BetterU – Week 4 Information & Action Steps

Welcome to week 4 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Week 4

Week 4 already, can you believe it!? They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit that you will likely stick to. So for many of us we hopefully have formed some healthy new habits that will help us be a Better US for life, not just the 12 weeks of this program. Drinking more water? Making movement a part of your life, aiming for 150 minutes per week? Choosing more unprocessed foods than before? Lifting some weights or doing some stomach exercises while you watch tv? All of these small changes add up to lowering your risk for heart disease and you will be adding years to your life!

Of course its nice to feel healthier and look healthier on the outside too. Some of you are losing pounds, others are not seeing the scale budge but are feeling like their clothes are fitting better, still some are not seeing any difference at all yet. The important thing to know is that the REAL change is going on inside of your body and will eventually transpire on the outside. Don’t focus on a number on the scale or what you look like on the outside. Respect and love your body as it is, keep honoring your life by taking care of your body. Change will take place on the outside…believe me!

When I was over 100 pounds overweight I stopped worrying about the numbers on the scale and instead focused on keeping my heart healthy and loving my body enough to care for it, to live a long, vibrant life, no matter what size pants I was wearing, I eventually stepped onto that scale and saw the numbers going down and got to buy new clothes as the old ones started literally falling off of me. It was a nice side effect, believe me. Going shopping for the first time NOT in the plus size department, being able to throw on a dress and feel confident, seeing my true shape come forward…I have to admit, it was fun!

BetterU heartBut the real deal for me was going to the doctor for the first time after losing about 40 pounds. The last time I had been to the doctor I was pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides. I was 25 years old and was told by the doctor that I would be needing medication to control these issues very soon if I didn’t do something about it. This time I had my blood work done and anxiously awaited the results in the mail. I got my first good news immediately as I stepped on the scale and saw that my weight was 40 pounds less than the year prior. My doctor told me that I was now out of the obese category on the BMI charts and was now in the middle of the overweight category. I was so excited! Not necessarily about the weight loss, although I was shocked because I hadn’t been trying to lose weight, I was just living for a healthy future. Mainly because I knew the health risks drop drastically as you shift out of the obese category. Now I just had to wait for my lab work. The day came and I opened the letter apprehensively. The first thing I noticed was a smiley face. I looked at my results and ran to the computer to look up the optimal numbers…..all of my lab results were in the optimal range. Yes I was still considered overweight at about 190 pounds, but my heart was healthier. Not only my heart but my entire body was being treated right and it was showing. This was the motivation I needed to continue living this lifestyle.

Now I continue not only to continue striving for my ultimate goal, my vision of being an elderly woman who is fit and active and swinging my grandchildren around, but also because I FEEL so good. This is the way my body is meant to be treated and I am honoring it every day through the choices I make. Delicious foods that are good for my body. Getting movement in several times a week and just being generally more active. Sleeping well. Not experiencing intestinal distress all of the time like I used to. Less illness. Why would I not continue? This is a lifestyle, not a diet. This is the way we are meant to treat our bodies.

My point to all of this is that in my first 21 days I created the majority of the habits that led to my over 100 pound weightloss and heart-healthy lifestyle. Then I just continued on and added a few more healthy habits here and there. Not an overnight complete lifestyle flip, just small changes everyday. Here we are just past the 21 day mark and you have likely made changes that will lead to a longer, healthier life yourself. If not, lets get started now. 🙂

You can download the BetterU Week 4 PDF file here.

BetterU team handsWeek 4 focus: Surround yourself with support

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 building TeamU – your support system. Not just for the duration of this program, but for life.

For those in a marriage/relationship/partnership/family it is wonderful to get the whole family on board so you are all in the same mindset and living a healthy life together. This is really helpful and hopefully seeing the changes you are making will make everyone eventually want to get on board. If this isn’t your situation then grabbing a friend, co-worker, online accountability partner, sister, mother, brother, family member…ANYONE that helps support YOU is a great thing to do.

You will likely need several kinds of support. Who in your life qualifies to fill these rolls?

  • Informational – Provides helpful information and suggestions on health, nutrition and physical activity. Who in your life fills this roll? Chef Kirsten’s tips for resources: Great educational and research-based health websites you read often, nutrition consultant, health magazines, books, etc.
  • Emotional – Motivate and encourage you to keep going on the road to heart health. Who in your life fills this roll?
  • Participant – Performs activities with you. A workout buddy or accountability partner. Who in your life fills this roll? Chef Kirsten’s tip: Be this person for someone else too, it helps YOU stay accountable as well when you know someone is counting on you and looking up to you! For me this is my roll everyday as a mother.
  • Logistics – Handle practical assistance like child care, transportation and other tasks so you can make time for yourself. Who in your life fills this roll?

Choosing to change is wonderful…now we need to actually MAKE the change! Every step in the right direction is huge. Here are some tips:

  • Build on past success. What motivated you to make the change? How did you feel when you reached your goal?
  • Keep your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Appropriate and Realistic) with a time frame. How are your goals? Maybe you are doing great or maybe you need to reassess your goals from week 1. That is okay! Go ahead and do that.
  • Count on TeamU. How are your supporters helping you? Do you need to find more support? Who can YOU support? Go Red Heart Match program is a great way to find online support from women just like you! Click here to be matched with an online or local person to help you if you need additional support!
  • Commit to change. How can you make YOU a priority?

Healthy activities can be more fun if you do them WITH your support team.

This week I had so much fun walking with all of the participants of the BetterU program we are facilitating here locally in the Lynnwood area! We chatted, laughed, shared successes and challenges all while walking together and strengthening our hearts. Here are other shared activities that are fun to do with a friend or member of your support team:

  • Get a walking partner or start a walking club in your neighborhood or at work.
  • Play active games or go on a bike ride.
  • Walk your dog (furry friends can be supporters).
  • Participate in local charity walks like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk! Here is the link to join and here is some information from our very own Brandi Aubrey: “You are invited to join the Go Red For Women Team for the Seattle Heart & Stroke Walk. It is on Saturday, October 26th, a 3 mile walk, starting & ending at the Space Needle. It is free to register, and although it is a fundraising event, you do not need to do any fundraising if you do not want to. Feel free to share this link to ask your friends & family to join us walking that day! All ages and abilities are welcome…and you can even bring your dog too! This is a great goal for all of us to set! Let’s all work on walking together again on October 26th for Women’s Heart Health!” Brandi and I are walking along with Cherish and many other Go Red supporters and volunteers. We hope you will join us! Lets get a big group – if not all of us – BetterU members together to show them the progress we have all made with the BetterU program and continuing on our own!
  • Organize a heart-healthy potluck lunch or dinner party.
  • Go to farmers markets to find in-season fruits and vegetables. Chef Kirsten’s tip: This is a great time to get together with friends or family. While you’re at the market grab a few items and make a picnic. Go for a walk then sit down and enjoy the delicious fresh foods and company together.

BetterU women runningMuscle up!

Women need two types of physical activity to improve fitness.

  1. Endurance
  2. Muscular

Endurance activities include walking, jogging or cardio workouts.

Muscular activity is not designed to make you “bulk up” like a bodybuilder. It simply helps you meet the demands of your daily life. Climbing stairs, carrying groceries or lifting children take muscle. Chef Kirsten’s tip: Building muscle also helps you support your bones and keep you strong and healthy well into your advancing years. Less fracture, improved bone density and just having the ability to get around better are all benefits of keeping your muscles strong.

To build muscular fitness, women should do resistance exercises at least two times each week. Make sure the exercises are moderate to high intensity. Here are some tips:

  • Use hand weights, resistance bands, weight machines or your own body weight. Chef Kirsten’s tip: Like we have been talking about in the class, if this is new to you start by doing some of the exercises that ANYONE can do that we discussed in Week 3. No time to get to the gym? No problem! These exercises can truly be done in about 10 minutes. Do them while watching tv, during your break at work, next to the bed before going to sleep, while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. Fit it in anywhere, you can find 10 minutes!
  • Pick a weight that causes fatigue after eight to 12 repetitions.
  • Focus on the muscle group you are working and maintain control during exercises.
  • Make sure you know how to do the exercise correctly. (Again, refer to Week 3 for tips on this.)

Week 4 Action Items

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

  • Track your success. Whether you use an app, a computer program or a good old-fashioned little notebook (my personal preference because I don’t make the time to sit down to log everything in, but is great to do to begin with to get an idea of calorie intake.) Just write it down. Write down your activity and your food intake. Get in this habit for accountability and to be able to look back to see where you may be having some slip-ups and identify why.
  • Focus on behaviors you want to change.
  • Make time to make your log and review it.

Activity goals:

  • Weeks 1-5: Record what you’ve been doing and what you plan to do this week and week 5:I am building endurance by: fill in the blank in your BetterU program book or in your journal. Include when, where, how long.

    I am building muscle by: fill in the blank in your BetterU program book or in your journal. Include when, where, how long.

    Weeks 6-12: Record what you want to be doing, adding new goals if necessary, for what you plan to do weeks 6-12:

    I am building endurance by: fill in the blank in your BetterU program book or in your journal. Include when, where, how long.

    I am building muscle by: fill in the blank in your BetterU program book or in your journal. Include when, where, how long.

  • 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!

BetterU fruits and veggies

Week 4 Highlights

  • This week we went on a one-mile or 30 minute walk near where we have our meetings. Almost 50 of us got out on the street and walked up around the neighborhood! Everyone went their own pace and met some new people. When we got back you could feel the exercise-induced elation in the air…treating our bodies to movement feels GOOD!
  • The women are forming a lot of workout partnerships or buddies, creating their TeamU!
  • Every week everyone is sharing their successes, we can’t wait to share the numbers with all of you!
  • Many of the participants are finding they are buying a LOT more fresh fruits and vegetables than they ever have about you? I was asked for tips about storing these fruits and veggies, here is a great resource!
  • Kirsten’s recipe of the week: Chicken Tikka Masala over Curried Cabbage Ribbons. To make this heart healthy use light coconut milk and enjoy this satisfying, easy and delicious meal!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 4 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center


1 thought on “BetterU – Week 4 Information & Action Steps

  1. Pingback: BetterU – Week 5 Information & Action Steps | Stories From the Heart

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