Follow several Michiana women who are ready to improve their health with the Go Red BetterU Heart Healthy Makeover Challenge. They will address their unique health obstacles as they take the 12-week challenge. By using BetterU, a free online tool that provides resources and tools, and receiving support from a team of experts, the women will be on their way to leading longer, healthier lives. Why not join BetterU today so you, too, can become a BetterU!

Friday, May 2, 2014

My mom had a heart attack .... will I?

Yes, and no. Family history is a strong predictor of heart disease and heart attack. However, there are many people who have a heart attack with NO family history and just as many people who DO NOT have any family members who have had a heart attack and still have a heart attack.

Look to your family tree as one predictor for heart disease.
What is your family health history? 

Your family's history is known as your family tree. The members of your family tree consist of your mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt or uncle and so forth. An example of how your family tree impacts you is if your mom has blue eyes and your dad has brown eyes you are more likely to inherit either blue or brown eyes It is unlikely you will have green eyes. However, it is possible depending on your family tree. This could happen if another member of your family, say your grandmother had green eyes. 

Now is a good time to examine your family tree when it comes to your health and wellness.

Your family's health and medical history also is also part of your family health tree. If any of your family members have had a heart attack then you are more likely to be at increased risk for having a heart attack. Women with a strong family history of heart disease are more likely to have a heart attack than the general population.

Knowing your family’s health history can help you avoid heart disease  – the No. 1 cause of death in America. 

Your family tree is not the only predictor of heart disease and heart attack. This week for Wellness Wednesday Getting Healthier Each Week this same question was discussed. To learn more about heart disease and the RISK FACTORS you CAN CONTROL & the one's you CAN NOT CONTROL click here 

There are may things you can do to help protect your heart health like choosing healthy foods, choosing to become just a little bit more active, to stop smoking and visit your doctor to evaluate your heart disease risk factors. When you do go for you medical check-up be sure to let your doctor know your family health history, it could be life-saving.

The Go Red BetterU Challengers are using American Heart Association My Life Check Simple 7. Take the test and let us know your Heart Attack Risk Score! To take the test click here.

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN
Certified Health Coach
Wellness Consultant

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In the Kitchen for a BetterU

The Class of 2014 Michiana Go Red BetterU Challengers fun in the kitchen and cooking class. We learned together serving up fast food can come right from our home kitchen and it's healthy too!

Friday, April 18, 2014

This week in road blocks...

This is the tenth week in the BetterU challenge.  How's it going, you ask?  I know you want all the gory details, and like a good blogger, I will share them with you.

Today, I stepped on the scale and was pleased to have seen I've lost just about 10 pounds.  This is in addition to the multiple pounds I've gained in muscle-something else that the uber-fancy scale measures.  Granted, it's a fraction of what I need to lose, but I'll take it.

This week presented a fair amount of challenges.  The worst of those challenges-lemon bars and brownies.  Every day this week, a tray of delectable desserts was offered up as lunch fare, and everyday I refused.  Imagine my surprise to find out that it wasn't nearly as painful as one would think.  I've been at this long enough now, that what the coaches threatened to happen actually happened...I lost my taste for the good stuff.  I no longer feel that instantaneous draw to sweets that I used to.  I took a drink of processed orange juice the other day and thought-ugh, what is this?  What is that all about?  I look at white foods with no nutritional value and think-why?  Why would I eat you if you're not disease preventing?  Why would I eat you if you're not nutritionally valuable to me?  Now granted, there are other benefits that I make an exception for, but for the most part, I question everything.

Last week I had a double whammy - two birthdays. For my mother's birthday I ordered the best cake ever.  It's from the cutest bakery in Michigan City and their cake is to die for.  A ripple of raspberry, a ripple of Bavarian cream, in between three layers of light and fluffy cake with the most delicious icing.  Fortunately, my youngest was ill so I wasn't able to go and enjoy it with my family.  Unfortunately, they sent a piece home with my husband.  I took one nibble of a flower, then one nibble of the ribbons, and was done.  That was it.  Today, I actually threw away the piece of cake, sans nibbles.

The other birthday was my now three-year old daughter's.  I made all the food, making an effort to only use low calorie alternatives when possible.  I did allow myself one small piece of cake alongside 1/2 scoop of Edy's light ice cream.  But that was the trade.  I could not justify having two pieces of cake, so I made a choice.  My mom's or my daughter's?  I went with the kid.
So, the last ten weeks (okay, eight-since the first two weeks were really just learning time) I've been working on transforming my family's eating habits. We've been planning meals, and really reducing the amount of times we eat out in a month.   I add a ridiculous amount of vegetables to the food I prepare and try to sneak in whole grains whenever I can.  Honestly, the kids have barely noticed.  My husband...well, he noticed.  But he doesn't complain much, and in fact-he's lost almost twenty pounds.

I'm about three pounds from my BetterU Challenge goal weight.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Menu Makeover: Slow is the New Fast

The goal of the Michiana BetterU healthy cooking class is to demonstrate "fast food" does not only exist at the drive through window. I am not so sure "fast food" is really that fast.  Think about this for a minute; by the time you decide where to go to pick up food, get in your car, drive to the restaurant, order, then be served and drive home 30 – 45 minutes has passed. In the same amount of time you could have enjoyed a relaxing home cooked healthy meal with your family creating a healthier life for you and your family. 

The Michiana BetterU Challengers learned how to fight fast food with slow food during the interactive Menu Makeover healthy cooking class. In case you have not heard of the Slow Food Movement, it's a philosophy which focuses on combating the idea when it comes to food, fast food is NOT your only choice nor is it the best choice.

The Slow Food Movement, like the American Heart Association focuses on choosing healthier food options, the fresher the better. There seems to be confusion as to what healthy food is and is not. To add to the confusion are hundreds of media messages every day telling us manufactured foods are cheaper, faster and has the same level of nutrition as foods made at home from natural whole food ingredients. This is simply is not true.

The fact is any food you prepare from home, with your ingredients and that do not come out of a bag, box or freezer are always going to be healthier than any food you get anywhere else. During the cooking class we chopped, mixed, stirred, cooked then served a 5 course meal fast in just 30 minutes. I'd say that's pretty fast!

The menu included foods we think of as fast food: 
vegetable soup
fruit parfait 
and sparkling water with a dash of pomegranate juice.

Here is what else we learned: 

1. The easier the food is to make the more sodium and fat it tends to have.
2. What is unhealthy about prepared and process foods.
3. How to make healthy substitutions for prepared foods common to family menus.
4. Food is always healthier when prepared at home.
5. Healthy foods can be prepared “fast” at home.
6. A serving size of chicken, beef, pork and fish is smaller than you think.
7. The recommended servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains are more than you think.
8. New nutrition facts label will help us make better food choices. 

In class we examined food for heart healthy labeling looking for sodium, cholesterol, fat, fiber and sugar comparing these "ready to go foods" with foods requiring some simple preparation. We prepared a full meal containing USDA recommendations for a healthy diet and reviewed healthy plate management strategies.

The healthy cooking class demonstrates with an organized plan, knowledge and a strategy that works cooking from home is nutritious, easy to do, economical and takes very little time.

Thank you to Martin's Supermarkets for assisting us with our cooking class and the beautiful cooking school location. Also to American Heart Association for providing helpful tools in their Nutrition Center and C2 Your Health LLC for teaching the class.

Slow is the new fast!  

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN
Certified Health Coach

Mommy Guilt

I’ve always been a fairly self-centered individual…until I had my first child.  Then it became not so much about me, but about her.  Then there came child number two, and suddenly, I became lost in the shuffle.

Throughout these last two months, I have struggled with my obligation to my children vs. my obligation to the challenge.  I already have mommy guilt supreme since I’m currently working two jobs.  As a general rule, I try to save my writing until after the kids have gone to bed, but I’m still gone the majority of the day.

Last week on my way out the door to go to the gym, my youngest grabbed at me and said “I don’t’ want you to go exercise”.  Now, keep in mind – she’s a pretty cute kid.  She has a big round face and naturally curly blond hair.  Throw in those big blue eyes of hers and it’s nearly impossible to say no to her.  In fact, I almost didn’t.  I was just about to throw my gym bag on the floor and stay home when it hit me.  The best thing I could do in that moment was leave.

As mothers we believe in doing whatever we can for our kids.  We sacrifice our alone time, our husband time, and whatever else we need to better their lives.  Because I’ve not taken the necessary time to work on myself over these last few years, I’ve potentially sacrificed the very thing both my kids and myself regard as being most important—time.  By not working out, by not eating healthy, I’ve potentially taken years off my life.  In the short term, by sacrificing that ‘me’ time, I’ve given my children a fraction of the mom I could be.  I don’t have energy, I’m tired all the time, I’m stressed out, and I spend more time covering myself up at the beach then enjoying time in the water with them.

That’s not quality time.

So, I gave my child a kiss and told her I would be home in a couple hours.  I don’t go to the gym every night, just a couple nights a week.  But since going to the gym, I’ve regained bone-density, I’m less fatigued, and far less stressed out than I was.  I try to work out at home when I can, but I still benefit from the sessions spent with the trainer so I’m willing to give up a few hours with my kids.  By doing this, I’m showing both my daughters that it’s okay to make yourself a priority sometimes.  And hopefully they grow up knowing that personal health is hugely important.  And hopefully they’ll understand that my short term sacrifice will benefit our entire family in the long run.

2014 Michiana BetterU 12 Week Challenge Celebration Join Us May 8th, 2014

Join us for the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Michiana BetterU Luncheon when we celebrate the challenges and successes of 12 women from Elkhart General Hospital seeking a healthy life. These women are an example of what you can do to develop healthy lifestyle behavior change with community support and those around you. This is a call to action for each one of us to reach out to one women in our community and  teach them what we have learned to be healthy.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Road to Better Health is Traveled in the Supermarket

Each year the Michiana AHA BetterU Challengers participate in the BetterU Challenge Supermarket Scavenger Hunt. This spot on our healthy journey is where we learn how distinguish the unhealthy foods from the healthiest foods and how to make those selections.  Thank you to Martin’s Supermarkets for hosting our scavenger hunt.  The challengers supported by their family, friends and each other enjoyed a healthy dinner and scavenged the supermarket for healthy foods guided by the AHA BetterU Health Coach, Cindy Cohen RN of C2Your Health LLC.

Some of the things we learned...

It's important to read the nutrition facts on the food label on the packaging and use this as a guide to making healthier food selections. 

It's easy to be fooled by the advertisements on the front of the food packaging. Some manufactures claim on the package something entirely different than what actually exists. For example, the front of the package my say "No Trans Fats" and the ingredient list says “hydrogenated oils” which is a trans-fat.  

Fiber is our friend and not always where you think it is. Some foods you think have fiber do not. For example, some whole wheat breads have zero fiber. The best choices are the foods that have at least   
1 gram of fiber.    

It's hard to find flavored drinks that don't contain added sugars, high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners (unhealthy). Water is always the best choice.

Many foods are loaded with more than days serving of salt (sodium) in one serving such as some soups and spaghetti sauces.

How to make sense of food certifying organizations such as organic, gluten free, and Heart Check - American Heart Association approved.

The Supermarket Scavenger Hunt Class demonstrates the road to better health is not always clear and it's important to be aware of the pot holes (TV ads) and warning signs (misleading labels) along the way. Adding new meaning to the seemingly harmless act of going to the grocery store to "buyers beware"; as Dr. David Katz, Nutrition Detectives says about some foods "Step away and no one will get hurt."

What did you learn the last time you went grocery shopping at the supermarket?

Your partner in health,

Health Coach
Wellness Consultant