BetterU: Heading in the Right Direction

Today’s BetterU Blog is from…Sheryl!!

Well, as my screen print shows, my weight is headed in the right direction. My time with my health coach Debbie Justs has come to a close, so now it is totally on me.

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.

By |October 3rd, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Change is Hard

Just over halfway through this program and eating healthy and exercising regularly is still really hard. It’s a different kind of hard than when I first started. You see, at first everything was so overwhelming. There was so much information and I didn’t know where to start. What really helped was telling everyone I knew about it and hearing all of their encouraging and supportive words. Now that the newness of the program has worn off, I’m starting to worry about long-term success. I don’t want this to be just another “phase” that I fall out of after a few months.

The connections I’ve formed with the other participants is a big part of what has kept me going. Their honesty with their journeys reminds me that I am not alone on this difficult ride. They are with me.  Seeing one or more of them at the gym on a day I really didn’t want to go makes things seem less terrible. Knowing that they are also trying to make healthy food choices helps me walk past the chips and cookie aisles in the grocery store even though that is all I can think of some days. Staying connected to my new-found friends is going to be so important. I can only hope that the connection grows stronger over time. These ladies might not know it yet, but they are stuck with me 🙂

By |September 27th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |1 Comment

Westchester Heart Walk This Saturday at Kensico Dam

It’s time to lace up your sneakers for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk event, this Saturday, September 29th at Kensico Dam in Valhalla. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Heart Walk event nationally. Many local companies and residents have registered teams to walk for their own hearts, for heart and stroke research.

Register or donate online at www.westchesterheartwalk.org

Jennifer Garcia, a 40-year old mom from Peekskill, will be recognized as the Survivor Honoree. Garcia survived a heart attack in February and is sharing her story and walking to help raise awareness and fund research to fight heart disease—the number one killer of men and women.

Garcia experienced chest pain and exhaustion during and after a party in February. The next day, she said head was pounding as if someone was hammering at it, and her blood pressure was sky high. She took her mother’s advice to go to the emergency room. It was a lifesaving decision. The doctor there said the diagnosis wasn’t exhaustion or heartburn, as she had thought–it was a heart attack.

Doctors said that her uncontrolled high blood pressure and possibly her birth control medicine were to blame. The American Heart Association cites research shows that birth control pills can increase blood pressure in some women. It’s more likely to occur if you’re overweight, have had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy, have a family history of high blood pressure or mild kidney disease. The combination of birth control pills and cigarette use may be especially dangerous for some women.

“I realized that this was my wake-up call to take my health and body seriously. This was a life-changing experience, and probably just what I needed to realize the importance of taking care of myself,” she said, “I’m walking to help raise awareness, and for my health–and I want to be around for my son,” she said.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans. In fact, someone dies from cardiovascular disease every 39 seconds. High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at www.heart.org/highbloodpressure.

The Heart Walk is sponsored Dr. Patrick W. Thomas and Mrs. Johanna D. Thomas, Fujifilm, WMC Health/Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, New York Presbyterian, Phelps Hospital/Northwell Health, Westmed Medical Group, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Zedeker DDS, Stop & Shop, Examiner Media, Buzz Creators, and Westchester Magazine.

 

Trying and Not Comparing

This BetterU blog is from SHERYL!!!

Hi everyone, it’s Sheryl, the second oldest member of the Better U team!  And here we are at Week 7…wow!

I think it was our team member Lisa who listed the below statement as being one of her mantras.  After carefully thinking about it and analyzing how I’ve been feeling since we all started this journey, I do believe that Lisa has struck my nail right on the head!

When I look at how dedicated some of the ladies are about their gym time, going there at 5:30 in the morning, walking laps after their personal trainer workout, I find myself saying to myself “wow, Sheryl, why aren’t you doing that? You have way more weight to lose than they do!”  Even though I’m pretty regular about doing my weekly training, with my schedule and my stamina level, there’s just no way I can drag myself (yes, I STILL have to drag myself) there every day.  I love my trainer (yay Brittany…I know, shoulders down, butt out) but when it comes to me just going alone, I’m just not feeling the fire in my belly to go, as some of other ladies obviously are.

After talking with my weight loss coach Debbie Justs (I started seeing her 5 months ago, BBU – Before Better U) she pointed out that before Better U, I did not exercise.  At all.  I pretty much barely moved except when I absolutely had to.  Now, I am working out.  I went to a yoga workshop.  I walk around when I go to the store instead of heading right to the motorized buggies.   I am TRYING.  And I have to stop looking at everyone else and just own (and enjoy) my accomplishments.  Things that used to be a physical chore for me can now be done without becoming totally wiped out doing them, like going up and down the stairs to do laundry, waiting in line (which used to kill my legs.)  And finally I can do what so many ladies like me dream of: I can buy clothes at a regular store…that has plus sizes.

I guess that’s what drives me to eat well, workout, and maybe try to work out a little more.  I want to get to a point where I can live spontaneously and not have to pre-think everything I do/every place I go because of my size.  I have to take a breath, wait a beat, and give myself an attagirl for action that’s become easier…less stressful…instead of thinking “geez, why can’t I get to the gym every day?”  I’m trying to look for ways to move that are fun so I can trick myself into thinking it’s not exercise.  This weekend I bought a hula hoop.  Did you know it’s a “great cardio workout and strengthens and tones your body while burning an average of 400 calories per hour?”  It’s true!  Let’s see how this one works out…so to speak.

By |September 12th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Changes In Me and My Family!

This BetterU blog is from….ELISA!!!

As we cross over the half way point of the program, I am reflecting on how grateful I am for this program, the women on this journey with me, and the sponsors for making it possible. 

 Not many things have impacted my life the way this program has. Through the process I have been able to put exercise and food as a priority for myself in a busy schedule. Learning that there are no more excuses. 

I also have seen change in my family. Watching them begin to take interest in their food choices and exercise program. Could this really be working in my house?!? 

 Setting goals and intentions has made the biggest change. Getting up and remembering the “why” behind the action has helped to make the journey extra special. Also, makes the days I don’t do that well easier to handle. The mentors, mantras, and workshops have added richly to the experience. 

 Thank you!

By |September 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Feeling Different!

Today’s BetterU blog by……ANNE!

Another day, another opportunity to take care of me!  The first thing I do every morning when I open my eyes is give thanks.  I say a quick prayer to remind myself that I am not alone in my journey.  My next thoughts typically turn to my daily plan.  Work commitments? Outfit for the day?  Is it going to be hot, cold, raining? Exercise plan?  Food plan?  Can I train the cats to bring me my coffee?

Yes, my brain likes to take over once I’m awake and yes, I’m a planner.  I have written a weekly plan since I was 12 years old.  Wow, 46 years of planners, notebooks and lists.  I used to think of it as a curse but I’ve learned to use it to my advantage.  My planning has helped me maintain a home and family as a single parent.  It helps me excel in my career.  Now my planning is helping me with my fitness goals.

Truth be told, I’ve been in this place before.  I have oftentimes had gaps in my responsibilities and have been able to sneak in “taking care of me” time.  My problem (IN THE PAST) was my willingness to change my plans if anyone or anything needed my attention.  In short, I only penciled me into my schedule while everything else was written in permanent marker.

So now the challenges emerge.  What’s going to be different this time?

It might sound silly to say but I honestly FEEL different.  My approach this time is looking long-term.  I’m not looking at the Better U program as an opportunity to make a quick fix.  My planning – fitness and food – are sustainable beyond the designated program time.  I’m not overly focused on the scale.  I’m working on feeling good, eating right, making small changes with big results over time.  This introduces yet another challenge.  I am a competitive person.  I want to be the one who succeeds.  I want to be the cream that rises to the top.  I like being a leader and motivator. Yup…I want to be the Better U poster child of ‘look at what you can do’.  I am finding it challenging to stay on my course and not kick it into hyper drive.   That’s where the daily prayers help.  That’s where my mantra (What’s your goal?) refocuses me and my actions. I’m learning to redefine success.  I’m learning that I can still motivate without being hyper-Anne.

Stay the course.

Better U is helping me focus and understand that I am already an awesome me and deserving of self-care.

Life is good and I am blessed.

#healthymindbodyspirit

 

By |September 11th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Gratitude for BetterU

Today’s BetterU blog is from…JUDY!

Can’t believe we are almost ½ through this amazing challenge. I can say it has CHANGED  my lifestyle and I am very HAPPY & BLESSED  for this. Had not been in a gym for so many years (hard to rem ember when) little exercise ,was not a healthy eater, overweight, & achy. So I am not finished with my journey and plan to continue when this AHA better u challenge ends. I want to continue to strive for a Better Me.   I am in the gym  exercising , I am eating healthy foods and my veggies, lost some weight and my aches are from healthy exercising not just old age and inactivity.

These accoumplishments would not have happened to me if it wasn’t for so many people and sponsors. American Heart Assoc. Gold’s Gym, Central Huson, HealthQuest, Q92fm,Macy’s, CVS, Go Red for Women.  I have met so many wonderful ladies that have inspired and motivate me through this time and so thankful I have gotten to meet each one.

I still have a long way to go to reach  my goals, one being keeping my heart healthy and to live to 100.  I surely will continue to strive for them. I know there will be times I fall short but will keep moving ahead.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!. The staff of AHA, all the sponsors, personal trainer, class instructors and the great friends I have made through this experience. I could never do it without you all. I enjoy seeing all the pictures of my partners and  to here about all of the challenges  & successes. I just can’t say enough about this program and how lucky I am.

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

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

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