Relearning Routine

This BetterU blog post is from…JAIME!!!

At first, I didn’t know what to write about for this week’s post.  So many things were spinning around my head and I wasn’t really sure where to start, but then after reading something from one of our mentors talking about setbacks it came to me.  Now that we are in week 5 of our Better U challenge I feel like I’m finally getting into my groove with getting to the gym, making meal choices that work for me and getting a bit more comfortable with being honest about what I want or need from those people around me to be successful in this program. 

But….that anxiousness is back.  Why you ask?  Because fall baseball has started and I don’t have the schedule yet but it’s going to involve getting my boys picked up and fed before going to a field we’re not familiar with at a time when we would normally be getting home and trying to make dinner.  Added to that, school is starting next week which means leaving my office early to run home and be there when my oldest gets off the school bus before we head to the day care to pick up his younger brother.  There’s also religious instruction starting the week after school starts for my oldest son.  My youngest, who will turn 3 in January, needs to start potty training because he’s being moved up to the pre-school program and they make more of an issue about kids being trained at that level but he has no interest.

So now, after finally getting into a groove with my eating, my workouts and having those windows of opportunity to make that happen I feel like it’s all coming undone.  Those windows of opportunity feel like they are getting smaller by the day.  It makes me sad and frustrated.  Normally, this is where I would just throw in the towel and stop spending time on trying to do things for myself and just focus on what everyone else needs to get through new scheduling and activities.  Maybe it’s the program, maybe it’s the cheerleaders I have rooting for me or maybe it’s just the stubbornness in me that is saying “how is that at all fair?”

I earned this good thing and I’ve worked so hard to come this far, so what if the schedule is tighter, I will figure it out!  Why?  Because I always figure it out!  It’s why I’m good at my job, it’s why people come to ME for help.  I’m entitled to my panic, but now that I’ve acknowledged it, all I need to do is what I’ve already done.  Find the opportunities when I thought I couldn’t and reteach myself to make a new routine that still gives me the time I need to do what I need to do to feel good about me.  Tough love self-talk isn’t something I usually do, but I felt the need to just put it out there this week and maybe it speaks to someone following the program or someone else in the program.

In other news, I’m very much enjoying trying out new recipes, including those that don’t include any meat at all and it’s completely rewarding to see my family enjoy them.  The fact that my oldest son is trying these new meals with vegetables he may never have eaten willingly before and has raved about them truly makes my heart sing.  I can’t even tell you how I felt when we were talking about making something for dinner and he asked what the serving size of it was to see if it was a good option; how amazing and such wonderful validation that my efforts are noticed!!

By |August 31st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

It’s Not About Perfection, It’s About Progress

Today’s BetterU Blog Post is from CANDICE!

These are words I’ve often told others. Now only if I could listen to my own advice. I’ve always been an over-achiever, a perfectionist. I gravitate to things I’m good at doing. No wonder I’ve avoided taking care of my physical health for so long. I don’t fully understand how it all works and that terrifies me. I always knew deep down that this was a part of my life that I needed to get in order and during a moment of clarity, or insanity, or both, I decided to apply for the BetterU program.

What a whirlwind it has been in the past few weeks. Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I rode high on the enthusiasm and confidence of my peers, started increasing my gym time, made some food changes, and actually started to see the numbers on the scale decreasing. How nice it felt to feel my own confidence start to rise. That confidence has since been tested on multiple occasions. The scale recently took a screeching halt and even went back up a bit. I know people say this is normal, but my shaky confidence had a panic attack. All of these “what if” questions started to take over. What if I don’t lose anymore weight? What if I lose weight but my bloodwork numbers increase? What if I can’t keep up this pace and make this a lifestyle change? What if I FAIL. That dreaded 4-letter F word. I thought I had moved past that minor setback until I had a mini-meltdown this past weekend. I had all of my meals planned out perfectly and wouldn’t you know it, plans changed. Dinner wasn’t going to be as  anticipated and I had to find an alternative with little in the house and a growling stomach that was getting angrier with me by the second. Again I thought “I am FAILing at this.”

The truth of the matter is that I’ve already WON. Changes have been made and I’ve learned so much new information to help me along my journey. I’ve since looked back on the seminar given by Dr. Somjee and remind myself how strongly she emphasized making small, sustainable changes. I’ve also stolen (“borrowed”) a peer’s mantra: My race, my pace. How fitting this saying is since I’ve recently started taking the RPM (cycling) class at Gold’s Gym. The instructor, Jasmine, has been so supportive. She even took time to share with me how much progress I’ve made in the class in only 3 weeks. And just like that my confidence started to gain momentum again. It really doesn’t matter how athletic and fast everyone else in the class seems to be. My race, my pace.

Can I do this? I already am.

A big shoutout to all of the ladies in the program supporting me along the way, the American Heart Association staff, the Gold’s Gym staff, my family/friends, and all of the other sponsors of this amazing program: Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, Health Quest Medical Practice, Q92 FM Radio. #HVBetterU #GoRedHV

American Heart Association Calls for Tobacco 21 Law in Putnam

The American Heart Association is asking Putnam County legislators to take up Tobacco 21 legislation to help save lives and money in Putnam. The Association advocated for similar legislation in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties—all have passed laws to increase the purchase age of tobacco products to 21 from 18.

“Passing Tobacco 21 in Putnam County will help prevent young adults from ever picking up their first cigarette. It takes tobacco products out of the hands of teenagers at an age when they are most likely to be influenced by peer pressure. Tobacco 21 is how we can help create future smoke-free generations,” said Caitlin O’Brien, American Heart Association Government Relations Director.

“With youth use rates of electronic cigarettes, including JUUL’s doubling in two years, our residents need this legislation. An alarming 20% of high school students have tried an e-cigarette, and due to the lack of a social stigma, high schoolers, and even middle schoolers are becoming addicted,” she said.

The Association says the same, if not more nicotine is contained in e-cigarettes than a pack of cigarettes. Nicotine is an addictive substance.

“We are asking the Putnam County Legislature to please support this common-sense and fiscally responsible measure,” said O’Brien, “When there are lower rates of tobacco use, there are lower healthcare costs. Because of the numerous diseases and disabilities associated with smoking, New Yorkers pay $10.4 billion dollars in health care cost. Not mention, state and local Medicaid covers $3.3 billion.”

“E-cigarette liquid is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and comes in candy flavors like Swedish Fish and Blue Raspberry. It is targeted toward children and teens to get them addicted,” she said.

A 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine states that raising the tobacco sale age will reduce the smoking rate by 12%. The AHA says that 96% of smokers begin before age 21, and if a young person reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to two percent.

Support for Tobacco 21 is widespread, with 72% of New Yorkers (69% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats) in favor raising the legal sales age of tobacco products, as found in a state-wide survey done by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Other health groups like the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association support Tobacco 21 laws to help prevent smoking and tobacco-related illnesses.

The American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure grassroots advocacy network fights for better health for our community. For more information, visit www.yourethecure.org.

By |August 30th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Reflections on BetterU

So many times when I take photos, I find I’m searching out reflections. One third of our way through the BetterU challenge, I’m stopping for a minute to reflect.

I find it hard to believe that after tearing my meniscus in early June that I could barely walk up stairs, but that was the case. That fall and injury caused me to make a reassessment of my life, my body and my future – and with my doctor’s permission, I applied to BetterU. I didn’t think I’d be accepted. My application was last minute. There were too many others who had more pressing issues. But I hit send with a prayer as somehow I knew that this initiative by the American Heart Association was really what I needed to learn how to create sustainable change for my future.

When I received the call from Allison saying I was accepted, I almost cried. I think I did when I hung up. It’s not that I couldn’t diet on my own, or go a gym on my own, but how many of us say the same thing, create time for a few weeks, then fall back on the same patterns as before. This program is a challenge for each of us to the very depths of our being. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about rethinking how and what we do to find healthier patterns for living.

The magic of BetterU is having this amazing group of women surrounding you. I’ve never been in a sorority, but I imagine this is what it’s like. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, reaching out to post your feelings in our private group brings an overwhelming influx of support and encouragement from current BetterU teammates as well as the alumnae of the program. If you feel like you’re not going to make it through a class, someone’s usually there to give you a hug and say, “you  can do this.” Together we’re becoming a better version or possibly a truer version of who we are.

Along the way, each of us is learning that making this time for us isn’t frivolous, selfish, or a luxury. It’s a necessity. If we don’t do it ourselves, no one else will do it for us. I know I’ve heard that for years, but in reality, I’ve put myself last for so long, it’s been a game changer to realize that this is okay.

This first third of the program has been amazing. I’m already feeling the change in my body. From higher energy levels, to weight loss (yay), to lower blood pressure readings, the effects are real. This weekend, I took a workmate’s advice and visited a consignment shop as I actually need new clothes, but as I’m still reshaping my body,  I don’t want invest a lot. I saw a beautiful Ralph Lauren red linen blazer in a 14W. I thought, wow, maybe I can fit in that (my blazer size was usually an 18w for the past few years). In the dressing room after I removed my sling (more on that) and carefully slid my arm in, I thought, wow this is roomy. Once I was enveloped in it. And I do mean enveloped. I thought, this is way too big. I had to go out of the dressing room and ask someone else to confirm this, as I didn’t believe it. In truth it was way too big.

As to the sling, two weeks ago I had a stupid accident, tripping over my dog in the dark and doing a pratfall worthy of a comic scene. As I sat on the floor in the lotus position, taking stock of first my legs (yes, both knees okay), back (fine), left arm (okay), right arm – oh – I can’t move it. Diagnosis? Broken shoulder and in a sling for at least a month. When I heard that, I was shocked, but immediately asked, “I can still exercise right? I’m in this great program and don’t want to stop…” The doctor smiled and said, “Absolutely. Just don’t move that arm, work your legs, and no treadmill!”

 

Since then I’ve taken most all the classes I was taking before with the amazing instructors at Gold’s Gym helping me modify the movements so my right shoulder remains immobile. Barre with Priscilla? Amazing. Yin Yoga with Dawn? So wonderful I never want it to end. Zumba, yes, Zumba with Michelle totally fun and finally getting the footwork as I don’t move my arms and also don’t try any jarring motions. I really have to give a huge shoutout to my personal trainer Sean, who worked with me the evening after my doctor’s visit. He then spent his off time researching how to best keep strengthening me with only the one arm, and after last night’s team training, my left arm feels super strong!

My teammates say they’re impressed that I keep going, but I’m overwhelmed by knowing that one of my teammates has such bad hip pain that in or

der to face each day she has to take one of the medications I use to allow me to sleep without pain. Her courage facing each day with that kind of pain and doing this program is what inspires me and puts this temporary pain in perspective.

To me, BetterU isn’t just a challenge to become thinner (though I’ll definitely take that), but it’s about becoming healthier, more resilient, more aware and empathetic. I told Dawn that I think if I hadn’t been so relaxed and at peace after my Yin Yoga session that my fall that evening would have been far more traumatic. For the first time in years, I feel that I’m finally finding control of my life and that is priceless. Thank you BetterU, Central Hudson and the amazing Denise VanBuren, Gold’s Gym and HealthQuest for ensuring that so many of us have the opportunity to become better and healthier versions of ourselves!

By |August 30th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |3 Comments

Hitting a Plateau

A BetterU Blog Post from…CARMELLA!

Photo by Evangeline Gala (www.evangelinegala.com)

I’d like to start off with a little history about myself.  I have high blood pressure that is controlled by 3 medicines.  My family has a history of stroke, diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease.  My mom and her mom passed at 54 and 56 respectively.  My dad was gone at 78.  I saw myself gaining weight over the past year and I didn’t know how to stop it, but I knew I was in trouble.  I decided to apply for this program and start dieting in case I was accepted and that was a blessing.  I am so grateful to have been accepted.  Thank you.

As I stated above, I started dieting about three weeks prior to joining.  I didn’t remove food from my diet, but cut portions dramatically.   After being in the program for 4 weeks now, I took out some clothes that I had stored away and THEY FIT!!!  The challenge I have now is that I have finally hit a plateau with my weight.  I understand that weight loss is not the only component of this program, but it was extremely motivating when I saw the pounds shedding off.   I see a difference in some area of my body such as my neck, upper back and waist since taking the body scan.  I never felt so disgusted with myself after seeing that scan.  I cried the whole way home from the gym that night just asking myself, “How could you do this to yourself?”  I realized at that point, I was in charge.

A major concern is belly fat.  I reassure myself that if I eat the right foods and exercise, I will lose the belly fat.  I am reading up more on how metabolism & stress are factors that attribute to this and hopefully the information I continue to gather will help.  I started this program at 176 pounds according to my scale at home.  That same scale now says 160 and hasn’t moved in over a week.  So this plateau has brought some depression and lack of motivation to get to the gym. It’s been hard to push past this over the last week or so.   I have been going to Golds an average of 2 – 3 times a week and on the days I am not there, I am at my home gym at the apartment complex.  Every day I do 1 – 2 miles on the treadmill.

My routine has been to work out and check the scale.  Not anymore, as I have decided to put the scale away for a month and focus on physical activity and good eating.  Hopefully after the month, I will still see improvements and the scale will be nicer to me.  I need to stop getting depressed and just focus on the end results.  I will make myself and my family healthier. I have been making better choices as far as food, cooking more at home and eating out less.  Our favorite restaurant now knows I am in this program and actually prepares special dishes for me.  The support of everyone is overwhelming.

 

By |August 29th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

BetterU is a Chance to Focus on Yourself

Today’s BetterU blog post is from JANNA!

It’s hard to believe we are already 4 weeks in to BetterU! I had a tough time adjusting when the program started, but I think I’m getting into a routine. It’s starting to feel like normal instead of something that I just have to get through.

I am in the worst shape of my life. I’ve never been thin, and I long ago accepted that about myself. I’ve always been healthy and fairly active, though. When I got into the gym at the start of BetterU I was really beating myself up…how had I let it get this bad? How come I couldn’t do the things I used to? I had to keep reminding myself of the string of injuries and health challenges that have been the last ten years of my life. Never mind the fear of trying and failing. Part of BetterU is focusing on yourself, and I had to get to a place where I was OK with where I’m at right now so that instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I could focus on what I could do to improve on what I was able to do.

I have watched so many friends benefit from this program, and had actually thought of applying last year, but wound up having to have surgery instead. Then last September my friend Greg lost his wife to a heart attack. She was just a few years older than me, but physically there were a lot of similarities between the two of us. It scared me, and so I started taking walks more frequently and trying (not usually too successfully) to eat better. I lost a bit of weight but not even close to enough to make the kind of difference I needed. For me, I think this timing is perfect.

If I had to pick a favorite part of the program so far, I think I would say it’s a three way tie. The staff at Gold’s Gym is amazing! Everyone is helpful and supportive. I’ve also been watching, and it’s not just BetterU participants they treat that way. I have belonged to a few gyms over the years, and I think this one is really the first one I feel comfortable in. The seminars the American Heart Association have been informative and helpful.  This week we even learned CPR. And finally, I am so lucky to be going through this with 13 other wonderful ladies. They keep me going and make such great suggestions on how to get the most of the program.

I can’t wait to see what the next 8 weeks bring!

By |August 28th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Better Me!

Today’s BetterU blog is from Janine!

When I started this I was super nervous. I knew I needed to do something. My weight had sky rocketed. I was heavier than I ever been and honestly thought why can I not get control of this. I kept thinking my cholesterol is high. My thyroid dr told me it’s the one that clogs the arteries. You need to go on meds. I gave her a hard time at first but then kept seeing images of my dad after his triple bypass. Then Denise Hector called me and said let’s do this. We have been friends for 25 years and both battling the weight.

So here I am. I’m determined to change my bad habits. It’s hard but I’m going to do it. I look forward to taking time for me. Knowing I can take the time and still be able to do what needs to be done at home.

Hearing 1-3 woman die of heart disease was a huge eye opener. I want to be a voice for this even after I complete this. This is such a great opportunity and a great program. The friendships I am making with the other members will be life long. Everyone is so supportive. My co-workers. My family. My BetterU family. The gym trainers and the American Heart Association.

Out of all of this, I want to learn to eat well but know it’s ok if I fall off. Learn that slipping with maybe a cookie is not the end of the world nor is it a reason to keep eating bad. I want to learn how to control my bad habits. I want to continue the gym even after. I am completely enjoying it. It makes me feel so good. I want to teach my kids to be more mindful of things they eat and teach them from now how to stay away from the heart disease path.

I feel good. I haven’t been able to say that in a long time. BetterU is making a BetterMe and I have to say it was the best decision I’ve made.

#HVBetterU

By |August 25th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , |4 Comments

Pack Health into Back-to-School Lunches

 It’s back-to-school time! The American Heart Association offers some budget-friendly, creative ideas for back-to-school season to help keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime.

Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. Nutrition can go a long way toward preventing these illnesses in children. According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded with the American Heart Association, American kids consume 35-50 percent of their daily calories while in school. Healthy lunches can have a big im

pact on children’s health.

Packing the kids’ lunches for school means you have control over which foods they are eating. Parents can manage nutritious meals, limiting on sugar, fat and sodium, even when the kids are at school.

Make a Smarter Sandwich

While some kids prefer the same thing every day, others want variety in their lunches. Sandwiches are easy, portable, kid-friendly, and easy to change up throughout the week.

  • Use different breads like 100% whole-wheat bread, tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in sat
    urated fat and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100% whole-wheat pita pockets.
  • In addition to lettuce and tomato, try shredded carrot or zucchini and sliced cucumbers, peppers, or thin-sliced apple or pear with a turkey sandwich.
  • Choose lower-sodium lunch meats and cheeses.
  • Try avocado or hummus as a swap for cheese or mayo, or use them in a chicken salad instead of mayo.
  • Try leftover grilled chicken in your sandwich as a healthy swap for lunch meat.

Love Those Leftovers

Think about using the leftovers from a family favorite dinner for a next day lunch. Use a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until the lunch bell rings. The prepared or packaged versions of these foods sometimes have a lot of sodium, so make them homemade with little or no salt, or compare nutrition facts of similar products and choose the ones with less sodium.

  • Soup – tomato, vegetable or bean
  • Chili (vegetarian or made with lean or extra lean ground chicken)
  • Spaghetti or curly pasta salad (whole wheat with veggies and chicken added)
  • Bean casserole or beans & rice with vegetables.

Let Them Dunk

Try packing one of these fun but healthy foods with healthy dips alongside:

  • Apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt or peanut butter. Sprinkle cut fruit slices with lemon water to slow browning.
  • Crunchy carrot, celery and sweet red pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.
  • Whole-grain, low-sodium, low-fat crackers or whole grain pita triangles to dunk into soup.

Avoid packing sugary drinks like “power” drinks, soda or sugar-added juices to your kids’ lunchboxes, or home meals. Water or school purchased milk are great options to reduce sugar in the diet. Children ages 2 to 18 should eat or drink less than six teaspoons of added sugars daily, according to the American Heart Association. Six teaspoons of added sugars is equivalent to about 100 calories or 25 grams. One can of soda has about ten teaspoons of sugar.

Get Kids Involved

When kids help pack their lunches, they’re more likely to eat that lunch! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together. Learn more at www.heart.org/healthykids, and get free recipes at www.heart.org/recipes.

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is “Children’s Health Sponsor” of the Westchester Heart Walk, Saturday, September 29th at Kensico Dam. Registration is open at www.WestchesterHeartWalk.org. #HeartWalk914

What a Difference Three Weeks Makes!

Today’s BetterU Blog post is from Danielle Perry!

What a difference 3 weeks can make… After having “The Scan” I’ve been eating better and making MUCH healthier choices. Multiple times over the past 3 weeks I have been at Gold’s gym at 5:30am taking classes. (Who am I??) I even made zucchini tots!! I don’t cook. I have never cooked a zucchini. I have definitely never shredded a zucchini.

Body Scan

After our nutrition class I bought the Cabot cheese that Roufia mentioned and shredded it by hand. (Turns out there is wood pulp and fillers in shredded cheese to make it not stick together and not get moldy… so shred your own.) And I actually read the ingredients on the bread crumbs and had to put back two different versions before I found one that didn’t have a ton of additives in it. All of these things are first for me. After eating the awesome zucchini tots I ordered one of those things that shreds veggies into noodles and I am surprisingly excited to use it!!

I did have a slip up on Saturday at a birthday party. I ate an entire gram cracker batter waffle with deep fried mascarpone stuffed strawberries and whip crème. I am not going to lie.. It was glorious! HOWEVER, since I have had minimal sugar and not a ton of carbs in the past 3 weeks my body immediately hated me and it made me deathly ill.  As good as it may have tasted, it was definitely not worth it.

I have a bag of clothes ready to donate that I had resigned to never be able to wear again, well before finally dropping them off I tried a favorite pair on that I previously could barely get over my hips and there was NO way they would zip… I was able to WEAR THEM Sunday!! And I owe it all to BetterU and AHA and the amazing training I am getting at Gold’s Gym. #GoRedHV #HVBetterU

 

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!

-Denise

By |August 15th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |2 Comments