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


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