The American Heart Association announced the new chair for the 16th Annual Westchester Go Red For Women Luncheon set for Friday, May 31st at the Hilton Westchester. Judy Melillo, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for FUJIFILM Holdings America Corporation, will lead the Go Red campaign efforts to help raise awareness and funds to fight the number one killer of women: heart disease.
Judy Melillo will lead fundraising and community outreach for the Go Red For Women Luncheon and year-round campaign, including National Wear Red Day on Friday, February 1st. The Go Red Luncheon event includes a health and wellness exposition, local health experts, and a PURSEonality auction featuring stylish handbags, wallets and more. Event information is online at http://westchestergored.heart.org.
The American Heart Association states that more than 80% of coronary events in women may be prevented with simple lifestyle changes, but prevention is hindered by the fact that many women do not realize that heart disease is the number one killer of women—more than all cancers combined. For 15 years, the Go Red For Women movement has worked to close this knowledge gap and provide women with tools, resources and inspiration to build a healthier life. Women can access free resources at www.goredforwomen.org.
Judy Melillo joined Valhalla-based Fujifilm in 2005 and has served as General Counsel since 2013. Judy has been instrumental in building a corporate governance structure that can address the challenges of a dynamic and expanding global corporation. Her teams generally manage the legal, compliance and environmental, health and safety affairs of the corporation and its 21 North American and Latin American subsidiaries.
She earned her B.A. in political science from Boston College, and graduated as valedictorian of her class from Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. Prior to joining Fujifilm, she was an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York City. Judy, her husband Mike and their two sons are longtime residents of Westchester County.
“For this campaign, my goal is to help women learn the importance of taking care of ourselves,” said Judy. “In 2017, an article in WorldBank.org written by Patricio V Marquez and co-authored by Melanie Walker was titled Healthy Women are the cornerstone of healthy societies. And it’s true. The only way we, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends and co-workers, can continue to take care of others is by prioritizing our own health and wellbeing. Our lives depend upon it, and our families, friends and co-workers depend upon us.”
Judy Melillo will lead the Go Red For Women Executive Leadership Committee whose members include Maureen Adams, Director Clinical Operations, Internal Medicine, WESTMED Medical Group; Kaitlin Triano, Director Commercialization, New Payment Flows, Mastercard; Grace Ferri, VP of Marketing & Development, United Hebrew; Terri Ferri, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management; and Dawn French, VP of Marketing & Development, White Plains Hospital.
Go Red For Women is sponsored nationally by CVS Health. Greenwich Hospital is the Signature Sponsor. Check. Change. Control. Local sponsor is White Plains Hospital and media sponsors include 100.7 WHUD, Examiner News and Westchester Magazine.
A BetterU Blog from EMILY!!!
This is the most difficult of the four blog posts I was assigned to write to document my #HVBetterU journey. Why? Because it’s the final one.
In eight days, our BetterU team will have our “graduation celebration” at the Hudson Valley Go Red for Women luncheon at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie. We’re all looking forward to it and have shopped for our red dresses. But I know I’m not the only one who’s feeling very sad that this amazing program is concluding. But when I feel like that I remind myself that only the formal program is winding down. Many of have already signed up to become independent members of Gold’s Gym and will continue our fitness regime into the future.
Carolyn asked all of us to list the single most important thing that we achieved during this time and I honestly can’t come up with just one thing. There have been so many!
While this program is not really just about losing weight, I have to say my body’s transformation can be viewed in the selection of BetterU tees. From a 2X to an XL to a L (that is now becoming wonderfully loose), My body is becoming my own again and it feels wonderful. I’m so happy that the dress I’ll be wearing at the luncheon is five sizes smaller than one that I wore when I began the program!
I can shout out “No Surgery Necessary!” as the radial tear of the meniscus that was the final straw of my body’s downward slide and was what inspired me to finally apply for BetterU…it is now 90% healed.
I never dreamed that a misfortune could lead to such a true life changing endeavor. But it did. I still remember sitting at the computer and praying before I began to answer the questions on the application. Somehow I knew this could be a turning point in my life, but had no idea how important it would be.
And it is important. Meeting the program alumna and speaking about their experiences, I realized that my sistas were not alone in the feeling of such positive transformation. And it’s the alumna who’ve been cheering us on. Sharing their stories. Sharing recipes and the realities of how to incorporate this change into a forever lifestyle. Our Facebook group is one that I find inspiring and humbling on a daily basis.
I remember saying to Sean Murphy, the great Gold’s Gym team trainer in Fishkill, that I needed to strengthen my left arm when it seemed so much weaker than my right the first time we hit the machines. I should watch what I say as the next week I tripped over my dog and broke my right shoulder. Now when we do weight training, my left arm is as strong as my right! That’s thanks to Sean, because throughout the entire time my arm was in a sling, he continued to train me, modifying the exercises and movements when necessary. He also researched and found evidence that by doing weight training with my left arm, there was some phantom limb (beneficial) effect for my right arm. I think he’s right as my orthopedist is amazed at the speed of my recovery and range of motion. Again, thanks to #HVBetterU and Gold’s Gym.
Discovering I have spinal stenosis and now the knowledge yesterday that there is not one pinched nerve, but three, I have to admit to being depressed last night. But thanks to an amazing doctor, I was able to balance that with the knowledge that the training I’m doing through this great program is actually what he would order to help repair my spine. As he said, he’s so happy I’m not someone who is just lying in bed not moving because of the pain, but moving. Training. Stretching. I can’t imagine not being active and that’s a return to the old me. The one I’m familiar with.
A gift BetterU gave me that is probably beyond any other was the realization that the relationship I had been in for the past 16 years probably was the cause of many of my problems. When Dr. Somjee spoke about different causes of high blood pressure, weight gain, etc. – all things that effect your heart health – one of the triggers she mentioned was being in difficult relationships/marriages. Why? Because this stress raises your cortisol levels, which in turn will have a devastating long-term effect on your body. A lightbulb went off at that point as I had been in what could politely be described as a difficult situation – more accurately an emotionally abusive one – for 16 years (even with a separation), up until this April 2018. My weight in 2001? Probably around 135-140. When I started BetterU, 240. That’s 100 pounds of unhappiness over 16 years.
But it wasn’t just that. I had truly gone inward in a protective sense. My weight became almost a protective armor. Each week, because of my BetterU sistas, the armor started to fall off, just as the pounds did. I became more like the Emily I remembered, when I had been nicknamed Julie the Cruise Director year’s ago. At work, I could feel a confidence and assurance returning. I hadn’t realized they’d been lost, but they had. And finally I felt open to other people in a way I had forgotten to be. I had become so accustomed to hiding, being silent, that I’d forgotten how wonderful it was to just engage with others.
So to my BetterU sistas. Thank you. This journey would not have been possible without you. If I felt like it could be too much of a struggle at times, I just looked at all your posts and said, I’m not a quitter. I can do this. Even when I lay on the mat at Gold’s practically crying as my back was in spasms, I knew that being there was the best thing. And thanks to Janine, I didn’t stay on my back too long, but got up and started peddling on the recumbent bike, ironically the activity that helped me the most to release the nerve pressure.
I’m so grateful that both I and all my sistas have been given this amazing opportunity to reclaim ourselves. It’s truly one of the most amazing gifts ever. The American Heart Association and the sponsors, including Central Hudson, Gold’s Gym, Health Quest and others have made this transformational program possible for the past nine year. Throughout the Hudson Valley there are women who are BetterU alums. Each of these women have learned the benefits of nutrition, spiritual and mental as well as physical health, and are determined to spread the word. That’s really important when you consider that Heart Disease and Stroke are the number 1 killer of women. While I go pink in October, I also go red, as my family has battled both diseases.
I’ve done this program with the knowledge of friends who’ve survived crippling strokes in their early 30’s, heart attacks in their 40’s and my dad’s nephew (the marathon runner) who had a debilitating stroke more than 10 years ago and is still recovering. In fact I’m doing it for them in a way as they’ve spoken to me about their health and how important it is to be in the best possible shape, paired with the diagnosis of other silent triggers like high blood pressure.
On November 9th, we’ll be celebrating the completion of what is to me the most amazing 15 weeks ever. But that’s not the end. It’s just the beginning for our new life as BetterMe’s. Thank you for your support of the AHA, which makes this program possible.
Today’s BetterU Blog is from JAIME!!!
When I received the call from the American Heart Association saying I was accepted into the Better U program 13 weeks ago, I had no idea what this experience would truly mean or how it would affect my entire life the way that it has. For me, this experience has not only highlighted how important it is to my physical health that I make time for working out and being mindful of the foods I’m eating, but how important it is to my mental and emotional health. I am truly not the same person I was at the beginning of this challenge. I sleep better. I speak up when I feel I’m being unfairly treated or taken advantage of. I don’t feel bad or guilty about not spending every spare moment with my husband or children if I want to do something different. I refuse to settle and if I don’t like something, I research ways to do it differently that works for me. I tell people when I need something.
The physical changes that have happened to my body with the help and encouragement of the team at Gold’s Gym, the other ladies in this program and my competitive nature have truly amazed me. Everyone knows that eating healthy and putting in the gym time will have positive effects, but when you get a report saying that you have reduced your body by 14.4”, it blows your mind. I was truly speechless when I saw my progress. I can keep up with my kids and outlast them if need be. I started out leaving team training workouts feeling like I had been hit by a truck and then the next two days thinking I wouldn’t be able to move various parts of my body. Now, I recover so much faster and the pain or soreness I feel encourages me to keep pushing myself. If I can achieve these results thus far, what ELSE can I do? It’s my new challenge to just see how far I can go.
I can honestly say this program and being with these other outstanding women who you think you know has helped me get such a greater respect for what this program really does for people, what astonishing creatures women really are and how it totally alters your life. What you take away is such a greater understanding of what you really need in your life and what you don’t and the confidence to go after those things you need.
There is more work to be done in various areas of my journey, but I know now I’m ready and able to handle whatever comes next and I owe it to myself to take on these challenges so I keep growing into my Better Me.
Thank you to the American Heart Association for selecting me, to Gold’s Gym and DQ for showing me the way and Central Hudson Gas & Electric for your continued sponsorship of this life altering experience for women in our community. To my Better U sisters, I am so grateful that we have all met and I am so glad that we’ve already talked about keeping our sisterhood going as I know we’ll continue to do great things in the future.
Much love always,
Today’s BetterU blog is from…Emily!!
As we enter our 12th week of #HVBetterU, I’m taking stock of where I started and where I am now. On Monday, July 23rd, a few days before our BetterU class began, I made the decision to keep a food diary and be mindful of what I eat. At that time, my scale read 240 pounds. Today, 12 weeks later the numbers are 213 and I’m not stopping. But that’s just the most easy measurement to note.
This doesn’t begin to measure the feeling of camaraderie that we BetterU sisters share. Not just my 13 amazing colleagues, but all the alums of the program who share their knowledge and support with us. I’ve been at many events the past three months and practically every time I meet another BetterU sister alum who shares her journey.
Their stories of how the program made a difference to them, how they find it integrated into their life even now (sometimes 9 years later) resonates with me. This isn’t a program with an end date – although even now each of us is counting down to November 9th. HVBetterU is a life changer.
When I entered HVBetterU one of my immediate goals was to lose weight and become heart healthy, but another goal was to strengthen my right leg so knee surgery would not be necessary. A week ago, when I saw the doctor he said my knee was now about 90% and surgery would not be necessary. I’d stopped wearing the knee bands about 6 weeks ago – just before I fell and broke my shoulder.
Yes, I’ve also had to persevere through injuries. First the radial tear of the meniscus that led me to BetterU, then the broken shoulder, then, thanks to my enthusiastic joy of riding a stationary bike for less than 6 minutes in team training, a pinched sciatic nerve. I never thought I’d be grateful for that broken shoulder, but it prevented me from taking RPM, which was on my to do list. Unfortunately I’ve discovered that I have spinal stenosis of my three lumbar discs, but that’s okay. I know now. And my doctor is amazing as we spoke about how continuing to strengthen the core will help support and strengthen that area. He recommended the rowing machine, which as he said engages 88% of your body. I’m on it!
Yes, everyone from the American Heart Association, to the trainers and instructors at Gold’s Gym, and most of all my BetterU sisters have been great about working with me as I worked through each of these injuries. Routines were modified. I felt supported in my decision to ‘soldier on” as my grandmother would say. And I’m really happy I did.
I feel healthier. I feel more confident. And I can honestly say I feel happy and secure in myself for the first time in about 16 years. There were many life changes this year and one major one really gave me the freedom to enter this program full out. And that’s something I think is really important. This program is truly a gift to each of us. As we’ve said, we’re each of us winners for being in it. But it demands a 100% commitment. Looking around the room, I know my sisters have incredibly demanding jobs. Busy, busy lives. But each of us has made the room for the lifestyle changes that the program demands.
I want to say thank you to the American Heart Association and the women who’ve provided support through this journey – Danielle, Carolyn, Allison and Ann. To Central Hudson and Denise Doring VanBuren who have supported this program since it’s inception and made it possible. To everyone at Gold’s Gym who’ve taught us gym neophytes that the gym is actually a great place to be – and we love it. To Dr. Page at HealthQuest who not only provides our pre and post physicals, but also gives great advice. And to all my friends and colleagues who have cheered me on and supported me through this time. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible.
Right now, I’m not just a person who’s lost 27 pounds and 17 inches, but someone who’s found her inner core. Thank you #HVBetterU and I’ll be treasuring each of the remaining weeks until we celebrate our graduation together!
Wilton, Connecticut resident, Selina Santos, 42, completed the Chicago Marathon Saturday, her heart beating strong with every stride in the 26.2-mile race. Finishing a marathon is no small feat for any runner, but for Santos, a heart disease survivor, crossing that finish line meant so much more.
Santos served as a 2016 Faces of Heart Ambassador at the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Luncheon, sharing her story to raise awareness for women’s number killer—heart disease. She encouraged women to take charge of their health, know the warning signs of heart disease and get help if symptoms are present.
“Congratulations to Selina for her incredible achievement. She is truly an inspiration,” said Carolyn Torella, American Heart Association spokesperson, “She showed that not only can you survive heart disease, you can thrive.”
The Chicago native said she experienced heart symptoms when she exerted herself, even as far back as her teens and 20’s. Her symptoms included palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain and headache.
“I was always told the same thing. You’re too young. You’re a woman. It’s stress. So, I ignored the symptoms until 2010. I was sitting at work and I couldn’t stand it anymore, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I excused myself and went to the urgent care. I was finally referred to a cardiologist,” she said.
After extensive testing, her doctor finally pinpointed the problem–heart valve insufficiency and tiny holes her heart. Her heart valve was leaking, compromising her heart’s ability to circulate blood properly. Her choices were surgery or lifestyle changes. She chose spin classes over scalpels, first with just one class per week, then daily classes. She eventually became a spin instructor at JoyRide Cycling and Fitness in Wilton, and recently began the long haul of training for the marathon. Doctors said she couldn’t run the marathon because of the stress on her heart. That made her fight harder.
Her training regimen started at 5:30 AM on some days with spin class, then cross training and running with recovery days interspersed. She tried to keep her heart rate down to reduce stress on her heart. In the past four months, she has finished four 5K’s, two 10K’s, four half marathons and one full marathon.
“Being able to run Chicago after believing I couldn’t, gives me new purpose, not just for me but for those who have heart disease and for everyone who has be told they can’t,” said Santos.
“From that first diagnosis I made it a point to put my health first – I had a family to be strong for – a life worth living. And it took years for me to get to this point so once I got that clearance from my cardiologist I took it. It felt like a second chance and an opportunity to show others living with heart disease to make that lifestyle change.”
With her finish at the 2018 Chicago Marathon, she hopes to inspire others to strive for more, saying, “It’s possible to conquer a new goal at any stage of life, no matter the setback.”
Despite hamstring cramps and her heart monitor failing at mile 19, she and her strong, healthy, beating heart ran across the finish line, victorious, with an official time of 5 hours 11 minutes. Though overjoyed to finish to Marathon she reflected on her run time, and admitted, her time could’ve been a bit better.
That’s the heart of a true marathon runner.
For more information about women and heart disease, and healthier lifestyles, visit www.GoRedForWomen.org.
Marathon photos by Sybil Santos-Burgan.
Go Red For Women photos by American Heart Association.
Today’s BetterU blog is from….Janna!
And, suddenly it’s Week 10….I have no idea how it went so quickly!
When I started the program, I worked with a great trainer who told me that when I found the exercise I loved. It wouldn’t be hard to keep up a fitness routine. I’ve been on the lookout for the activity I loved for the last ten weeks. I have tried nearly everything that Gold’s Gym offers and I have found some things I really like and some that I love.
I took dance class for 12 years growing up and I immediately felt at home in Barre Fusion. What a great workout, and the best part is I’m having such a good time I don’t even notice. I’ve also tried Sh’Bam, which is a hip hop style class, and Zumba. I like them both as well. Some of my favorites have been the Team Training Classes. They are boot camp style classes that usually have about 5 or 6 people in them. You get to know the trainers pretty well, and also the other people taking the classes. I’ve met a lot of great people (including a few past BetterU participants) and it definitely makes the hour go faster! Years ago, I went through a Tae Bo phase and got in pretty great shape. I’d been wanting to try boxing but hadn’t had the chance. I was dragging a bit when I arrived at my training session Monday night…but then Mike, my trainer, suggested we try boxing. I loved it! It was an incredible work out and I felt so amazing when it was over. I came home and started shopping for purple boxing gloves online. Tomorrow, I am going to get to cross two other things off my list – kayaking and clay shooting.
Today I had the opportunity to speak to the associates at Macy’s in Poughkeepsie and tell them about why I decided to apply for the BetterU program. I shared how great the program has been for me. Macy’s is a National Sponsor of Go Red For Women. Macy’s Thanks for Sharing takes place across the country from NOW to December 31 and a portion of the proceeds raised directly benefits the Go Red For Women campaign. If you are shopping in Macy’s, please consider participating. Every little bit helps to make sure this amazing program can continue to help others.
Today’s BetterU Blog is from…Sheryl!!
Exercise still remains difficult for me. My “hiker’s hip” is still yelling at me when I climb steps, walk down from curbs, etc. so it has really been keeping me away from the gym (although I know modifications can be made to my workout.) I have started walking more and for now I am seeing that as a “win,” since I come from a very sedentary breed. I love the crisp autumn air. Now that I’ve passed the 50 lb. mark (started April 1st) I am noticing that I don’t get winded nearly as easily, and that feels WONDERFUL! This, combined with my healthy eating, has my chest puffed out just a little bit, I must admit!
I continue to be inspired by the tales of my teammates, and I truly hope we keep our vibe going when BetterU comes to a close.
A BetterU Blog Post from…CARMELLA!
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.
BetterU Participant Judy Shares Her Week One Recap!
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!