BetterU 2014 – Week 10

Welcome to week 10 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Special thanks to Marni Hughes and Q13 Fox News – they are helping spread the word about the Go Red BetterU program! We are looking to help YOU participate right along with us. Are you going to join in on the BetterU program with us? If so we are honored to have you here! Leave messages below to say Hi, ask questions and shout it out that you’re doing the #GoRedBetterU program on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and more!

Here  is the link to the segment on Q13 news with from May 20, 2014. Chef Kirsten discusses the BetterU program information focusing on diabetes management and prevention. She’ll be making a delicious heart-healthy apple crumble dessert! Catch up with Shirley and Kristi this week as well! Here (to be updated after airing May 29) are some clips from their video diaries. Here is the recipe for Chef Kirsten’s healthified pizza night ideas from the segment on Q13!

 

Week 10

Week 10 is focused on family history.

What is your family history?

Major risk factorsthose that research has shown significantly increase the risk of heart disease. The more factors you have, the greater your chances of developing it. Number 3 is the genetics. The first three risk factors we cannot change. The rest we can.

Non-Modifiable – these risk factors cannot be changed:

  • Age – As we get older, our risk for heart disease increase. From the AHA: About 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are more likely than men are to die from them within a few weeks. From the NIH:  This is in part due to the slow build up of plaque inside your heart arteries, which can start in childhood. Before age 55, women have a lower risk for heart disease in part due to estrogen. After the age 55, the risks go up for women and men. A large part of this increase as we age is also from the increase in other risk factors, below.
  • Gender – From the AHA: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life. Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, it’s not as great as men’s. *Heart disease still kills 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 3 men.
  • Family history – From the AHA: Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Most people with a strong family history of heart disease have one or more other risk factors. Just as you can’t control your age, sex and race, you can’t control your family history.

Modifiable – Any person can make changes to these risk factors, even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. We’ve been focusing on how to help create positive change in all of these areas through the BetterU program:

  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obsesity and overweight
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

Am I making an effort or making excuses?”  

I grew up with a family history of heart disease. I always heard the phrase “It’s how we all are, we have a high rate of heart disease.” Genetics do play a role in determining your risk factors for heart disease, stroke and your health in general.  Some of us are genetically predisposed. Do you have a family history of these health issues in family members that are the pictures of health, or perhaps born with heart conditions? Then living a healthy lifestyle is extremely important.  Heart disease may be in your genes, but healthy habits can help you and your family avoid the risks.

More often than not, a family history of heart disease, stroke and other health issues come from an unhealthy lifestyle that is being handed down generation to generation.  Do you have a family history of these health issues in family members that may be overweight or obese, smokers, eat an unhealthy diet, have lack of exercise or have stressful lives? Then living a healthy lifestyle is extremely important. I know this is the case for me.

When the phrase “It’s how we all are, we have a high rate of heart disease.” was made, it was almost as an excuse for “how we were”: overweight, living an unhealthy sedentary and high stress lifestyle. Dr. Siecke made that point in week 2 when introducing the topic, I mentioned that my family had a large rate of high cholesterol. He asked “do they also have a high rate of obesity and eating unhealthy?” I, like many Americans, had previously used this as an excuse for how I was, almost accepting my fate that I would too get heart disease and that it was something I couldn’t control. My health and the health of my family was largely under our control. We just had to make some lifestyle changes.

Common excuses – These are the top barriers named from a recent survey of visitors to the American Heart Association heart.org website:

  • Costs too much to eat healthy” – Think again! Here are some tips to help you save money and time: heart.org/healthytips and Week 2 on the blog: https://myheartmylifemywalk.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/betteru-week-2-information-and-action-steps/
  • “Don’t want to stop eating the foods I like”  – Then don’t! Just find healthy ways to prepare them. Check out http://www.heart.org/recipes for inspiration!
  • “Don’t like exercising” – Keep trying! Anything is better than nothing and continually work towards your goal of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
  • “Too busy taking care of others to take care of myself” – To do our best for our loved ones, we must make an effort to be in the best possible health ourselves. Check out: http://www.heart.org/caringforyourself
  •  “Don’t really have time to exercise regularly” – Don’t worry! 10 minutes, 3 times a day is all it takes!” *From Chef Kirsten: This is how I reduced my modifiable risk factors and helped me lose over 100 pounds!* See: heart.org/take10
  •  “I don’t really know how to take care of my heart” – The BetterU program book and blog are giving you all of the information you can use to take care of your heart! The AHA website also has all of the heart-health information you need: http://www.heart.org/conditions. Also back to those Simple 7! http://www.Heart.org/makinganeffort

If I have a family history, what can I do about it?

 

According to the AHA:  Your family history provides a picture of the environment and genetics in place when these diseases occurred. “You can’t counteract your genetics,” Dr. Kraus said, and so if you have a history you must do what you can to change your environment. That means lowering your risk by changing behaviors that can increase your chances of getting heart disease or stroke. “It’s good, healthy living – the more that can be ingrained in your family, the more impact it has,” Dr. Kraus said. “A patient should encourage better eating habits, physical activity and eliminating smoking.”

Being a part of the BetterU health challenge and implementing the tools and knowledge into your new healthy lifestyle means YOU are reducing your risk factors! According to the AHA: Just because your family has a history of cardiovascular disease, does not mean that you will certainly have the same diseases, it just means that you are more likely to have them. Disease is not imminent, and your health can be controlled by making lifestyle changes.Even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Implement a new action step from the BetterU program every week, or improve upon them continually. You are doing a wonderful job at lowering your risks for heart disease by continually improving your lifestyle!

 

Make health YOUR family’s priority: Let’s start creating new healthier branches on the family tree!

 

  • Put your health first. Many women use the excuse of putting the needs of their family first as a way to rationalize not making healthy choices. Or, they simply don’t think about themselves at all. It is important that family members see you taking time to exercise or slowing down to enjoy a healthy meal. Remember, you cannot take care of others without taking care of you.
  • Be a role model. Like it or not, your habits influence your family and friends. Make a commitment to do the health habits that you want to see in your family. When it comes to health, it is important to practice what you preach. If it’s better for you, it’s better for your family.
  • Become a heart-healthy family. Incorporate the following activities into your family’s schedule:
  1. Set aside time for everyone to get moving together, take walks, ride bikes or garden.
  2. Limit screen time. Unplug from computers, phones, television and video games.
  3. Involve all family members in planning and preparing meals. Try new recipes and modify old favorites to be heart-healthy.
  4. Make mealtime family time. Focus on being together and encourage conversation. Set an example of eating slowly and with awareness. Everyone can develop good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
  5. Find fun ways to educate kids about heart health. Incorporate health into vocabulary words, science projects, crafts… the possibilities are endless.
  6. Ensure that each family member receives good healthcare including preventive exams and check-ups.
  7. Get involved. The Heart Walk, Jump Rope for Heart and other active fund-raising events provide good opportunities for families to practice heart-healthy behaviors and support education and research on heart disease and stroke.
  8. Join the American Heart Association in their efforts to combat childhood obesity. Learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (https://www.healthiergeneration.org/)  to help kids and families get healthy.

For more information about family history, head over to the AHA sitehttp://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Family-History-and-Heart-Disease-Stroke_UCM_442849_Article.jsp.

Notes from the meetings:

This week the ladies are having a private CPR lesson (not certification) from the firefighters from the Lynnwood fire department.

Did you know that 80% of sudden cardiac arrests happen at home? So you are most likely to use CPR on a family member or loved one.

 

To get a refresher on how to perform CPR yourself, or to teach your children, including how to get certified please click over to learn more from the American Heart Association.

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 10 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center

 

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BetterU 2014 – Week 9

Welcome to week 9 of the BetterU Challenge! (New here or want to find out more about this program? Jump back to the week 1 information here!)

Special thanks to Marni Hughes and Q13 Fox News – they are helping spread the word about the Go Red BetterU program! We are looking to help YOU participate right along with us. Are you going to join in on the BetterU program with us? If so we are honored to have you here! Leave messages below to say Hi, ask questions and shout it out that you’re doing the #GoRedBetterU program on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and more!

Here  is the link to the segment on Q13 news with from May 20, 2014. Chef Kirsten discusses the BetterU program information focusing on diabetes management and prevention. She’ll be making a delicious heart-healthy apple crumble dessert! Catch up with Shirley and Kristi this week as well! Here are some clips from their video diaries. Here is the recipe for Chef Kirsten’s One-Pan low-sugar apple crumble from the segment on Q13!

 

Week 9

Week 9 of the BetterU 12-week health challenge…can you believe it! Reflect on the positive changes you have made in your lifestyle since starting this challenge 9 weeks ago. You’ve come a long way baby!

Little changes, big changes, a complete lifestyle overhaul…whatever you have done, congratulate yourself and think about the impact that change, no matter how small, will impact your heart health. It has been a wonderful thing to witness!
This week the focus of the BetterU challenge is on diabetes . Most of us know, or we ourselves are affected by diabetes.
I was diagnosed as having pre-diabetes when I was in my early 20’s, over 100 pounds overweight and also having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides. The number that scared me the most was my blood sugar. I have a family history of diabetes (also a history of obesity, heart disease and other lifestyle related conditions) and I remember watching my dad have to poke his fingers several times every day to monitor his blood sugar, checking his feet for circulation issues and other conditions brought on by diabetes. I didn’t want to live like that. I carried a lot of weight in my stomach (which plays a part in developing chronic inflammation in the body), I had a dark ring around my neck which is a common sign of insulin resistance, (they can also appear on knuckles, elbows, knees and armpits) and in combination with the high triglycerides and other numbers, I knew for certain that if I didn’t make some changes I was heading right for diabetes. The good news is it is largely controllable through lifestyle choices, I got mine under control within about one month when I began living a heart-healthy lifestyle! Implementing what we are learning in the BetterU program every week can help you lower your risk factors, or manage your diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Being diagnosed as having diabetes means your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or your body can’t use it’s own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up too high in your blood.

When you eat, most of the food you eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for your body to use for energy. Your body then uses insulin, a necessary hormone, to convert that glucose into energy and help get the glucose into your body’s cells.

“When we eat foods high in refined carbohydrates, insulin levels surge to remove the sugar from the blood and get it into your cells. This mechanism works very well for the most part. But if insulin spikes too often from a diet rich in the high-carb foods that trigger insulin secretion, your cells respond by decreasing the reactivity and number of insulin receptors on their surfaces. Eventually, this prevents glucose from getting into your cells, leading to high blood sugar and depriving your cells of the energy they need to function.  Down the road, your body’s capacity to generate insulin appropriately becomes depleted, and the result is type 2 diabetes.” (From WomentoWomen.com)

From the AHA: Type 2 is the most common. About 90 percent to 95 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It most often develops in middle-aged and older adults. It’s often linked with being overweight, obese and physically inactive. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin and doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it makes (insulin resistance).

Type 1 diabetes usually starts early in life. It results from  the body’s failure to produce insulin. People with it must take insulin each day to control their levels of blood glucose (sugar).

Normal blood sugar levels: From the American Diabetes Association “Fasting (no food or water for 8 hours) levels should be no higher than 100 mg/dl. A diagnosis of diabetes is made if your blood glucose reading is 126 mg/dl or higher after two consecutive blood tests. For a “random” blood glucose test ( taken at any time)  a normal range is in the low to mid 100s. A diagnosis of diabetes is made if your blood glucose reading is 200 mg/dl or higher and you have symptoms of disease such as fatigue, excessive urination, excessive thirst or unplanned weight loss.

Who is at risk?

The number of people with diabetes is increasing.  This is because more people are overweight or obese,

don’t get enough physical activity and are getting older.  However, many younger people are developing diabetes at an alarming rate. This is probably because being  overweight; obese and not getting enough physical activity are increasing problems for this group too. People in several ethnic groups seem to be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. These include:

• Hispanics

• African Americans

• Native Americans

• Asians (especially South Asians)

Symptoms of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes: Frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue and irritability.

Type 2 Diabetes: Any of the type 1 symptoms, frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal, tingling/numbness in the hands/feet, recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections.

What does diabetes have to do with heart disease and stroke?

Diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. That means it can be as serious as smoking,

high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity or obesity. If you have diabetes, it’s very important to have regular check-ups. Work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your diabetes and reduce any other risk factors.

How can I manage my diabetes, or live a lifestyle that helps reduce my chances of getting diabetes?

  • Manage your weight, blood pressure and blood cholesterol with a heart healthy eating plan that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars. *A Mediterranean diet, which includes more foods that have a lower glycemic impact such as more fiber-rich whole grains or legumes, healthy fats, lean protein and a focus on lots of vegetables and fruits is shown to be greatly affective at lowering insulin resistance. Further, eating smaller amounts, often, helps regulate blood sugar.
  • Be physically active. Aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity, aerobic exercise each week.
  • *Build muscle! From a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: “For each 10% increase in the skeletal muscle index (ratio of muscle mass to total body weight) there is an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in pre diabetes.” Muscle stores glycogen which improves how your body uses glucose. While cardio is imperative for working the heart muscle, we do need to do resistance training to help build our other muscles too! If you’re not seeing the scale go down but you’re eating the appropriate amounts of healthy foods, getting appropriate cardio and building muscle, don’t be discouraged. Keep at it and know that your health is improving on the inside, even it isn’t reflected on the scale. This is what our focus should be on.
  • If you drink alcohol, don’t have more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.
  • Lower your blood pressure, if it’s too high. People with diabetes should keep blood pressure under 130/80 mm Hg.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • If you take medications to help control your blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose, take them exactly as directed.

Take a diabetes health assesment

 

Want some more help? Take a diabetes health assessment now!


 

A day in the life:

So, what does a heart-healthy, Mediterranean inspired, AHA guideline (at the end of every BetterU program book chapter before the journal part) day of meals and exercise look like when you’re eating to keep risk factors low for diabetes, heart disease and other chronic lifestyle-related disease?

I want to share with you a sample of what my day looked like as I started on my journey to live for a heart-healthy future. I will include some delicious recipes from the American Heart Association sites as well. This is how I started off when I was over 100 pounds overweight, insulin-resistant, many other risk factors of heart disease and extremely low energy. I took it one delicious day at a time. Every week I sat down on Sunday evenings to menu plan for the entire week and shopped according to that list. I made a lot of cook-once/eat-twice meals, planned my exercise at the same time. I wrote down everything I ate, even if I picked up a candy bar and wrote down my emotions at the time to try to figure out why I made that choice. This is how I lived to drop all of my important numbers, then the side effect was also the 100 pound weight loss on top of all of that. Why didn’t I gain it all back? Because I still do this! This is a lifestyle…not a diet. Here is an example of one of my days:

Morning – get 10 minutes of walking or elliptical. Then I could have breakfast! An example is 1 egg plus 1 egg white scrambled with 1 tsp olive oil, ½ cup leftover cooked quinoa or some black beansand 2 cups of spinach. Topped with salsa and served with a cup of strawberries. Coffee with light milk.

Mid-morning snack, about 3 hours after breakfast – 1 orange and a serving of almonds, for me about 10 almonds.

Afternoon – 10 more minutes of walking or elliptical then 5 minutes doing pushups, lifting weights, doing squats and crunches. Then I had my lunch! Something like this delicious Mediterranean salad (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Mediterranean-Salad_UCM_444325_Article.jsp) , some bell peppers and cucumbers and a serving of hummus.

Mid-afternoon snack, about 3 hours after lunch – 1 apple and 1 Tb natural peanut butter

Dinner – I would enjoy a delicious dinner that was light but satisfying. Perhaps a Simple Shrimp Stir-fry like this one http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Simple-Chicken-or-Shrimp-Stir-Fry_UCM_429278_Article.jsp served up with a side of roasted asparagus.

Late evening, about 2-3 hours before bed – After dinner I would often take my daughter on a walk. If not I would get back on the elliptical for 10 more minutes then do a few yoga-style moves that tone the core and build strength, or more often a 10 minute Pilates routine on video. Then I would enjoy a snack like a little bit of blueberries drizzled with 2 Tb plain yogurt, a tiny drizzle of honey, some cinnamon and a few chopped pecans on top for crunch.


 

Find out more information about diabetes from the American Heart Association here.

Notes from the meetings:

The ladies learned more about Type 2 diabetes and ways to prevent/manage it in the program class today. We had a bit of time so instead of a healthy snack I made them a healthy meal that was made with ingredients I didn’t even have to pull the knife out for! Many of the ladies are expressing they don’t like to/don’t know how to cook and need to cook on a budget. I showed them how to make a delicious quick-fix meal that is incredibly budget friendly, healthy and keeps you full and satisfied with a small portion! I sauteed a package of lean ground turkey in a jar of high quality, all natural salsa. I then stirred in a package of pre-cooked brown rice (frozen or over by the rice section, just brown rice that has been cooked and packaged, ready to reheat – NOT instant brown rice) and a bag of frozen fiesta blend veggies with beans. Stir fry it up with a little ground cumin and enjoy! The ladies enjoyed the flavor and learned another quick-fix meal to help them stay healthy and give them energy to be a BetterU!

 

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 9 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center

 

BetterU 2014 – Week 8

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!)

Special thanks to Marni Hughes and Q13 Fox News – they are helping spread the word about the Go Red BetterU program! We are looking to help YOU participate right along with us. Are you going to join in on the BetterU program with us? If so we are honored to have you here! Leave messages below to say Hi, ask questions and shout it out that you’re doing the #GoRedBetterU program on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and more!

Here is the link to the segment on Q13 news with from May 13, 2014. Chef Kirsten discusses the BetterU program information to help the participants learn how to achieve healthier blood pressure as well as how to make meal time less stressful with Meal Kits! Check out the post for the Meal Kit recipes, plus 8 more recipes you can make from one meal kit! Catch up with Shirley and Kristi this week as well! Here  are some clips from their video diaries. Check out how great they are doing! Here is the recipe for Chef Kirsten’s Healthified Sweet Potato Topped Shepherds Pie from the segment on Q13!

Q13 fox

Week 8

Week 8 of the Go Red BetterU 12-week health makeover focuses on blood pressure. May is American Stroke Month – did you know that high blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke? Find out more about high blood pressure, why it matters, symptoms, treatment and more from the American Heart Association website by clicking here.

Stroke Month

 

 

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!

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 KidsHealth.org 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:

  1. Eat a better diet (focused on in-depth in weeks 2 and 5) which may include reducing salt.
  2. Enjoy regular physical activity (focused on in-depth in week 3)
  3. Maintain a healthy weight (focused on in-depth in week 5)
  4. Manage stress (See this wonderful article about managing stress from John Hammerly, from the AHA website)
  5. Avoid tobacco smoke (we will focus on this more in Week 11)
  6. Comply with medication prescriptions
  7. If you drink, limit alcohol
  8. Understand hot tub safety

 

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.”

Notes from the meetings:

The ladies had a fun and sweaty workout with Zumba instructor Vidette! We had a blast, everyone participated at their own pace. Many of the women said they are definitely going to make Zumba a part of their workout routines! Dancing to fun music – now THAT is a fun workout!

Zumba

 

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