11th Annual Go Red For Women Luncheon Draws Crowd to Fight Heart Disease

The 11th Annual Dutchess-Ulster Go Red For Women Luncheon, was held on Friday, November 9th at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie. More than 360 women attended the event the luncheon–the American Heart Association’s signature event to help raise awareness and funds to fight women’s number one killer—heart disease. Donations are being accepted at http://dutchessulstergored.heart.org for those who could not attend.

A morning educational session on high blood pressure in women was led by Dr. Amit Patel from The Heart Center, in the Health Quest Affiliate. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all adults with high blood pressure are women. When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats.

“Women need to know about high blood pressure. I ignored it and if it weren’t for my sister convincing me, I might not be here today,” said Maureen Kangas, Chair of the Go Red For Women Luncheon. Kangas, Manager of The Grand Hotel, and other local heart health advocates shared their stories at the event to demonstrate the American Heart Association’s dramatic impact on the health of the community.

Ten years ago, Kangas had her blood pressure taken at a trade show just for fun. It was so high she was told to seek immediate medical attention. She waited, went back to her busy job, and it wasn’t until she told her sister, Nancy Ricci, a nurse, about the high 190/90 reading that she sought medical help. The AHA’s guidelines put her in the hypertensive crisis level—a level which can result in stroke. Today, Kangas takes high blood pressure medicine and she exercises regularly by dancing. Her dance instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Wappingers led a dance demo during the event.

Susan Dallies of Hyde Park said she’s adopted a heart-healthy lifestyle. Her daughter Madison’s survived three open heart surgeries to repair a congenital heart defect. Madison also added her support for the AHA, “I love to be very active and have even participated in the Kids Heart Challenge when we did it at my elementary school. I have walked in the Heart Walk every year since I have been able to walk and was even one of the honorees in 2017.”

Sally Hallenbeck, 76 from Rhinebeck, shared her story of survival from a heart attack and cardiac rehab experience along with Melissa Poland, RN, coordinator of cardiac rehab at Northern Dutchess Hospital. Poland, inspired by her patients, took up a fitness regimen and lost 20 lbs. this year.

Veronica Barker shared how she saved her daughter Brianna’s life with CPR when she was a child. Brianna, now a healthy, happy senior at Penn State, appeared by video to encourage the audience to support the AHA. Emily Smith from Mobile Life Support Services gave the EMS point of view of saving a life from sudden cardiac arrest using the AHA’s CPR guidelines and protocols, which doctors, EMS and bystander use. She encouraged everyone to learn CPR and emphasized that Brianna wouldn’t have survived if her mother didn’t perform CPR before the ambulance arrived.

The Go Red Luncheon event included a health and wellness expo, an inspiring luncheon program, and PURSEonality auction featuring sophisticated handbags, wallets and more. Q92’s Joe Daily and Michelle Taylor returned as event emcees. Denise Doring VanBuren was announced at the Chair of the 2019 Go Red For Women Luncheon event. She challenged everyone to walk a mile a week from now until the event next fall for an accumulated goal of 30 million steps.

The 13 participants in the BetterU Challenge, sponsored by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, were celebrated at the event. Emily Darrow won the BetterU “Spirit Award” and a free year’s membership to Gold’s Gym.

Go Red For Women is sponsored nationally by Macy’s and CVS Health, and locally by The Heart Center, Health Quest, Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation, Gold’s Gym, the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, Bonura Hospitality Group, Hudson Valley Magazine, and Q92. Learn more about preventing women’s number one killer at www.goredforwomen.org. #GoRedHV #HVBetterU

New Life for Better Me

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.

#HVBetterU #GoRedHV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |November 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Grateful for the BetterU Health Journey

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,

Jaime

 

#HVBetterU #GoRedHV

By |October 31st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

BetterU Blog: Taking Stock

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!

By |October 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

BetterU Blog — Suddenly Week Ten

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.

By |October 4th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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

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