Welcome to week 12 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)
Congratulations on completing this 12-week jump start into a healthier lifestyle!
Whether you have already made drastic changes to your lifestyle, or perhaps you’re taking it slowly and incorporating one new thing every week or two, either way you have improved your health and believe me, this all adds up!
Let’s go over the tools and knowledge you have acquired over the past 12 weeks:
- Identifying your personal benefits and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. Creating a plan of action with SMART goals.
- Making small, simple changes to your lifestyle to be more active and eat healthier foods. Adding, removing or replacing ingredients to make your favorite recipes healthier.
- Getting in the valuable habit of tracking physical activity and foods in this journal or your own personal journal or mobile phone/online tracker. Fitting physical activity in at home, work and when traveling. Making healthy choices when eating away from home.
- Building a support team. Learning the importance of and incorporating strength/resistance exercises if you weren’t already.
- Knowing your BMI (body mass index). Making over your weight (knowing your calorie needs, setting a weight-loss goal if necessary.)
- Knowing physical activity recommendations. Distinguishing low, moderate and vigorous activities. Shopping heart-smart at the grocery store.
- Knowing appropriate levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Identifying behaviors you can change to control your cholesterol.
- Knowing appropriate levels of blood pressure. Managing your stress.
- Learning about diabetes. Using exercise to reduce your risk for diabetes.
- Checking your family history for heart disease and risk factors. Encouraging your family to make heart-healthy choices.
- Knowing the risks associated with smoking and secondhand smoke. Advocating for a smoke-free community.
- Advocating for women’s heart health. Finding new opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating. Celebrating how far you have come!
This is not the end. This is the beginning, or the continuation of your heart-healthy new lifestyle. Keep on learning and improving. Keep setting SMART goals and continue to keep your eye on the ultimate prize: a long, healthy and vibrant life.
Life happens. You will have slip-ups. This doesn’t mean you give up! This means you go back to your program book and create your new plan of action. Do you need to get back on track with journaling? Do you need to make time for healthy menu planning and shopping? Do you need to learn some new inspiring recipes? Do you need to create a plan of action for your fitness if you’re not treating your heart to 150 minutes every week? Get back on track right away. Don’t beat yourself up. We will make mistakes or eat a few too many cookies, or skip working out some weeks. This is an opportunity to make new goals and get back on track!
Stop – if you’re tempted to make a choice that doesn’t support your commitment to honoring your life, your body, your active lifestyle and healthy eating.
Think – about the benefits you are enjoying from new, healthy habits. Remind yourself why your eating and physical activity choices are important.
Choose – the best solution. Whether you’re having a high-fat snack attack or you want to skip exercising after a long day – you’ll feel better if you choose the healthier option.
The results are so inspiring! YAY all of YOU!!! In just 12 weeks, this is what the participants of the 2013 BetterU program have accomplished: (*Based on 35 out of 50 total participants that we were able to get before and after lab work on)
- Fruit intake increased from an average of 1.8 cups a day to 2.4
- Vegetable intake increased from an average of 1.8 cups a day to 2.5
- The number of people that eat 2 servings of fish a week doubled from 9 to 18
- 59% improvement in sugar sweetened beverage intake, from 22 that limited it to EVERYONE!
- 45% improvement in limiting sodium
- Total cholesterol average was reduced by 25 points! We even had some 50+ point drops!
- Glucose average was reduced by 10 points. We had some women with dramatically reduced blood sugar levels!
- Participants lost an average of 3.1 pounds. We had 2 almost 20 pound weight losses in the group!
- There was a 4% improvement in My Life Check score overall from 7.2 to 7.5
We celebrated this final weekly get together by sharing a meal together. Participants brought some healthy and delicious potluck style meals and I have to say…it was DELICIOUS! King5 HealthLInk was there to capture the tears, celebrations and testimonies to the participants successes and lifestyle changes. I can’t wait for it to air, we’ll update this as soon as we get the footage!
Where to go from here:
Keep up the lifestyle and pat yourself on the back every day for being a heart-healthy individual. Now you can help others do the same and even help save lives!
- Advocacy is the process of supporting a cause. If women’s heart health is important to you, raise awareness and get involved in the Go Red For Women cause. Donate time. Send a letter to your congressperson to encourage him/her to cosponsor the HEART for Women Act to raise awareness among women and their healthcare providers.
- Tell five women in your workplace, your family and your community about Go Red for Women.
- Raise money. Get involved in the American Heart Association’s fundraising activities for education and research related to heart disease and stroke. Visit GoRedForWomen.org for information and ideas on ways to get started. Walk with us in the Heart Walk! To join the Go Red for Women team, search “Join a team”, then “American Heart Association” then “Go Red for Women”
- Wear red on National Wear Red Day in February and raise funds for American Heart Association efforts to help women by offering educational programs, advancing their understanding about their risk factors for heart disease, and providing tools and motivation to reduce their risk and protect their health.
- Shop. Encourage your friends to visit the American Heart Association’s Go Red Shop (ShopGoRed.com). It’s a great way to raise money and awareness for this important issue.
- Share your stories from the heart. Share with friends and family and visit GoRedForWomen.org to tell people about your accomplishments. Connect with others who choose to be heart healthy. Learn from other women’s experiences and provide support. Sharing your story is a great way to help yourself and others.
Make it YOUR mission to fight heart disease in women by continuously improving your health!
Week 12 Highlights
- Here are some of the healthy recipes from the participants potluck!
Chef Kirsten’s creamy green chicken enchilada casserole:
2 tsp healthy oil/fat of your choice
1 lb ground chicken breast, or chopped cubed chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch Kosher/sea salt
2 tsp dried chili powder
2 tsp dried cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 jar (about 2 cups) all-natural green salsa
½ cup lowfat sour cream or plain yogurt
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
12 small corn tortillas
1 cup lowfat shredded cheese
Garnishes: fresh chopped cilantro and/or chopped green onions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or you can assemble this in a slow cooker and keep on low for the perfect potluck meal!
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, when hot add oil, swirl to coat. Add the chicken, vegetables and seasonings. Cook until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (I recommend adding the garlic in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking for the most flavor). Turn off the heat and add the salsa, sour cream and black beans, stir to combine. Place a bit of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish or the bottom of the slow cooker. Tear 3 tortillas to fit roughly into the bottom. Add more sauce and the cheese. Continue layering until all of the ingredients have been used up, ending with the sauce and cheese on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, turn on the slow cooker and keep for up to 4 hours, OR freeze at this point to bake later. Serve and enjoy!
Brandi Aubrey’s Mediterranean chicken, rice and artichoke salad:
3 Tb red wine vinegar
2 Tb olive oil
¼ tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 large clove garlic, pressed or chopped
3 cups cooked brown long-grain or basmati rice – room temperature or cooler
1 ½ cups cooked chicken breast, cubed (about 6 oz.)
½ cup drained, diced, bottled roasted red bell peppers
¼ cup medium pitted ripe olives drained and halved, or kalamata olives pitted and halved
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh Greek oregano
14 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well
In a small bowl combine vinegar, oil, pepper and garlic. Set dressing aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and stir well until blended.
Brandi Aubrey’s Dark Chocolate Stuffed Raspberries – YUM!
Asian-style dressing for chicken salad
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup sesame oil
2 Tb soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Whisk in ¾ cup olive oil.
Makes 1 ¼ cups dressing. This was delicious! Served tossed with chopped cooked chicken, carrots and green onions and served up in lettuce cups.
Sue Ferguson brought this delicious Chicken, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker recipe, from the American Heart Association Slow Cooker Recipe book you can purchase by clicking here.
Sue also showed us these wonderful spoons available on Amazon.com. They have serving sizes right on them! Find out more here.
Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 12 – and a lifetime working on a BetterU!
I want to thank the American Heart Association Puget Sound chapter for this amazing opportunity to watch the participants go through this amazing process. If I can be of any service to you, please contact me over at MesadeVida.com!
Special thanks to our sponsors: