Thank you for making a commitment to a BetterU!
Welcome to week 2 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)
Reducing your risk factors. Last week here at the live presentation of the BetterU Challenge in the Lynnwood area, the 50 participants all had biometric health screenings to determine their risk factors for heart disease. If you are following along at home consider getting your numbers (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, weight) checked to see where you personally can improve your heart health. At the very least you can get your blood pressure tested for free at many pharmacies and fire stations. Once you have your numbers you can plug them in at the Go Red Heart Checkup online tool and get a personalized action plan.
Now that we have the results, everyone knows where they personally can improve. Every day choices can greatly improve these numbers and reduce your risk for heart disease and other lifestyle-related diseases. Our focus during this program is to improve these numbers over the remaining 10 weeks and learn how to make continual small improvements in our lives to live for a healthier future and slash our risk of heart disease and stroke.
You can download the BetterU Week 2 PDF file here to learn more about risk factors we can and can’t control, questions to ask your doctor, (did you know that studies show many doctors don’t talk to their female patients about heart disease, yet it is the #1 killer of women?) some small daily changes that can add up to improved numbers and some great recipes and healthy cooking tips!
This week during the class Dr. Siecke delivered a wonderful presentation about heart disease, from a doctor’s point of view. He helped us see what is happening in the body when blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar numbers are not in the normal range. I know for me, seeing this has really helped me make better choices.
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 (especially fat around the abdomen) 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.
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, impacting message about our heart health.
HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK AND CONGRATULATIONS ON WEEK 2 TOWARDS A BETTERU!
Special thanks to our sponsors:
Verdant Health Commission
Lynnwood Recreation Center