Take the American Heart Association's 12-week Go Red BetterU Challenge today! Join Julie, Laura, Molly, Pamela, Paula, Renee and Ruthann in this journey to better health. BetterU is a free online tool that provides resources and tools for women who want to improve their health. Start! now so you can be on the path to becoming a BetterU!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New BetterU Challenge starts Jan. 9, 2012

Beginning at September's Indianapolis Heart Walk, we made a call out for a new round of BetterU Challengers. More than 60 people applied in just four weeks. Our BetterU committee narrowed it down to seven challengers, who will start the 12-week program on Jan. 9.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we introduce the challengers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It Can’t be Over!

It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings and I haven’t sung yet! I don’t want the 2011 BetterU program to end yet. I’ve enjoyed getting to know each one of the Challengers (aka The Fab Four) so much and I’m truly going to miss sharing the journey with you. I hope you all come to the wrap-up party next Monday. We’ll have to talk about keeping in touch. Maybe we can go another round of the BetterU program. That sounds like fun to me. Are you up for it? You all have inspired me tremendously by sharing your stories publicly with all of us. Your little lights are shining and I am so proud of you, Annette, Carla, Natale & Peggy! Sandy F.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Melancholy Baby

While I'm so happy to have participated in the 2011 Indianapolis BetterU challenge, tonight my heart is not only healthier, it is heavy. I'm simply sad to have this wonderful program end. I've learned so much from the St. Vincent dietitians and received words of encouragement from the medical staff. I've learned the power of strength training from Cody at Lifetime Fitness. I've made friends with Peggy, Natale and Carla as we've made this journey together. I've come to know and respect the American Heart Association staff for all that they do every day! Terrific tips, wonderful people and a purposeful cause will be a part of my heart forever.

Final Week

It's amazing how quickly 12 weeks can pass. We kicked off the BetterU Challenge in early March on the heels of the Go Red For Women Luncheon.

The ladies have been very dedicated in making the most of the challenge. They started with a visit with Dr. Nancy Branyas, a cardiologist who gave them an idea of what to prioritize in their journey to better health.

They've also met with dietician Melissa Wrin, and you've read numerous posts about their visits to LifeTime Fitness.

The challengers are looking better on the outside and feeling better on the inside. The next time you see them they'll be looking even better on the outside. Thanks to Nicole Bryan Salon each of our challengers is going to get a complimentary cut and color treatment.

A heartfelt thanks to the salon and everyone else who has supported the BetterU program this year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week 12: Pledge for a Healthy Future

Can you believe that we’re in the final week of our BetterU program? Time flies when you’re having fun and I had a blast. I truly enjoyed getting to know the Fab Four -- Annette, Carla, Natale and Peggy. And I truly enjoyed getting to know the BetterU Committee -- Amy, Bobbi, Kim, Margie, Marla, Michelle, Nancy, Pam and Tim. I don’t want it to end. Hopefully, we can all stay in touch.

Annette, Carla, Natale and Peggy: Over the past 12 weeks, you have taken meaningful steps to makeover your hearts. You should feel good about the progress you made and celebrate your successes. Please do not beat yourself about any setbacks you may have experienced. That is just being human. No one is perfect. Two steps forward -- one step back. It’s a journey and we’re all in this together.

In the last week of the program, we are reminded that, as we continue our journey to lifelong heart health, we should stop if we’re tempted to make a choice that may not support our commitment to an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits. We should think about our progress during the Go Red BetterU program and the personal benefits we are enjoying from new healthy habits. We should remind ourselves why our eating and physical activity choices are important to us. We should choose the best solutions after weighing the benefits and barriers for our options.

I am sure that not all the skills and strategies in the BetterU program were beneficial to you. You should identify the ones that were and use them to form your heart healthy habits. Now that you’re on the path toward a heart-healthy lifestyle, the real fun begins. It’s time for you to reach out and help others do the same. Share your successes and struggles and reach out to others so they can start their path toward a heart-healthy lifestyle. It’s time to let your little light shine!!! I love you guys!!! Sandy F.

Friday, May 20, 2011

oops I did it again...

Well ladies, I have to admit I am disappointed with my behavior lately. (First off that I have not taken the time to post!) I apologize in my lack of blogging as of late! I would think every night, I need to post, oohh that would be good, etc etc.

So oops I did it again...I have had a difficult time keeping up at the gym. I have been working a lot of extra hours at work, traveling, working in the yard, therefore, I have seemed to come up with a million excuses to not make it to my workouts! Furthermore, I haven't seen my trainer for 2 WEEKS due to both of our schedules! My stress level is thru the roof right now, and my favorite med is FOOD! Not healthy food either, JUNK! So I eat it and feel like JUNK! So the I did it again refers to falling off the band wagon yet again!

I am starting to absolve that this being healthy thing will be a challenge for me the rest of my life. I have always KNOWN this, but in my heart I am starting to accept that reality. And my mental health about myself is improving because of this realization. I don't progress anymore to be a size 2 or have the tightest abs. I want to progress to continue to prepare my body for a baby, and to be a healthy me. That's it. I am liking this person in the mirror a little more each day, which has made me more encouraging to others to do the same!

So for a funny...
I have been changing the red mulch and garden beds around with new flowers and black mulch for several weeks now. I get a good workout from all the digging out of bushes, lifting mulch bags and such. I have a little hornet friend who likes to pester me. I have ANXIETY issues with bugs, all bugs, esp ones that inflict pain. So while I mulch I have to monitor what this little booger is doing. Well he (of course it is a HE) was flying close to me and I would sprint to the front door! EVVERYTIME, I would sprint! SO, not only did I get a few miles in of interval training, before my workouts and this program I probably wouldn't have been able to run so fast!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 11: Live Smoke Free

I am so grateful that I never picked up the habit of smoking. With my addictive personality, I’m sure I’d be smoking at least five packs per day. Thank you, God! I did try when I was 20 years old because I always heard that when people stop smoking, they gain weight. I assumed that if you start smoking, you’d lose weight. I just could not get the hang of it. I tried three cigarettes and I was coughing and choking like an idiot. I gave away the rest of the cigarettes and never smoked again. Now, if I cold only do that with chocolate and ice cream. Wow, life would be so easy.

I had a blast at our Get Active event at the U of Indy. We got quite the workout by doing Jazzercise. And boy, did we work out, thanks to our vivacious leader, Latesha. I loved it and I can’t wait to try it again. I’ve done almost every kind of exercise out there, but somehow I skipped Jazzercise. Now I can add that to my repertoire and I plan to really get into it soon. Latesha owns the Jazzercise located at the Performing Arts Center, 575 W. Carmel Drive, Carmel, Indiana. You will have so much fun working out that you won’t realize you’re working out. Try it, you’ll like it. Thank you soooo much, Latesha!!!!

Kudos to our very own Dr. Peggy Averitte. I cut out the article from yesterday’s Indianapolis Star and it’s hanging on my bulletin board. You are my inspiration. Way to go, Peggy!!!

I hope to see everyone at our walking event at the White River Park Visitors Center, 801 W. Washington Street on Saturday, May 21st at 10:00 a.m. Be there or be square! Sandy F.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 10: It’s All in the Family (History)

We can’t control our G’s (genes), but we sure can control our H’s (habits). We can make choices for a healthy future for ourselves and our families. In this week’s program, it suggests that we put our own health first. Many women put the needs of their family first without realizing that they cannot take care of others without taking care of themselves. We should all be role models. This week, my goal is to be an American Heart Association BetterU role model. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m taking the BetterU Challenge right along with the Fab Four and they also know that I have not been as successful as I would like. Well, I just had my AHA moment. I saw that on a commercial and I really thought they were talking about the American Heart Association until I realized that they were talking about “the moment of clarity” or “the moment a solution to a problem becomes crystal clear.” I like using it as my American Heart Association moment – the moment I decided that I will become healthier and stop farting around with all my millions of excuses. In my quest to become a BetterMe, I am going to involve my family and friends so they can each become a BetterU. We’re all in this together. I am also very interested in helping the AHA in their efforts to combat childhood obesity. I plan to learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the EmpowerME program to help kids and families get healthy. Sandy F.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'm back!

Sorry, I've been away for awhile. Positive things are afoot! I fear I am behind my schedule for weight loss. But that's okay. For the first time in 16 years, I ran! Mind you, in my eight years of track and field running was never my forte. Nevertheless, I picked one foot up and then the other in rapid secession. It was quite a breakthrough as up to this point, my legs felt like molten lead.

I was sorry to miss the fitness demonstration but was attending Becoming an Outdoor Woman (BOW). It's a great program to introduce women to outdoor activities. My most eventful session was the canoe. My adventures there resulted in me being crowned Ms. Tippecanoe...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To B12 or Not to B12? That is the question....

OK, so I've had a hard time getting my mojo on since this challenge started...fatigue, lethargy, getting lightheaded while working out...just general blahs. Having a history of anemia, I asked the doctor for a general blood workup. Well, my hemoglobin count was OK, so no anemia there. But my B12 levels were way deficient! Symptoms include light headedness, fatigue, inability to concentrate....Wow, that's me!
Sources of B12 include meat, fish, eggs, dairy...all things I was trying to watch for my cholesterol count....ugh!
So I'm hoping my mojo returns now that I'm getting B12 again.
By the way, mania and psychoses are also effects of low B12....so watch out for my mood swings!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A New Attitude!

This week, as you know, LifeTime Fitness was closed due to remodeling. Who would have suspected that I would have missed not going to the gym; especially with the cost of gas being over $4.00 a gallon? While I am working out I feel like I won't survive. I often ask myself if I'm having fun. Now that I haven't been there for a week I guess I will have to admit that I do miss it and maybe even enjoy it. Alright now I've said it...I enjoy going to the gym. Maybe I enjoy it because I have accepted the fact that it is a necessary evil. Surprisingly I am looking forward to the fitness event this Saturday. Hopefully I'll see many of you there!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Week 8: De-stress and Be Blood Pressure Smart

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” because many people have it for years without knowing it. And the good old American Heart Association has a BetterU course to help us lower our blood pressure to the optimal level of 120/80 mmHg or below. We can’t control some factors, such as race, heredity and age; but we can make heart healthy choices to control other factors that influence our blood pressure, such as obesity, eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, lack of physical activity and stress.

I often react very badly to stress and I like the tips in this week’s program –Fuel your body with healthy foods and drink plenty of water! Get plenty of sleep on a regular basis! Practice deep breathing and relaxation exercises! Unplug and take a break from technology! Positive self-talk! Finding pleasure! And the one I love the most – KEEP MOVING! Our fitness event at the Schwitzer Center at the University of Indianapolis this Saturday is a perfect way to ward off stress (and perfect timing, too). I am so looking forward to seeing you all again. I can’t wait! Please spread the word. We want as many people as possible there to join us as we do fitness dancing, kickboxing, yoga & Pilates. We want to spread the word about BetterU and our wonderful BetterU Challengers. Also, if we’re not too tired after the two-hour workout (yikes), maybe we can go out to eat for a nice heart-healthy salad. Just a thought!

BTW, did you notice the ad on page 19 of the Indianapolis Woman Magazine? It’s a half-page ad in my favorite magazine for my favorite organization (AHA) telling everyone about the Get Fit – Free Fitness Event on Saturday and the Get Moving – Free Walking Event on Saturday, May 21st. Check it out. The ad is wonderful!

Hey Annette, I went to your nephew and niece-in-law’s blogsite and I loved it. I was excited to find out how to make perfect hard boiled eggs. Too bad I learned too late for Easter, but I’m definitely going to try their method the next time I make hard-boiled eggs. I never knew that older eggs peel better than fresh ones (living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks). I think it’s wonderful that they donate any ad revenue to the Good Shepherd Community Center. I’d love to meet them!

CU all Saturday at Schwitzer Center at the University of Indianapolis from 10:00 – noon. Be there or be square! Sandy F.

A Blog Within a Blog

So, I may not be setting the world on fire by losing weight during this program....but I have already learned a lot through the healthy cooking demonstration and by meeting with the dietitian at St. Vincent's. A few of the key things I've learned: not all meat is bad; not all poultry is good; look at fiber intake; I might be drinking too much iced tea as it affects iron absorption...etc. etc.
Learning about food is an ongoing education. I'm learning from my nephew and his wife who are foodies who support buying and eating local, natural foods. They have a beautiful blog, take all their own photos, and any ad revenue they generate is donated to the Good Shepherd Community Center. View it and you may find some key learnings for yourself!

Feel free to share the site with others!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 7: Learn the Truth about Cholesterol

I’ll use any little helpful hint or tip to help me remember things, like when I was in grade school and I was having trouble with dessert and desert. My teacher told me to remember that you always want at least two desserts, so remember the two s’s for something that tastes good and the one s for the dry desert (plus too many desserts will make you big in the middle – too many s’s in the middle). That’s probably not a good example to use when you’re trying to eat healthy, now is it? Actually, right now I’m thinking of the heart-healthy dessert that Executive Chef Scott Reifenberger made for us at the cooking demonstration (chocolate-chipotle crepes w/strawberries, pistachios and a vanilla bean anglaise). Ooh-la-la, my mouth still waters for that one. Now, where was I? Oh yes, to make a short story long – this week’s theme is learning about cholesterol. Margie Fougeron gave us some great helpful tips at the cooking demo to help us remember about the bad and good fats. MONOUNSATURATED, POLYUNSATURATED and SATURATED fats are called the family of fats. We should use MORE of the MONOUNSATURATED oils – canola, peanut and olive oils, and foods high in monounsaturated oils - nuts and avocadoes. These oils and foods help reduce bad blood cholesterol levels. POLYUNSATURATED oils are PRETTY good oils - corn, safflower, soybean and cottonseed oils. SHY away from SATURATED fats because they increase bad blood cholesterol levels. Trans fats are made through the process of hydrogenation that solidifies liquid oils to solid at room temperature. Trans fats act like saturated fat and are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarine, coffee creamers, crackers, cookies, cereals and other snack foods. Check the food labels for the trans fats contents. We should limit trans fatty acids to no more than 2 gm per day.

Thanks to the BetterU program, I now know that LDL “Bad” cholesterol carries cholesterol to the tissues, including the arteries; if too much circulates in your blood, it can clog arteries and form plaque, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. I learned that my optimal LDL should be less than 100 mg/dL. LDL is LOUSY and should be LOW (baaaad). I also know that HDL “Good” cholesterol carries cholesterol away from the arteries, where it is passed from the body. 60 mg/dL and above gives some protection against heart disease. HDL is HAPPY and should be HIGH (gooood).

Speaking of Happy – HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! I miss reading your blogs, Annette, Peggy, Carla and Natale. I hope you are all HAPPY and HEALTHY and I hope you are just so busy getting healthier that you don’t have time to blog. I hope no news is good news, but I would still love to hear from you! Sandy F.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sharing Our Barriers

It sure does help to know that other people have barriers and we’re not the only ones who struggle and have to start all over again with baby steps. But Carla, you did start again and that’s what I love about you and the rest of the Challengers. You’re not going to let anything get you down. It does help to share our barriers because we find out that, although our personal barriers are uniquely our own, there is usually a common thread in all of them. And it does lighten the load when we know that other people care and we’re all in this together. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful sounding board, Natale. Your husband sounds like a dream come true. We all need a sounding board every now and then. That’s why I thought it would be a great idea for all of us to get together for coffee (of course, non-fat, no whip and sugar-free please, right, Natale?) just to talk things out. If not coffee, maybe a salad and iced tea or diet soda (I do not like to drink my calories). Is there a place and time that would work for everyone? I’ll be there with bells on!

Some of us were saying that we don’t get daily tips in our email. Well, I downloaded the BetterMe coaching tool to my desktop and, ooh-la-la, I can just click on it and get as many tips as I want whenever I’m on my computer. The tips and reminders don’t go to your email; they go directly to your tool. You can also download it to your social networking site such as Facebook. This optional tool allows you to conveniently stay on track with your program anytime you are online. Every day, you'll get tips, reminders and more sent directly to your tool. You'll also receive step-by-step guidance and be able to access your journal. This is a convenient, simple way to ensure progress (and encouragement!) every day. I’m loving this Better program more and more! The tips seem to be endless. I especially liked the one that said, “Sit up straight today. Use your abdominal muscles for support and don’t slouch.” That brought back memories of my grade school days when my eighth grade teacher, Sister Justicia, would always get on me about slouching. I am such a sloucher, but not any more after getting that BetterU tip (and reminder of the good old school days)!

I am serious about all of us getting together for line dancing. Wouldn’t it be a hoot for the Fab Four and The BetterU Committee to all go out for line dancing sometime? Let’s do it! What a fun way to burn calories. I’m always trying new ways to exercise. Someone come up with a date and a place and I’ll be there with bells on (again). And of course, you know that I’ll meet anyone anywhere for a walk. My motto is, “Call me day or night if you want to hike.” Sandy F.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Friends of a Feather

Well ladies, after reading the most recent posts about your barriers to working out and eating right, I find comfort in knowing that we all have our struggles to get through. I have had a challenging last couple of weeks. I, once again, am feeling the pressures of work, home, family, friends etc invading on my "me time." In fact that is the easiest time for me to give up, as I think it is for most women. I haven't had time to go to the store and haven't been to the gym as much as I'd like. Thankfully, my husband is my sounding board! I am very blessed to have a husband who does dishes, laundry, and other household chores! He even went to the store and has a menu for this week! Hopefully, with my healthier choices now available at home I will do better this week. I guess I just identified some barriers that the 6th week discusses! ;)

And coffee (non-fat, no whip, sugar-free please!) and dancing sounds wonderful! ;)

WEEK 6: Physical Activity is Good Medicine for Breaking Down My Barriers

Experts recommend that all adults do 150 minutes, or 30 minutes for 5 days of moderately intense aerobic (endurance) activity each week. I always feel so much better after exercising and I always get that WEH (wonderful endorphin high). So why has it been that I’ve been avoiding exercise like the plague lately? I was blaming it on the weather during the winter (I just couldn’t get out and hike on those icy trails). We’re three weeks into spring now, so what is my excuse? I have none, therefore, I am committing to another goal. I plan to walk 40 miles this week. And I plan to go to the gym three times this week and swim once. It’s in writing now and it’s official and I’m going to do it. Can you believe that we're in Week 6 of the BetterU program already? Wow, I said it before (last week, actually) and I'll say it again (probably next week), time flies when you're having fun. I was wondering if anyone would like to get together for coffee to brainstorm brilliant ideas or to discuss any issues concerns, progress, or just anything. If not coffee, I think it would be fun to go out line dancing somewhere. Are any of you up for that? Actually, we could do both - coffee and line dancing. I think it would be a hoot if we all got out there and kicked up our heels in a fun-loving, heart-healthy environment. Sandy F.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Breaking down those barriers

Once again, the timeliness of this week's BetterU lesson is so uncanny. I fell off the bandwagon. Really truly fell, or maybe I lept...ate out, didn't do my workouts. I really do have to work on overcoming my barriers. I was so inspired after coming from the cooking demonstration. I envisioned myself creating these gorgeous plates of healthy, filling, tasty foods like our professional chef from the Skyline Club. Then reality set in. Short of a sugar crisis, the only thing that gets me to the grocery store is running out of milk. Sad, I know. Okay Carla, back to your baby steps. The first one led me across the street to our new local grocery store, Pogues Run (http://www.indyfoodcoop.org/). Pogues Run Grocer focuses on local and organic foods. I can walk across the street at lunch time and do grocery shopping for healthy foods. How cool is that? I found Rainbow Chard there. Never heard of it but cooked it in a wee bit of oil, some garlic and red onions. It was delectable! I think I should do like they do in some European countries and shop every few days for fresh produce. I'm also planning a very small garden this year (tomato, peppers, onions, some herbs). There's nothing quite like seeing the fruits of your efforts springing forth from the ground. As for exercise, I've got spring fever (literally & figuratively-more on that later). I didn't quite make it to the gym but did get few good bike rides in and some walking treks. Sandy- I will make it to one of the Indy Hiking Clubs hikes yet! but stuck close to home & did Fall Creek, Ft. Harrison & the canal. Back to spring fever. Why did I think it a good idea for someone with severe allergies to frolick through the woods, taking in early spring foliage and breathing deeply the woodsy air? Perhaps a momentary lapse in judgment. No, it was worth it! As I sit here wheezing, eyes weeping & itchy, nose twitching & running...sorry, must find tissue...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes...

Okay girls, I must admit that even after the wonderful demo from the dietician and chef I have been terrible about my diet this week! I know what I need to do, I just need to PREPARE more...cut my veggies, buy snack size servings, get to the grocery store! I am great the days I work because my hubs cooks at home and I always pack my lunch!

I have been good about my cardio this week! I jogged outside around our subdivision on Sunday night at sunset (so pretty) for 45mins and today I jogged 3.5miles and lifted weights. Thus the tune of "head, shoulders, knees and toes" comes to mind. Especially the knees! Pounding the pavement has taken its toll on my knees and ankles this week. At the advice of my friends, I think I will be investing in new shoes! And of course I will be seeing my wonderful trainer Kara this Friday! I was actually supposed to meet with her twice this week because of her own schedule conflicts next week but one of the two sessions got cancelled. I was surprised to find myself a little saddened by that! (I mean I love Kara and all but I get severe anxiety about throwing up each time I go!) Recently, I find that I get disgusted with myself when I have an off day on my diet, and I am frustrated when I can't hit the gym! SO that is progress...it didn't used to bother me at all! So I will run my tail off at work tomorrow and Kara will be kicking my tail on Friday! And I am actually excited! (with of course that nagging thought..."don't get sick, don't get sick" running in my mind too! HA!) Have a great rest of the week everyone and get moving outside this weather is AMAZING! ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

What's That Marketing Message Doing In My Meat?

OK, so I consider myself a well-read individual who likes to know about healthy eating, common sense choices and how I can offset my negative genes.
I also have eight smart siblings and one fit husband who know about healthy food choices. So why have we all been taken in by the "All red meat is bad" message perpetrated by the pork and poultry industries?
I learned Saturday that this message is simply untrue. I was shocked to see the cholesterol numbers for chicken and that in some cases it is higher than certain cuts of red meat.
The key learning here is to read the facts, read the labels and then make decisions. I'm not going to go crazy and start eating meat all the time, but I am going to enjoy a sirloin now and again!

Week 5: Weight Control For Your Heart (& GO DAWGS!!!!)

What a wonderful way to end week 4 and begin week 5 – a lively and informational nutritional program from the Director of Public Relations for The Care Group, our very own Margie Fougeron, MS, RD, CD. Thank you so much, Margie, for organizing this wonderful event. I learned so much on Saturday, April 2nd, and I can’t wait to start using my knowledge. To top it off, we had a cooking demonstration from award-winning chef, Scott Reifenberger from the Skyline Club. He made smoked salad, roasted peppers, poached pears & maple-walnut vinaigrette and chocolate-chipotle crepes w/strawberries, pistachios and vanilla bean anglaise. Ooh-laa, I was in seventh heaven. I didn’t know food that looked so elegant and tasted so delicious could also be so healthy. What a wonderful eye opener. Thank you so much, Scott. I can’t wait to try the recipes at home. We were treated to a wonderful “twofer” on Saturday. Good knowledge and good food. Wow, it just doesn’t get better than that.

I’m sure by now that everyone knows her BMI. Mine is definitely higher than it should and I am making a vow today that both my BMI and waist circumference will be better at the end of our 12-week journey than it is today. Since this is the week we are to concentrate on weight control for our heart, I am going to get down and get busy and get healthy. I know that my mood affects my eating. Whenever I get depressed, I automatically go for something sweet, especially chocolate. And while, dark chocolate is good for the heart, I know the portions I eat are detrimental to my health. I am making another vow today. Starting right now, whenever I get the urge to eat something unhealthy, I will drink water. Yes, that’s my goal and I’m sticking to it. Have a great week 5, everyone, and GO DAWGS!!!! Sandy F.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Well as I said earlier, we’re all in this together. Thank you so much, Michelle, for pointing out that I blogged the wrong date for the Indianapolis Hiking Club’s hike. It should be Tuesday, April 5th, not the 4th. See there you go, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Color me LUCKY. Speaking of support, thank you, Michelle, for always being so supportive and just so darn sweet. CU all on Saturday the 2nd at the cooking demo and Tuesday the 5th for the hike. I can’t wait! Sandy F.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Free Cooking/Nutrition Demonstration

Mom, what’s for dinner? Do you get that question a lot? Do you wonder how you can make quick and easy meals that not only will taste good, but will be good for your family? Learn how to prepare tasty and healthy meals for your family at a free cooking and nutrition demonstration on Saturday, April 2nd.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. Call the American Heart Association at 732-4700 to reserve your spot and to get more information.

Meet BetterU Challenger Peggy A.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 4: Surround Yourself with Support

I really, really believe that building a support team is one of the most important aspects of staying motivated. Annette, Carla, Natale and Peggy - you are four lucky women. You have informational support through the BetterU Program. You have emotional support from all of us on the BetterU Committee. And you have participatory support from each other and the entire group of inspired women who are taking the BetterU challenge right along with you. Don’t ever hesitate to call me if you want someone to talk to or walk with. I’m here for you! We all need each other. I love that song by Bill Withers, Lean On Me. As you know, I am a member of the Indianapolis Hiking Club and I absolutely love it. It motivates me to keep walking because walking with friends is so much more fun for me than walking by myself. I hope you all try it at least once. Just go to indyhike.org and check it out. I’ll be leading a hike for beginners on Tuesday, April 4, 2011, at 6:00 pm at Northwestway Park. I hope you join me and the Indianapolis Hiking Club. I’m also a member of TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and I find a lot of support through this non-profit organization. Of course, we are all different and we all have different support needs. I just hope no one is trying to do this alone. We’re all in this together. Sandy F.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Life got in my way!

Okay Okay, so this is the completion of week 3, I feel like I have little to show for it! I didn't log my diet once! Booooo!!!! I have family in town, we are working on renovating a house, work, extra classes at work, trainer session, workout sessions, etc etc etc. I feel like my life has been so off track this past week. The ETCs are what got me in this mess in the first place! I am a little irritated with myself, and hope that my schedule lightens up this week! But wait, I signed up for overtime! Yikes! I feel like I am on mental overload! And the time that I spent trying to catch some zzz's (which I have difficulty with anyways) I should have been working out!

Well, I will chalk this week up to nonsense. I have planned my workouts this week, will be stocking up on my favorite healthy food choices and am on my way to a massage right now! SO, hopefully I will start out fresh at work tomorrow and continue to have a smooth week! I am tired of this same 'ol number on the scale! I plan to kick its butt now!

Oh on the bright and more accomplishing side:
I rocked my workout with Kara this week! Didn't get sick at all! ;) Ha!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere!

So, I found out from personal trainer Cody something I already knew: I'm not drinking enough water. Like any healthy habit (or lack thereof), it's easy to come up with a reason why you are not doing what you should. In this case, I trace it back to my two pregnancies, when I had morning...really all-day....sickness so bad that I would vomit up water. Since then, it's been hard for me to drink water like I used to pre-pregnancies.
What I like about Cody is that he is reasonable...he didn't say "Let's get you to drink 3 gallons of water each day," instead he suggested starting with a goal of 32 oz a day. I like goals, guidelines and challenges, so his words did help me this week.
I took my wonderful insulated water bottle to work, where we have a chilled water dispenser. I keep water in my car at all times, so that if I drink as I'm running around every day, I can really knock back a few ounces.
I know the benefits of drinking water include digestive health, curbing the appetite, staving off dehydration...and one that really speaks to me: great looking skin!
So if you can incorporate more water into your daily routines, take a dive with me into h2o health!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Jouney Continues

Well today is another day in my 12 week journey. To my surprise the water aerobics class was fantastic! I really did not want to get out of the pool. But reality quickly set in that I had to "keep it moving" in order to arrive in the gym for Team Weight Loss. I now that the old adage states that "Rome was not built in a day..." and conversely I did not gain my weight in a day. But I must admit for the most part it was more fun gaining than loosing. :-) Who knew that loosing would be so hard? Hard as it may be I am happy to report that I am very encouraged.

My stamina and endurance has increased tremendously. My chronic back pain, though it is ever present, is not always at the forefront of my mind. And in my opinion this is a good thing.

I feel that after the BetterU Challenge I will continue exercising in the gym. I am becoming more conscience of what I eat and when (time of day). I am drinking more water. (Although I still drink one a regular Coke a day.) I am working on not using food to find solace during a crisis. And I will be the first to admit that this alone is worth celebrating.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Week Three

We are now into week three and the beat goes on. I can now say that I lead an active life thanks to the Better U initiative and Lifetime Fitness. On Mondays I meet with my trainer Kara, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday there's JT and the Team Weight Loss Program. And Tuesday-Friday the water aerobics class consumes another hour of my morning. Now you may be wondering what happened to Saturday and Sunday. Well right now I use Saturday as my day of rest and Sunday as my day of worship. (A girl has to have a break sometime!)

After all of this exercise and training I became a little discouraged when my home scales registered a 7lb. weight loss. Come on I have been working out like a mule and eating like I'm suppose to and this is my reward. My trainer said that the scales don't show more because I'm developing muscle mass. Forget the mass let's loose some pounds!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia.-Alexis Carrel

What's on your plate? This week's BetterU lesson was quite timely. It reminds me that I'm taking baby steps. Before the year started, I decided to drastically change my eating habits. That never happened! Knowing darn well that such a change was not sustainable, my mind staged a silent revolt, leaving me in a state of inertia.

1) Find a logging system that works for you
2) Focus on behaviors you want to change
3) Take time to log

Tracking...that's the essence of this week's lesson. How simple is that? I can handle that. Especially since my trainer Everett introduced me to www.thedailyplate.com. Not only does this site breakdown my daily intake into calories, fat, sodium, protein etc...and compare it to where I should be, it also tracks my physical activity. It's just nifty! Thanks Everett! Of course, I also like my monthly paper calendar as I'm a visual person. I've committed to tracking three days a week...any two representative days and my worst day, which tends to be on the weekend as I'm quite fond of eating out.

This has certainly helped me become a BetterMe. I'm not completely oblivious when eating out these days. I make an effort to review the nutritional value. At Arbys I asked to see the nutrition chart and ended up choosing the chicken roast sandwich, light on the dressing, over the turkey sub. And when my co-worker treated me to breakfast for my birthday, I chose the lesser of two evils, the McDonald's chicken biscuit (fewer calories, less fat...) over the Hardees one. Of course, I could have chosen oatmeal and avoided that gastrointestinal nightmare altogether, but hey, this is a process. More steps forward than backwards with occasional olympic sprints.

Week 3: Stick to Your Plan

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I just love reading your blogs. Carla, pictures don’t lie, do they? There’s no way that sweet innocent face of your beautiful twin could be an evil saboteur. She sure doesn’t look like a Little Debbie temptress. Pictures don’t lie, or do they?!?! Well, I don’t need a little Debbie temptress in my life, because I am she. That is, until right now. I am letting you know that I am going to be a BetterMe despite myself. I am going to start tracking my eating and physical activity in a beautiful journal that my friend gave me for Christmas. I haven’t used it yet and I think it’s about time I do. One thing I really want to start doing is to drink more water. Do any of you have a problem with not drinking enough water? I hope not, but if you do, then I’m in good company. I drink way too many cans of Diet Pepsi and I’m going to try to replace them with glasses of fresh, sparkling water. I’m going to add a slice of lime to my water and I am going to love drinking that refreshing water. I am really looking forward to adding water to my diet and getting rid of all my cans of Diet Pepsi. As I was reading this week’s program, I noticed that it said sneak in 10-minute or more bouts of activity throughout my day. That’s easy enough. I also like the idea of increasing the intensity of the activities I already do, like cleaning with more vigor. That’s what I’m going to do tonight – clean my kitchen floor with vim and vigor. So ladies, I am going to attack the kitchen floor with a vengeance; the kitchen floor will meet its match; and I will get a little stronger. And goodbye, Diet Pepsi - hello, refreshing sparking H2O. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!
Sandy F.

Meet Natale: Striving to "walk the walk"

Natale is a nurse. She joined BetterU so she could practice what she preaches as she advises patients how to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I will work out 3.14 Times a Week..Did Someone say Pie?

Since the time we were born, numeric measures have given us our worth. As a brand new baby, my nephew Andy's head size was in the 99th percentile, for example. We continue to be measured by SATs, GPAs, our FICO score, our net worth, the square feet of our house, our salaries, our height, our weight....the list goes on.
As a marketer I know that goals should be measurable. So last week I said that my goal was to work out three times. So I did: Wednesday, Monday, Wednesday. Did I work out 2 times in one week or 3 times in 7 days? Did I reach my goal?
While I'm not sure if I hit threshold, target or stretch (carryover from my corporate days) on that goal, I know one thing: I loved every minute of the strength training, stretching and flexing that I did. I actually felt skinnier and although sore, I ate better as a result of the exercise. It's a cycle that can be vicious at times and encouraging at other times.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saboteur Thy Name is Camille!

This is not the face of an innocent! This is the face of someone good at being bad...very bad! Thanks my evil twin for bringing home the chicken wings...and Little Debbie snacks...and potato chips.

Lead me not into temptation. Thank you, I can find my own.

We're in the Middle of Week 2 - Yeehaw!

Hello Challengers!
I just love reading your blogs. I’m right there with you ladies and I can feel your pain. Wow, working out with Kara and the other trainers at Lifetime Fitness would be such a special treat. I am jealous! When we started our BetterU journey last week, I thought I had it under control, especially because Lent started last week also and I just knew that I was going to be a new, BetterMe. Well, week 2 is here and I was doing okay until we had a big St. Patrick’s Day pitch-in at work today. Yikes, I’m not feeling in control any more. It’s funny because I truly believe you four challengers can do it and you’re inspiring me, but I don’t have faith in myself. HOWEVER, I am vowing today at this very moment to change my attitude. I am focusing on moving forward and I am not going to give the past one more minute of my time or energy. My friend told me that if you think you can do something…then you absolutely can do it. PERIOD. So, ladies, WE can do this! In week 2, I am choosing to make changes in my lifestyle so I can reduce my risk factors of heart disease. To stay motivated, I am going to reward myself on Sunday the 20th, which is the first day of spring. I’m going to buy myself the book, The Joy Factor. I can’t wait! I am looking forward to seeing you all on April 2nd at the cooking demonstration (if not before). As you know, I am a member of the Indianapolis Hiking Club and there are many hikes every day to choose from (go to indyhike.org for the complete schedule). As a matter of fact, I am leading a hike on Tuesday, April 5th at Northwestway Park at 6:00 p.m. for beginners. I hope you can join me. Here’s to a BetterU and a BetterMe! :) Sandy, BetterU Chair

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Listen to your body..."

Today I met with my trainer, Kara, who happens to be Peggy's trainer too. So Ms. Peggy I followed your advice not wanting to be late and actually showed up 15 mins early. I ate my cereal as usual before heading to the gym. After my warm up, we started working on new machines, pulleys, chin ups, and abs. This workout was beggining to kick my rear, and rumble my tummy. Kara, was very sweet and gave me time between exercises, encouraging me to deep breathe and "listen" to my body. When we would move about the gym , I would eyeball the nearest trash can just in case! How frustrating to not be able to work out at my full potential but with the pale, clammy and nauseated state I was in, I had to take several breaks. Normally, I would knock out my cardio routine after I meet with Kara. Today I couldn't even walk down the stairs, I was advised to take the elevator (prob due to my pallor, I think I made Kara nervous).
Upon my exit off the elevator, I had the most disgusting feeling and ended up vomiting in the nearest trash can. Might be TMI for some of you but this is what you go thru when you don't take care of yourself (and eat breakfast too close to your workout). A sweet woman, old enough to be my grandmother and in great shape I might add, brought me a towel and said "Bless your heart, sweetie." My thoughts are "yes, yes indeed bless my heart, that is why I am here over this trash can right now."
Afterwards, I felt like a new woman, but exhuasted! I came home, not completing my cardio workout and feeling somewhat defeated. I listened to my body, ended up napping for 3 hours! Guess I needed some rest! I am struggling with feeling like I failed today, since I couldn't complete the usual 2 hour routine, getting sick, and not living up to my own standards. But, I was bound to have asome bad days during this journey. In hindsight, I will make sure I have rested plenty, and might just have a banana several hours before I work out! Considering today's lesson more of an educational workout in understanding my body's signals.

Oh and at one point I asked Kara how many of her clients get sick during a workout and she actually smiled and said about 8 out of 10. Kara doesn't know that I got sick yet, but I am happy I could keep her stats in check! Ha!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Word of Advice

Today I was late getting to the gym and man did I pay an awful price! My trainer tried to "kill me." It was my fault...when the alarm clock went off at 6:30 am I inadvertently pushed the snooze (bad move). Since I was late my trainer tried to make up for lost time. My advice...don't be late for your session even if it is 10 or 15 minutes or you will pay dearly! :-)
After my session with my trainer I went to the water aerobics class for an hour. It was rough at first but being in the water helped me to recover from my earlier session. Again my friends, learn from my "torture" what ever you do, don't be late!

Meet Annette: An inspiration to us all

Annette decided 2010 was her time to become a BetterU. She lost 55 lbs. Now she's part of the 2011 BetterU Challenge to maintain her motivation and to inspire others.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Day for You

Inertia. I really didn't feel like exercising last Thursday. I was tired, had a long next day, much house work (still not complete) to do and some family projects. Then I asked myself, what would I be doing if I didn't go to the gym? After hemming and hawing, I finally decided to go. And then I went Friday. And today. And I'll go tomorrow. And I feel darn good! After doing my one hour treadmill routine and weights, I stepped out into the sunshine smiling, grinning really. Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration. And sometimes you need to start over. Here's one of my bits of inspiration.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This is the Stuff....

Well, as week one comes to a close, I am proud that I have ROCKED my 45min + cardio workouts! However, I am struggling to decided what route to take next....more diet changes, try new classes, swim laps... suggestions please!

I have made a lot of poor health choices (diet, lack of exercise, no annual physicals) since I graduated college. I find that once I get started, all it takes is one of life's bumps (this season potholes!) to lead me off path. I get frustrated and give up! It is usually a bump in my personal life or a significant event at work that leaves me emotionally drained, and then I can't seem to cheer myself on to go to the gym. We all know that when you have a bad day, once you have completed a workout a small ray of sunshine appears. A sense of accomplishment restored, the will to get up, get movin' and move on! ;)

My bump this week was my little brother moving out and onto Chicago, leaving me the lone child in this state. No parents, no brothers. Which of course I should feel blessed that my family is in good health just scattered about the states; BUT selfishly I want them all to myself, right here, right now. So emotionally drained, I am! Thanks to my husband, brother, and now my own self saying "keep it up, make 'em proud", I am still going! Today, wasn't the most fun day at the gym...with a lot of mind games I did run the farthest I have in years!

Just a song that comes to mind...
This is the stuff that drives me crazy,
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately,
In the middle of my little mess,
I forget I big I'm blessed...
This is the stuff.

The stuff is what matters, it tests us in time, which reveals our blessings. How thankful and blessed I feel for this opportunity to take charge of my health and offer support to other women empowering themselves as well!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Ah Ha Moment

Another day of trying to make a change in my lifestyle. I think that I have finally figured this thing out. That is, changes that are expected to be sustained don't happen over night. Yes I have increased my exercise program from almost none to working in the pool/gym a minimum of four days a week two hours a day. This to some may be such an exciting experience; but it is not the case for me. The workout is strenuous and very taxing. Long story short...I keep wondering when will the fun begin? Will this ever get easy, or will I struggle with this for the rest of my life? Just when I think I have gotten a routine udder my belt we're off to the next level. I guess this is where the realization sets in that, "Only the strong survive."

Dear Self, Why Do You Sabotage Me?

I've known for quite a few weeks that March 7 was the launch date for the Better U Challenge....so what did I do leading up to that date? I ate like I was a bear preparing for hibernation! And I totally slacked off in my exercising...like I could store up that unused energy and unleash it all at once this week like a super-human Amazon woman!
But alas, eating and exercising does not work like that...we need an ongoing, steady flow of nourishment in and energy out to get the maximum benefit to our heart and other vital organs. So little white powdered donuts, bah bye! Valentines Day candy marked 90% off--no more hopping into my shopping cart.
I'm ready now, Better U Challenge. From now on, sensible eating, steady exercise and a Better Me.

What About Bob?

Ever watch 'What About Bob?' with Bill Murray as the neurotic patient? In it, Dr. Leo urges Bob to take 'baby steps' to reach his goals (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3JPa2mvSQ4&feature=related). That's what I'm doing here, baby steps. Hopefully with more steps forward than backwards.

Since last week I've been baby stepping through treadmill and circuit routines with my Lifetime Fitness trainer Everett. And with suggestions from Dr. Branyas, I've started baby stepping my way to better nutrition, such as adding almonds as a snack and yogurt to add protein to my typical breakfast of cereal. Of course, babies do fall...but that's why we have the BetterU program, to help us baby step our way to a healthier life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Let the Fun Begin!

Now that our journey has officially begun I an excited yet cautious. I have been down the road of weight loss many times in the past. But...I continue to remind myself that this trip will be different.
Working with my personal trainer, Kara, has been a pleasant experience. (We actually started working together last week.) This week I amped up my exercise by joining Team Weight Loss (a 4X week treadmill exercise program). And if that was not enough I also started water aerobic 4 days a week. I figure if I "slip" in the caloric consumption department I'll have some "wiggle room" in the exercise department. If you get too close to me you will hear my body screaming from "the burn." For the last 3 month I have had no exercise and now 4 days a week, wow!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Carla on WTHR

Carla did an outstanding job explaining the BetterU Challenge to Angela Cain during WTHR's Focus segment. Watch it here: http://www.wthr.com/story/817967/focus

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heart: What a simple word for such a complex organ.


Il cuore=Italian

El Corazon=Spanish

Le Coeur=French

So many beautiful ways to say heart! Being a nurse, I generally think of the heart as a functioning organ, for my patients. I think of the heart as a beating mechanism, a powerhouse that allows for life; but I never thought of my own heart beating for my own life. Sounds crazy, I know! To be a nurse and not think of my own heart? Well, I am also a woman, wife, friend, daughter, sister, etc. As we all know, being WOMEN sets us up for taking care of others and putting their needs before our own...just like a nurse, mother, wife.

Also, being WOMEN, we are learning that heart disease (not such a beautiful word) is the number one killer of women age 20 and over. Fact: One woman dies from heart disease (there's that disgusting word again) every minute! So, having the honor and opportunity to be a BetterU Challenger and having increased my knowledge about heart disease, healthy choices and lifestyle changes, I must admit that my view of what my own heart means is changing.

Now that I am acknowledging my own heart, I have questioned what the simple word HEART means. Love, health, life? Initially I thought heart meant health. Taking care of my patients, means keeping them healthy. Well, why not take care of myself, and become healthier? Which in turn means that my lifespan will increase. Which will end in the great result of being a HEALTHier me, living a longer LIFE, with much more LOVE to share. What does your heart mean to you? How far are you willing to go to keep that precious powerhouse healthy?

This week marks week 1 of our 12 week journey. My personal goal this week is to focus on my cardiac workouts, increasing their length, resistance and level. I look forward to improving my hearts endurance, no matter what sweat equity is required! I know that I will be more successful some weeks than others. I hope to learn how to be my own best cheerleader and put myself first through this process!

Go Red For Women to learn how to Love a Heart Healthy Life!


Better U: Week 1


The Better U program for our four challengers -- and for you, if you've signed up to join them -- begins today. The Getting Started section of Week 1 on the Better U website asks you to think of two women who are important to you. The odds are that one of the three of you will develop heart disease. Now is a great time to reach out to those women and ask them to join you in this journey. 

If you haven't yet signed up to participate in the free, 12-week Better U program, you can do so by clicking the link at the top of this page or clicking right here.

The Better U tool will help you set a goal for the week in at least one of the following areas:
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Lowering your heart disease risk
  • Making lasting changes
You'll also be encourage to choose way to reward yourself when you meet that goal.

We hope to make this blog a place for dynamic community conversation. Leave a comment below telling us what goal you've selected or how you intend to reward yourself for a job well done.

I can't wait to hear from Peggy, Carla, Annette and Natale to see how the first week of the Better U program is shaping up for them.

Amy Magan
2010 Better U Participant

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are you ready for a Better U?

How often have you said to yourself, "I'm starting my diet (or exercise program) on Monday"? Well, this coming Monday, March 7 is THE day.

On Monday, March 7, the four 2011 Better U challengers -- Annette, Carla, Natale and Peggy -- will lead the charge toward better heart health for hundreds of women in Indianapolis and beyond. You can join them.

Sign up to begin shaping your Better U by enrolling at www.GoRedForWomen.org/BetterU. Choose March 7 as your start date.

The free, online program will help you improve your heart health by focusing on small improvements -- one each week for 12 weeks. Our Better U challengers will be using this blog to share their successes (and challenges). We hope you'll leave comments here to share yours as well.

Sign up today. Invite a friend or two to join you. Because this time, we really are starting on Monday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 BetterU Challenge set to begin on March 7

Because 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease, the American Heart Association is encouraging everyone to take the free 12-week BetterU Challenge.

Women who enroll will have access to a variety of online tools and will receive daily tips in their e-mail inboxes.

In Indianapolis, the American Heart Association has chosen four women to be the "face" of the challenge. Those ladies will be introduced at the Go Red For Women Luncheon on Feb. 25 and will encourage all 1,000 attendees to enroll in the program.

We encourage you to follow the progress of our four challengers right here on this blog. Better yet, take the challenge with them. Enroll today at www.GoRedForWomen.org/BetterU.