – such as heart disease and stroke. Heart disease takes the life of one in three women — almost one woman every minute. It claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

The BetterU 12-week program begins July 27th and concludes at the Go Red for Women Luncheon on November 9, 2018 at the Grandview. Follow their progress online here on this blog: and on social media:

For tickets or info on the Luncheon, visit or call Danielle Schuka at 845-867-5379.  BetterU is sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, Gold’s Gym, Heath Quest Medical Practice and Q92 Radio. Go Red For Women is sponsored national by Macy’s and CVS Health, and locally by The Heart Center | Vassar Brothers Medical, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, and The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel and Conference Center.

Denise Doring VanBuren, of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, BetterU Sponsor

2018 BetterU Participants’ Personal Goals

Jaime Butler, Poughkeepsie – “I am looking to increase my strength, stamina and learn the healthy habits I can use to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle so I can set the example for my children and other family members who struggle with weight issues to avoid heart and other health issues.”

Emily Darrow, Hurley – “I’m hoping to lose weight, get in better shape and, most importantly, learn how to create a healthier lifestyle. With a family history of high blood pressure and heart disease, I know how important this is – now and for the future! “

Anne DeMuro, Poughkeepsie – “ I have spent years on a diet and exercise yo-yo.  My hope is to get my weight to a heart-healthy number and keep it there! I want to gain energy and regain range of motion so that I can age gracefully while maintaining an independent and active life. I want to be healthy in mind, body and spirit! “


Sheryl DeStafeno-Bowe, Hyde Park – “Through the 12-week BetterU program I hope to establish a movement program that I can sustain and enjoy.  I also want healthy eating to be second nature to me, not a diet that begins and ends. These are the goals that will allow me to live spontaneously, and I am very, very grateful for this opportunity!”

Judy DiMattia, Fishkill – “Having had heart disease in my family history, I am hopeful and ready to make a difference.  It is time to Better Me! I am very excited to make lifestyle changes like eating healthier, exercising regularly and managing stress.”

Lisa Mathis, New Windsor – “I want to finally get out of the hamster wheel of dieting and fitness programs.  Always running toward goals that I have been unable to completely reach. I want a consistent, healthy weight, healthy eating habits and fitness routine!”

Candice Pennella, Poughkeepsie – “I hope to learn how to make and maintain healthier lifestyle choices while surrounded by supportive people who understand how hard those choices can be. The time has come to start putting myself first!”

Danielle Perry, Wappingers – “I am tired. I am uncomfortable. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to turn back the clock and take off the pounds that are sticking around so easily now. I want to change my health before poor health becomes my final destination.”

Carmela Spreer, Highland – “My family has a history of heart disease, and I have high blood pressure, so I want to change my lifestyle and learn healthy habits.”

Janna Whearty, Poughkeepsie – “Last September the 47-year old wife of a friend of mine passed away from a heart attack. I hope that through this program I can get fit and establish healthy habits. I have many things I’d like to do that my present fitness level won’t let me. I want to change that.”

Elisa Gwilliam, Poughkeepsie – hopes to increase her cardio fitness, work out consistently, and increase muscle and lose fat as a result of her participation in this program.

Denise Hector, Hyde Park – “Getting back to healthy is my goal as a participant in this program.  In 2017, I firmly decided that I would not be a smoker by my 55th birthday which was July 16th, and I’m proud to say that I smoked my last cigarette on July 7th, 2017. I’m one year being smoke free!  While I believe this was a huge accomplishment for me, the extra weight I gained isn’t as easy to shed as was in the past.  This program comes at the right time!  My mind is made up and I’m ready to begin my journey for living a healthier lifestyle!”

Janine Russo, Gardiner – “I have a family history of heart disease and just got put on Lipitor for high cholesterol.  I hope to come out with the knowledge how to be healthier.  I want to lose weight with healthy eating and exercise.  I want to make a life change.”


American Heart Announces New Westchester Board Members

Dr. Icilma Fergus

Virginia Kuper

The American Heart Association (AHA) announced local leaders serving on its Westchester County Board of Directors. Leading the volunteer board are Board Chairperson, Virginia Kuper, Senior Vice President of Key Bank, and Board President, Icilma V. Fergus, MD, FACC, Associate Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“We are so grateful to have the support of so many exceptional leaders from the local health and business communities. They will help the American Heart Association to achieve our mission of building healthier lives and a healthier community in Westchester County,” said Jennifer Miller, AHA Senior Regional Director in Westchester.

Members of the AHA Westchester Board of Directors at their July gathering.

Kuper and Fergus will serve three-year terms. AHA Westchester County board members include: Dr. Sherlita Amler, Commissioner of Health, Westchester County Government; Daniel Blum, President and CEO of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center; Dr. Carolin Dohl, Associate Director, Stroke Rehabilitation, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital; Dr. Avi Fischer, Divisional Vice President & Medical Director, Abbott; Michael Gewitz, MD, William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital; Joseph Giamelli, MD, Pediatric Cardiologist, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital; Damara Gutnick, MD, Medical Director of Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative; Merin Joseph, WESTMED Exec. Vice Pres. & Chief Information Officer with Practice Partners; Howard Klein, CPA, MS, Partner at Citrin Cooperman; Dr. Sophia McIntyre, Chief Medical Officer Hudson River Healthcare, Inc.; Donna Montalto, Chief of Staff, CareMount Medical; Michael Prutting, Vice President Human Resources, IT & Travel, FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation; Stephanie Weston, Vice President, Retail Market Manager, The Westchester Bank; Dr. Daniel Zedeker, DDS Office, Private Practice; and N. Theodore Zink, Jr., Financial Professional Associate, The Prudential Insurance Company of America.

Board members will lead American Heart Association health initiatives and support development priorities to drive AHA health goals in the Westchester Region. The Westchester Heart Walk is set for Saturday, September 29th at Kensico Dam in Valhalla. To register, visit

The AHA’s impact goal is, by 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent. The Board’s newly formed Community Action Committee will focus their efforts on local health issues like healthy food access, food insecurity, and advocacy priorities in the market. AHA advocated for Tobacco 21 legislation signed into law in Westchester in June, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

For more information about the American Heart Association in your community, visit or email or call Jennifer Miller at or 914-806-0962.

By |July 16th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments