A gift of love and hope through Little Hats, Big Hearts

By Megan Tieman

I could have really used one of these hats when I was born and weighed less than 500 grams — about one pound. When people ask me why I crocheted 25 teeny tiny red hats for the American Heart Association, I tell them that I was born six weeks premature in 1980, which was really preemie for the technology of the day. At less than 1 day old, a cardiac surgeon rushed in off the golf course, pulled on surgical scrubs, and performed a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) procedure. The PDA is an opening between two blood vessels leading from the heart, and it is bad news for newborns.  Fewer than 200,000 cases occur in the U.S. each year.

Tiny, red hats created by Megan Tieman for Little Hats, Big Hearts

I spent about six weeks in a children’s hospital in California, coming up to weight where it was safe to send me home. My dad tells the story that when I could finally come home, there was no such thing as preemie clothing, and he bought me doll pajamas from a local toy store so I would have some clothes.

Today, I have only small reminders of my premature birth: some scarring from the surgery and instillation of IV’s on fragile skin, and 10 years of monitoring to ensure that I had not contracted HIV/AIDS from blood transfusions before they knew the risks (I hadn’t been infected).

Megan displaying her handiwork

A lot has changed in medical technology, but the need for teeny tiny hats remain. And so is the need for hope. Parents must be in agony over the struggles of their fragile baby, and I can attest that there is hope for a normal life. I can provide a baby just like I was with a little warmth when they need it.  It was my pleasure to pay it forward through the Little Hats, Big Hearts program. These sweet babies and their parents have my very warmest wishes for a long, happy and healthy life!

Megan’s donation to the Little Hats, Big Hearts Puget Sound program



BetterU 2014 – Week 12

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!)

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 June 10, 2014. Chef Kirsten and Marni talk about making healthy choices at potlucks and Chef Kirsten shares her delicious and easy potluck favorite, Chicken Enchilada Bake! Catch up with Shirley and Kristi this week as well! Here (to be updated after airing June 14) are some clips from their video diaries. Here is the recipe for Chef Kirsten’s Chicken Enchilada Bake!


 Healthy enchilada recipe

Week 12

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:

  1. Identifying your personal benefits and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. Creating a plan of action with SMART goals.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Building a support team. Learning the importance of and incorporating strength/resistance exercises if you weren’t already.
  5. Knowing your BMI (body mass index). Making over your weight (knowing your calorie needs, setting a weight-loss goal if necessary.)
  6. Knowing physical activity recommendations. Distinguishing low, moderate and vigorous activities. Shopping heart-smart at the grocery store.
  7. Knowing appropriate levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Identifying behaviors you can change to control your cholesterol.
  8. Knowing appropriate levels of blood pressure. Managing your stress.
  9. Learning about diabetes. Using exercise to reduce your risk for diabetes.
  10. Checking your family history for heart disease and risk factors. Encouraging your family to make heart-healthy choices.
  11. Knowing the risks associated with smoking and secondhand smoke. Advocating for a smoke-free community.
  12. 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.

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!

1.       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.

2.       Tell five women in your workplace, your family and your community about Go Red for Women.

3.       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!http://www.heartwalk.org/site/c.rjJ0J6MHIoE/b.5777283/k.2284/Heart_Walk__National_Web_Site.htm To join the Go Red for Women team, search “Join a team”, then “American Heart Association” then “Go Red for Women”

4.       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.

5.       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.

6.       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!

Notes from the meetings:

The ladies and I celebrated with a healthy potluck for our final session. Everyone brought some delicious dishes from salads, appetizers to desserts – yes, healthy desserts! It was a bittersweet end to the 12 weeks we’ve been spending together. We all wished it would continue! The ladies learned their results and we’ll be posting them next week after we reveal them on Q13Fox! Make sure you watch Tuesday, June 17 during the evening news to find out!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 12 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center


BetterU 2014 – Week 11

Welcome to week 11 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 June 2, 2014. Chef Kirsten discusses the BetterU program information focusing on smoking/tobacco cessation. We also discussed the weight gain that can happen when people quit smoking. Watch to find out more! Marni and Kirsten also made some delicious heart-healthy snacks! Catch up with Shirley and Kristi this week as well! Here are some clips from their video diaries. Here is the recipe for the Almond Snack Mix from the Go Red website!

snack mix


Week 11

Week 11: Live Smoke FreeChoose to Quit Smoking

  • Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for nearly 440,000 of annual deaths.
  • Smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems), and atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty substances in the arteries).
  • Smoking increases your chances of developing heart disease and stroke.

The Best Path to a BetterU is to Stop Smoking

Even if you don’t smoke, chances are someone you care about does.

  • The health risks of secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke) are well known.
  • About 38,000 deaths are caused by other people’s smoke each year.
  • Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, and exposure increases a child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.
  • Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are at higher risk for lower birth weight sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and lung and other health problems.

Smoke Free In Your Community – How Can You Help?

  • Give your support to the efforts recommended by the American Heart Association.
  • Support strong federal laws.
  • Learn more about federal regulation of tobacco and regulation of tobacco as a women’s health issue.More information here.
  • Support the establishment of smoke-free workplaces and clean indoor air policies.
  • Support increasing tobacco excise taxes at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Support the funding of tobacco control and prevention programs.
Did You Know?The AHA encourages women to get involved in health advocacy. You’re the Cure is the advocacy network of people committed to reducing death and disability from heart disease and stroke and a group passionate about tobacco control. Enroll in You’re the Cure.

Quick Quit Tips

Quitting smoking can be one of the best things you can do for your health and the health of your family. But, any change – and smoking in particular – is hard. If you, or someone your love, is committed to quit,here are some tips that can help.

Take heart. It may help to know that the health benefits of quitting smoking start almost immediately. Within a few years of quitting the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease are similar to non-smokers.

  • Be prepared. Women are more likely to quit smoking for good if they prepare for two things: 1) the last cigarette and 2) the cravings, urges and feelings that come with quitting.
  • Medication can help. Specific medicines can help people quit smoking when used correctly. Talk to your healthcare provider about the options that may work best for you.
  • Get support. It can help to recruit a support team. Additional support can be found by looking for quit-smoking programs through hospitals, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, or the American Lung Association.
  • Replace the behavior. Women are often concerned about managing stress and weight gain when they stop smoking. There are practical strategies that can help.
  • Learn more about coping with stress when you quit.
  • Learn ways to manage your weight when you quit.
  • Plan for lapses and snapping back. Most women will have an occasional lapse, or slip, which is normal. A lapse does not have to lead into a relapse back to your old habits if you plan ahead for those situations.

All of these resource above, as well as where you can get more information about quitting and a plan to help you stop smoking: Click here.

Important to Keep in Mind:

Choose to Breathe Smoke Free. Whether you have never smoked or you are a current smoker, there are some steps that you can take to choose to breathe smoke free. Apart from quitting smoking, here are some breathe-better choices:

  • Set your own clean indoor air policies. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home or car.
  • Identify and support smoke-free restaurants and businesses in your community.
  • Support others in their attempts to quit. Be understanding of how hard it is to quit, give encouragement and support, avoid nagging or being a watchdog and help keep smoking triggers away from ex-smokers.
  • For more information on being a support person, read Tips for Friends and Families of Quitters.

Notes from the meetings:

This week the ladies had their follow-up lab work done! We get to find out their before/after numbers next week. I saw a lot of happy dances around the room just from the initial numbers being reported! These ladies are making small, permanent changes to their lifestyle and have been improving their health over the past 10 weeks since we started. They are learning life-long habits to continue to be a BetterU!

Have a wonderful week and congratulations on Week 11 towards a BetterU!

Chef Kirsten Signature

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Verdant Health Commission

Lynnwood Rec center