BetterU – Week 8 Information & Action Steps

Welcome to week 8 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Week 8


I hope this finds you all feeling well! This past week was the 8th week of the BetterU 12-week health challenge! We are ¾ of the way through this journey learning how to have healthier hearts and bodies and lower our risk factors for heart disease and other lifestyle-related diseases. I hope you are all feeling better than you did 8 weeks ago!

Week 8 focus: Blood Pressure Education

For millions of Americans, high blood pressure is putting them at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

  •  According to the American Heart Association high blood pressure is a sign that the heart and blood vessels  are being overworked.
  • Untreated high blood pressure can damage and weaken your arteries.
  • Untreated, high blood pressure can lead to atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
  • According to the CDC 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure.
  • In 2010 high blood pressure was projected to cost the United States $93.5 billion in health care services, medications  and missed days at work.
  • According to an estimated 3% of children have preventable high blood pressure.

I myself had dangerously high blood pressure up until I was 25 years old, it started in my teenage years. I also have a family history of high blood pressure, most due to controllable factors. My brother does have high blood pressure from genetics, as he has Polycystic Kidney Disease. He does have to control his blood pressure through medication no matter what, but he still strives to lead a healthy lifestyle to further help control what he can. When I ate better and moved more my blood pressure lowered naturally (along with shedding excess weight by doing these things) and I maintain a healthy blood pressure now with a healthy lifestyle and making healthy choices.

High blood pressure is often silent, many people have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Know your numbers. Pharmacies and fire stations are great places to check your blood pressure occasionally for free. If you need to check your numbers more often, at-home blood pressure monitors are easy to use and allow you to monitor more close.

Good news! High blood pressure is manageable. Find out what you can do to enjoy wellness and live at your healthiest potential! According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure can be controlled through these 8 ways:

Eat a better diet (focused on in-depth in weeks 2 and 5) which may include reducing salt

Enjoy regular physical activity (focused on in-depth in week 3)

Maintain a healthy weight (focused on in-depth in week 5)

Manage stress

Avoid tobacco smoke (we will focus on this more in Week 11)

Comply with medication prescriptions

If you drink, limit alcohol

Understand hot tub safety  – limit to no more than 15 minutes.

From the AHA: “Managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment; make a pledge to do so starting today for yourself and for those you love. Listen to your doctor, read the sound medical information on the American Heart Association website, and act on the information to live a heart-healthier life.”

Here are some  more in-depth files for you from the American Heart Association on preventing and managing high blood pressure, understanding what your numbers mean, what a healthy blood pressure level is, as well as help managing stress. The BetterU handbook of course has more information! Here is the file for the Week 8 information from the BetterU handbook.

Week 8 Action Items

Activity goals:

  • Continue striving for or achieving your goal of 150 minutes of physical movement per week.
  • Plan your movement for the week when you meal plan. Have a Plan B for if and when Plan A falls through. Make a promise to yourself that you will continue doing this every week.
  • Celebrate every day you get your movement in, enjoy your days off and keep trying new workouts to keep you excited and looking forward to exercise!

Nutrition goals:

  • Pay some more attention to portion sizes. Try as best as you can to go the entire week by eating the appropriate portions. You can reference the portion sizes in the file from Week 2 on healthy grocery shopping.
  • Keep sodium in check! If you are still eating processed foods, pay close attention to the sodium level. Can you make the same thing from scratch and cut back on the sodium? If you are eating mostly unprocessed foods, chances are you are eating extremely low sodium naturally. If you add salt to your food measure it to see how much you are actually using and see if you can cut back. Or, better yet, skip the sodium and add natural flavor enhancers such as spices, herbs and salt-free flavor blends that don’t have added chemicals. Experiment with flavors and have fun!
  • Continue to menu plan once a week and shop according to that list. Enjoy having a plan for the week, see what a difference it makes!
  • Continue to journal your food intake and take notes on emotions. When you see a pattern that you are wanting to change, create a plan of action for the next time you struggle.
  • Pat yourself on the back for every single positive choice you make!

Week 8 Highlights

BetterU Zumba

Look at those smiles! What a fun workout!

Zumba leader Vidette and participant getting ready to Zumba !

Zumba leader Vidette and participant getting ready to Zumba !

  • This week we did Zumba – it sure was fun! Wow, what a fabulous workout! I couldn’t stop smiling! Of course it isn’t for everyone, those that couldn’t participate hopefully enjoyed watching those of us who partook in the workout look silly!  Finding new ways to enjoy exercise is what we were going after, if Zumba is not your thing I hope you will take some time to explore something that you may enjoy! I am hearing a lot of you enjoying water aerobics, this is a fantastic low-impact way to get your heart rate up! Of course walking seems to be the #1 way most of us are enjoying our goal of 150 minutes of physical activity per week and it sure fits the bill wonderfully!  I’m personally doing something new with Barre workouts I’m doing from home with the assistance of a workout DVD which are very low impact and I am loving, some are trying cross-fit, yoga, Pilates, using the stair-climber….I love hearing what you are doing! If you have something new that is working great for you, please let us know!A very special thank you to Vidette, our Zumba instructor from the Lynnwood Red Center. If you are wanting to find out more about Zumba or take one of Vidette’s classes, head over to You can search your location for classes near you that work with your schedule. You can find Vidette’s Zumba schedule and page here:
  • Kirsten’s recipe of the week: A delicious, heart-healthy Mexican meatball soup called Albondigas…ole! I hope you enjoy this delicious, easy to prepare soup from scratch!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 8 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center


BetterU – Week 7 Information & Action Steps

Welcome to week 7 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Week 7

Week 7 focus: Learn the truth about cholesterol

As you will see in the BetterU program book (which you are hopefully making time to sit down and explore and fill out weekly) this week we are learning more about cholesterol.

Dr Siecke

This past Tuesday was a really poignant presentation given by Dr. Neil Siecke, a cardiologist at the Swedish Medical Center in Edmonds.  Dr. Siecke not only talked to us about cholesterol, he also educated us about how our hearts function, what happens when a heart attack occurs, what he recommends as the best lifestyle to keep our hearts healthy, how living a less-than healthy lifestyle leads to much more than an increased waist line and how high cholesterol is not only an adult problem anymore.

Better U artery

Seeing the images of a heart damaged by years of poor lifestyle choices really puts things into perspective. When most of us set out to lose weight it is for vanity reasons, to shed excess pounds to “get skinny” or to look better in clothes. The REAL goal of living a healthy lifestyle, which has the added benefit of helping our bodies achieve a healthy weight naturally, should be to keep our hearts as healthy as they can be.

What is cholesterol?


The American Heart Association says cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body’s cells. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’) cholesterol can join with fats and other substances to build up in the inner walls of your arteries. The arteries can become clogged and narrow, and blood flow is reduced. High-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) carries harmful cholesterol away from the arteries and helps protect you from heart attack and stroke.

It may surprise you to know that cholesterol itself isn’t bad. In fact, cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy. Some of the cholesterol we need is produced naturally (and can be affected by your family health history), while some of it comes from the food we eat.

There are two types of cholesterol: “good” and “bad.”  It’s important to understand the difference, and to know the levels of “good” and “bad” cholesterol in your blood. Too much of one type — or not enough of another — can put you at risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Siecke informed us that it is not always a good thing to have very elevated HDL “good or helpful” cholesterol. He said a good way to judge if it is healthy is if there are also elevated triglycerides. If so, then having a very elevated HDL number is not necessarily healthy. The AHA says cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is only found in animal products.”

What can cholesterol do?


The American Heart Association says high cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have other risk factors {such as high blood pressure or diabetes} as well as high cholesterol, this risk increases even more. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Also, the greater the level of each risk factor, the more that factor affects your overall risk.

When too much LDL (bad) cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can result.

High blood cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and tobacco smoke) are present, this risk increases even more. Your cholesterol level can be affected by your age, gender, family health history and diet.

What is a healthy cholesterol level and how can I manage my numbers?


Click here for a file showing how to read your cholesterol numbers and what is optimal or unhealthy.  Further, the AHA has this statement: “We recommend using the absolute numbers for total blood cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels. They’re more useful to physicians than the cholesterol ratio in determining the appropriate treatment for patients. Some physicians and cholesterol technicians use the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol in place of the total blood cholesterol. The ratio is obtained by dividing the HDL cholesterol level into the total cholesterol. For example, if a person has a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL and an HDL cholesterol level of 50 mg/dL, the ratio would be 4:1. The goal is to keep the ratio below 5:1; the optimum ratio is 3.5:1.”

According to the AHA a cholesterol screening measures your level of HDL and LDL.  HDL is the “good” cholesterol which helps keep the LDL (bad) cholesterol from getting lodged into your artery walls.  A healthy level of HDL may also protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women) have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

If you need to increase your HDL to your reach your goals, studies show that regular physical activity, such as at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) every week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week can help your body produce more HDLs.  Reducing trans fats and eating a balanced, nutritious diet is another way to increase HDL.  If you smoke – stop: cigarette smoking can decrease your HDL. If these measures are not enough to increase your HDL to goal, your healthcare practitioner may prescribe a medication specifically to increase your HDLs.

LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol. When too much of it circulates in the blood, it can clog arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

LDL cholesterol is produced naturally by the body, but many people inherit genes from their mother, father or even grandparents that cause them to make too much. Being overweight, eating saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol also increases how much you have. If high blood cholesterol runs in your family, lifestyle modifications may not be enough to help lower your LDL blood cholesterol. Everyone is different, so work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that’s best for you.

How can I get (or keep) my cholesterol under control?


Lifestyle Changes

Your diet, weight, physical activity and exposure to tobacco smoke all affect your cholesterol level — and these factors may be controlled by:

  • eating a heart-healthy diet
  • enjoying at least 150 minutes a week moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and more than two days a week muscle strengthening activities
  • avoiding tobacco smoke (to be discussed in depth in week 11)
  • We’ve gone through all of the ways to help improve your lifestyle in these ways over the past 6 weeks. Go back through the weeks to continue to learn more or refresh yourself about how to plan weekly to set yourself up for a healthy lifestyle, how to shop for heart healthy foods, foods to avoid, exercise, tools to help ensure lasting positive change such as identifying goals, breaking through barriers, journaling, as well as having a healthy mindset to help you keep this lifestyle for…life!


Know Your Fats

According to the AHA knowing which fats raise LDL cholesterol and which ones don’t is the first step in lowering your risk of heart disease.  In addition to the LDL produced naturally by your body, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and dietary cholesterol can also raise blood cholesterol. Replacement of saturated fat and trans fat with monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat might help lower LDL cholesterol when eaten as part of a healthy diet.

The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises these fat guidelines for healthy Americans over age 2:

  • Limit total fat intake to less than 25–35 percent of your total calories each day;
  • Limit saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total daily calories;
  • Limit trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories;

The remaining fat should come from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as unsalted nuts and seeds, fish (especially oily fish, such as salmon, trout and herring, at least twice per week) and vegetable oils; and

Limit cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day, for most people.  If you have coronary heart disease or your LDL cholesterol level is 100 mg/dL or greater, limit your cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams a day.

For example, a sedentary female who is 31–50 years old needs about 2,000 calories each day. Therefore, she should consume less than 15 g saturated fat, less than 2 g trans fat and between 56 and 77 grams of total fat each day (with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils).

Saturated Fat:

Saturated fat is found mostly in foods from animals and some plants. Foods from animals include beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cream, milk, cheeses and other dairy products made from whole and 2 percent milk. All of these foods also contain dietary cholesterol. Foods from plants that contain saturated fat include coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter.

Unsaturated Fat:

Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the two unsaturated fats. They’re found mainly in many fish, nuts, seeds and oils from plants. Some examples of foods that contain these fats include salmon, trout, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts and liquid vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive and sunflower.

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help lower your blood cholesterol level when you use them in place of saturated and trans fats. Keep total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

Trans-fats and hydrogenated fats:

During food processing, fats may undergo a chemical process called hydrogenation. This is common in margarine and shortening. These fats also raise blood cholesterol. The saturated fat content of margarines and spreads is printed on the package or Nutrition Facts label.

Unsaturated fatty acids can be in one of two shapes — “cis” and “trans.” These terms refer to the physical positioning of hydrogen atoms around the carbon chain. The cis form is more common than the trans form. Trans-fatty acids (TFA) are found in small amounts in various animal products such as beef, pork, lamb and the butterfat in butter and milk.

TFA are also formed during the process of hydrogenation, making margarine, shortening, cooking oils and the foods made from them a major source of TFA in the American diet. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils provide about three-fourths of the TFA in the U.S. diet. The trans fat content of foods is printed on the package of the Nutrition Facts label. Keep trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total calories. For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day, you should consume less than 2 grams of trans fat.

Trans-fatty acids are also formed during the process of hydrogenation. “Hydrogenate” means to add hydrogen. When unsaturated fatty acids are hydrogenated, some of the hydrogen atoms are added on opposite sides of the molecule to the already attached hydrogen. Cis double bonds convert to trans double bonds, and the fatty acids become saturated.

In clinical studies, TFA or hydrogenated fats tended to raise total blood cholesterol levels. Some scientists believe they raise cholesterol levels more than saturated fats. TFA also tend to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol when used instead of cis fatty acids or natural oils. These changes may increase the risk of heart disease.

Because there are no standard methods, it’s difficult to estimate the TFA content of food items. It’s also difficult to estimate intake, especially long-term intake. The four most important sources of TFA in one large group of women studied included margarine; beef, pork or lamb as the main dish; cookies (biscuits); and white bread.

As of January 2006, the FDA requires trans fat to be listed on the nutrition label. Although changes in labeling are important, they aren’t enough. Many fast foods contain high levels of TFA. There are no labeling regulations for fast food, and it can even be advertised as cholesterol-free and cooked in vegetable oil. Eating one doughnut at breakfast (3.2 g of TFA) and a large order of french fries at lunch (6.8 g of TFA) add 10 grams of TFA to one’s diet, so the lack of regulations for labeling restaurant foods can be harmful to your health.

Is butter better than margarine? Recent studies on the potential cholesterol-raising effects of TFA have raised public concern about the use of margarine and whether other options, including butter, might be a better choice. Some stick margarines contribute more TFA than unhydrogenated oils or other fats.

Because butter is rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s potentially a highly atherogenic food (a food that causes the arteries to be blocked). Most margarine is made from vegetable fat and provides no dietary cholesterol. The more liquid the margarine, i.e., tub or liquid forms, the less hydrogenated it is and the less TFA it contains.

The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee strongly advises that healthy Americans over age 2 limit their intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories.

Based on current data, the American Heart Association recommends that consumers follow these tips:

  • Choose a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, high-fiber foods, and fat-free and low-fat dairy most often.
  • Keep total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils most often.
  • Use naturally occurring, unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often.
  • Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils or saturated fat.
  • Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter, and choose soft margarines (liquid or tub varieties) over harder stick forms. Look for ”0 g trans fat” on the Nutrition Facts label. *Tip from Chef Kirsten – don’t just read the nutrition information, look at the ingredients. If you see trans-fat ingredients, even if it shows “0 g trans fat” on the label, choose a healthier product.
  • French fries, doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods that are high in trans fat. Don’t eat them often.
  • Limit the saturated fat in your diet. If you don’t eat a lot of saturated fat, you won’t be consuming a lot of trans fat.
  • Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Not only are these foods very high in fat, but that fat is also likely to be very hydrogenated, meaning a lot of trans fat.
  • Limited fried fast food. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats will continue to be made by hydrogenation and will contain saturated fat and trans fat.

According to the AHA It’s easier to gauge how much healthy and unhealthy food you are eating by using a food diary to keep track of what you eat for a period of time.”

There are many different ways to keep track of what you eat. We (the AHA) suggest that you write down the times you eat, the foods you eat, portion sizes (more or less), and make notes about what you were doing or feeling at the time.

At the end of the day, review your food list (Food Diary) and ask these questions: 

To control hunger:

• Did I eat three meals?

• Did I have filling foods (including water) with every meal or every snack?

• Did I eat at least  4-5 servings each of fruits and veggies?

To reduce calories:

• Did I keep portions smaller than my fist?

• Did I keep cooked meat, chicken, fish or shellfish to three ounces per portion (the size of a deck of cards)?

• What trade-offs can I make to cut calories?

• Did I eat when I was not hungry?

If yes, what was I feeling or doing that made me eat?


Here  is a link to a food diary you can print out from the AHA. I recommend using one for your menu planning, then another one to write down what you actually eat and your emotions to be able to look over it if you are not reaching your goals. Not reaching your goals? That is when you make changes if necessary as listed above, have your plan analyzed by a doctor, health or nutrition professional.

Understand Drug Therapy Options

According to the AHA for some people, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to reach healthy cholesterol levels. Your doctor may prescribe medication. It takes a team to develop and maintain a successful health program. You and your healthcare professionals each play an important role in maintaining and improving your heart health. Know how to talk with your doctor about your cholesterol levels and be sure you understand all instructions. Follow your plan carefully, especially when it comes to medication — it won’t work if you don’t take it as directed. And learn how to make diet and lifestyle changes easy and lasting.


Dr. Siecke emphasized how excess fat is a large factor in elevated cholesterol. Fat is not just a “dead” substance, or just aesthetically unappealing. Fat cells create inflammation and hormones that are very damaging. Achieving a healthy weight through a healthy lifestyle is crucial to keeping your heart healthy. That doesn’t mean you have to go on a strict diet. Living a healthy lifestyle while focusing on your health, not your weight, is the best way to shed excess pounds and keep them off for good. A diet is something you go on, then go off. Living a healthy lifestyle is forever, not just until you shed excess fat.


Cholesterol is not just a middle-age problem anymore.


Dr. Siecke talked to us about how 8, 9, 10 year old children are showing signs of high cholesterol due to poor lifestyle choices. He referenced research done on deceased 18 year olds from the Vietnam war that showed no signs of high cholesterol. Times sure have changed over the past couple of decades! We need to help our children live healthier lives NOW to help keep them healthy later. Once built up in the arteries, the plaque that causes Atherosclerosis and can lead to stroke and heart attack doesn’t disappear. The good news is just like adults, you can help keep your children’s cholesterol levels healthy (in addition to reducing the risk factors of developing Type 2 Diabetes and other  highly preventable health problems) by having our children lead the same healthy lifestyle listed above and hopefully modeling that lifestyle ourselves.

BetterU Greek

Dr. Seicke recommended the Mediterranean lifestyle as a great example of a heart-healthy lifestyle. (I sure agree!) The Mediterranean lifestyle entails:

  • Enjoying an abundance of vegetables and fruits
  • Enjoying  healthy fats such as olive oil
  • Enjoying healthy nuts such as almonds
  • Eating a limited amount of meat
  • Eating several servings of fish and seafood every week
  • Enjoying healthy carbohydrate choices such as legumes and whole grains (which happen to be gluten free)
  • Enjoying red wine in moderation
  • Enjoying meals slowly, surrounded by family and friends
  • Walking often

For more information head on over to the AHA website!

A very special thanks and much gratitude to Dr. Siecke for taking the time to come and meet with us and deliver such a wonderful, impactful message about our heart health.

Week 7 Action Items

Nutrition goals:

  • Analyze your food journals and reference the questions from above:To control hunger:Did I eat three meals?Did I have filling foods (including water) with every meal or every snack?

    Did I eat at least 4-5 servings each of fruits and veggies?

    To reduce calories: 

    Did I keep portions smaller than my fist?

    Did I keep cooked meat, chicken, fish or shellfish to three ounces per portion (the size of a deck of cards)?

    What trade-offs can I make to cut calories?

    Did I eat when I was not hungry?

    If yes, what was I feeling or doing that made me eat? Seek additional help if you need it.

  • Continue to celebrate every healthy choice you make, new healthy habits and identify a new healthy habit you want to go for next week.
  • Seek some new healthy recipes! Check out the AHA website for wonderful recipes!

Activity goals:

  • Keep planning your 150 minutes of movement every week then stick to your plan! Getting bored? Try something new!
  • Celebrate your successes so far!

Week 7 Highlights

  • Did you see the shout out on New Day NW featuring a few of our participants? Check out the segment….it’s short but sweet! Here is the link!
  • Kirsten’s recipe of the week: A Mediterranean lifestyle inspired Pan Seared Cod with Roasted Vegetables. I hope you enjoy this heart-healthy meal!  Click here for the recipe!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 7 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center

BetterU – Week 6 Information & Action Steps

Welcome to week 6 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Week 6

Week 6 focus: Breaking barriers

As you will see in the BetterU program book (which you are hopefully making time to sit down and explore and fill out weekly) this week we are talking about breaking barriers. It discusses physical activity as good medicine, how many calories certain activities burn, a little bit about breaking the barriers and how to be an empowered shopper. Since we have gone into most of this over the past few weeks in-depth, (take a look at all of the information shared so far in the previous weeks by clicking the links on the right of this post) I chose to cover more in-depth one of the biggest keys to change that we haven’t gone into…breaking barriers.

I’ve talked about identifying our barriers before, how important it is, writing these barriers down once we identify them, then writing down how you plan to move past them, or deal with them the next time they come up.


When our guest speaker Kat Kim asked how many of us journal I only saw a few hands raised. That is why I brought her in, to reinforce how important this is…well, that and all of the other wonderful things she shared!

(FYI: At this time Kat is having some technical issues with her computer. Her blog post will be up as soon as possible!)

Every week at the end of the chapter in your book you see the empty pages for you to fill out. I also send out in the weekly action items to journal what you are eating. Several weeks I have talked about how important it is to write down not only what you are eating, but also what you are feeling, any negative self-talk, what may be going on to cause this and to sit down and take the time to also write out how you are going to change this.

Remember…change requires change. If you are going to successfully change your lifestyle, lower your numbers to help your heart (and yes, while my focus isn’t on the weight, it is important to have a healthy weight and all of your efforts to lower your other numbers will eventually lead to a healthier weight) or just bring about great things in your life YOU have the power to create this change. When we write down and identify these challenges or even the things you are celebrating, you are changing the way your brain and in turn your body react. If you do the same thing over and over with no results…something has to change. 🙂 Positive change doesn’t usually occur on it’s own, we have to make it happen and we are meant to!

Kat Kim

Kat Kim is a life coach, speaker, mindset-transformation specialist and much more. She shared with us the mind-body connection between lifestyle change (including weight-loss) and in society what we are all conditioned to do only affects the tip of the iceberg….this is why change is often times temporary. To truly change our bodies, we have to change our minds and identify and heal the other 80% that is underneath that iceberg that we don’t see. We are all action-oriented: Diet! Eat Better! Workout more! Take diet pills to get skinny! What is the next get-skinny-quick scheme that just takes your money because it never really identifies the issues? None of it leads to permanent change without dealing with the under side of that iceberg…what goes on inside of our minds.

How you talk to yourself, how you were raised, ideas you formed as a child based upon what you were told: “we are the fat family; people in our family are just big; you’re fat; why don’t you look like everyone else; what is wrong with you”. Kat shared with us that she formed many ideas about herself as a very young child that was given diet pills by her mother. This made her feel she wasn’t good enough and it led to a lot of destructive behavior, just like many of us.

Being destructive by overeating junk food, stuffing down feelings with binge eating, destructive self-talk, getting involved in unhealthy relationships, all because we don’t value ourselves. Respecting your core values and respecting yourself means you want to take care of yourself, you want to put out good energy which will in turn return good energy.

What you think about, you bring about.

We also attract what we think: think negative (“I look so gross, I am so fat, I’ll never lose this weight”)you will in turn feel negative (“I hate how I look) which then turns to behaving negative (“I may as well eat this cake, who cares I’m not good enough anyway and nothing is going to change” and then leads to the outcome of attracting negative things (weight gain and an unhealthy body from the destructive thinking) as well as negative people (people that continually bring you down). You can turn this around with your thoughts too. This is what changed my life and helped me transform my health, lifestyle and weight. It is also what the key change is for most people who have successfully changed their lives for the better, not only through weight loss and improved health, but also those that have received more success, healthy relationships and more. Kat herself created a transformation in her life and not only lost 30 pounds, she completely created a new life for herself.

Here is Kat’s diagram on creating positive change: Thoughts > Feelings > Behavior > Outcome.

The day you signed up for this program or started following on the blog, you made a step to change your lifestyle and get healthy. You may have had thoughts of apprehension, skepticism or possibly hope and excitement. The thoughts you had may well be determining your success at creating your healthy new lifestyle. I urge you to reflect on your thoughts and practice positive self-talk and positive thinking.

Of course… it comes again….take time to journal. Reflect. Identify issues and then identify solutions. Journal your thoughts and how it is affecting your feelings and behavior. Then work through breaking past the barriers and identifying positive thoughts, how this may change how you feel and in turn affect your behavior and outcome!

Every thought is a cause and every condition an effect. ~C.F.Haanel

One more thing Kat talked about that generated a lot of buzz in the room: take time for yourself. This not only helps you, it also helps you become a better person for everyone else. You put out better energy, are more attractive to be around and will likely take better care of yourself when you take the time to respect YOU.

Week 6 Action Items

Action items from the BetterU program book,  plus a couple of extra recommendations from me:

  • Journal – not only your food and movement, but how you are thinking and feeling at the time. Identify negatives and try to create positive thoughts instead. How are you feeling about what you ate? If it was a not-so-healthy choice, identify what you were feeling that brought about that behavior (tired? unsatisfied? emotional?) and then <first of all don’t beat yourself up about it> identify how you can break that barrier and make a healthier choice the next time (maybe you were tired and have been busy and didn’t schedule the time to menu plan and shop so you will create that time the following week, maybe you grabbed a candy bar at the checkout counter and wolfed it down because you were feeling stressed out about something that you need to identify and work through instead of stuffing your feelings with a candy bar, etc.)
  • Schedule time for yourself
  • Take the time to go back through the all of the blog posts and information from the past 6 weeks and see if there are some things you want to work on this week that you haven’t made the time to focus on.
  • Make time to make your log and review it.

Activity goals:

  • Keep up your goal of achieving 150 minutes of physical activity every week!
  • In addition to reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke, physical activity can prevent other chronic diseases and premature death. It can also increase your fitness and energy levels, improve mental health, reduce stress and enable you to carry out your daily activities with greater ease and enjoyment. Just choose the benefits that are important to you and use them as motivation to get moving!
  • Celebrate your successes so far!

Nutrition goals:

  • Keep up the great work on what you’re already doing! Small changes can have a big impact on your numbers!
  • Add one new healthy thing you want to try this week (got water intake down? Try eating one more vegetarian meal this week; doing great getting the right servings of the right foods? Try looking for a few new recipes you’re excited to try that are within your skill level. The internet is FULL of ideas for everyone!)
  • Keep sitting down once a week to meal plan and schedule your activity. Again this is a HUGE KEY TO SUCCESS!

Week 6 Highlights

  • Great news from one of the partipants: While she has been transitioning her family to a healthier lifestyle, her daughter has had the added bonus of shedding 5 pounds so far! This is so wonderful…the effects of living a healthy life often spread and you can help others by being a positive example of a healthy lifestyle!
  • Many of us are planning on attending the Celebration of Food Festival 2013, brought to us by the Food Revolution Snohomish County. If you’re in the Lynnwood/Seattle/Snohomish area I hope you’ll attend this wonderful event to celebrate and learn about delicious, local, wholesome food! One of the generous sponsors of this event happens to be one of our generous sponsors as well. Thank you Verdant Health Commission for all you do!
  • The participants are doing so wonderful and the small positive changes they are making every week are starting to really show through! Not only some weight loss, but just a lot of talk of just feeling better, having more energy and feeling great about their choices. Half-way through the challenge but the beginning of their long, healthy lives!
  • Kirsten’s recipe of the week: Pasta “Caponesca”.   Yep, I made up the word when I made up the recipe. 🙂 I hope you enjoy…SO good! Click here for the recipe!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 6 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center