Miss Lori Go Red BetterU Week 12; Exercise your heart with joy

This Summer I have been serving as the Ambassador for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women BetterU Program. A twelve week online course to help me be better by becoming better acquainted with my own body, and how to get it to properly function. I essentially started the program just after I turned 40 in May, and now, 12 weeks later, I have reached the end. It’s really hard to believe. What a journey! Week 12 is all about reflection and review. I need to go back over the key lessons of the program and remind myself of why they are so important in my continued journey to be better.

1. Identifying your personal benefits and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. Creating a plan of action with SMART goals

2. Make small, simple changes to your lifestyle to be more active and eat healthier foods. Add, delete or replace ingredients to make your favorite recipes healthier.

3. Tracking physical activity and foods with a paper or online log. Fitting physical activity in at home, work and when traveling. Making healthy choices when eating away from home.

4. Building a team of support people. Doing strength/resistance exercises.

5. Knowing your Body Mass Index (BMI). Making over your weight (knowing your daily calorie needs, setting a weight loss goal).

6. Knowing the physical activity recommendations. Distinguishing low, moderate and vigorous intensity activity. Shopping heart-smart at the supermarket.

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. Knowing appropriate levels of blood sugar. Making heart health a priority.

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.

Check and check! So, how did I do overall? Hmm well…

The program itself isn’t a weight-loss program, but ostensibly the idea is to get your body working correctly and to do that you need to get your eating habits in check and include more nutritious foods, in reasonable proportions. As well, you are to increase your level of exercise, and decrease your level of stress. Ostensibly by doing so your body will change a bit, hopefully for the better. I think I am pretty much the same clothing size that I was when I began the program in May, but my clothes themselves are fitting differently. Although, my eldest daughter hugged me the other day and said she felt like she could wrap her arms further around me now. So apparently I am definitely BETTER for hugging it seems. (Not a bad byproduct). However, I think the most noticeable change is in my face. But you be the judge. Do you see a difference. Here is a picture of me in May, and here is a picture of me now. Do I look BETTER? Well, I’ll tell you this, I feel BETTER because now I know BETTER.

In reflection it is definitely important to continue to keep track of my numbers and to increase my walking and reduce my eating, but there is more to this program than that, and I was really reminded of that fact this month. Last week, my old friend Tab Baker died of a heart attack. Tab and I met on the theatre circuit so many years ago. We only did one show together though, Thunder Knocking on the Door at the Northlight Theatre. It was a World premiere, but that isn’t why it is so memorable to me. It’s because during the show I was pregnant with my first child. Everyone in the cast went through my morning sickness, my first kick, the news about the sex of my child. They went through it all with me. And Tab in particular was right there to help me process all of it. Funny thing was he was playing the devil in the show, but he was such an angel to me. One of his favorite phrases was “I ain’t mad at ya.” But the truth is I am mad. I am mad that my life kept me so busy that I lost touch with my friend and wasn’t even aware of struggles he was experiencing in the last years of his short, but brilliant life. I am mad that eventhough his heart was big, huge really, filled with talent and love, his heart muscle needed to be better. But most of all I am really mad at his heart for giving out and taking him away from all who loved him. Tab was only 51 years old.

So when I look at this 12 week program, and I see all of the pieces that we need to be aware of to help our hearts function better, and give us a better quality of life overall, I can’t help but think of Tab. And in doing so I feel as though there is a week missing. Because even though the heart is a vital organ; a muscle that pumps blood throughout our bodies, sustaining our lives, powered by exercise, good nutrition and calming rest. It also requires something else. Something less tangible, but immensely important. It requires joy. The heart needs joy. I bet you thought I was going to say love. Yes, love is a good too, but I think that joy speaks to the heart of things so much more. (Yes, the pun was intentional.) Joy is more than happiness, it’s more than love. Joy is buoyant, it’s spectacular, it’s smile inducing. When you think of joy you think of a celebration. Love can be melancholy, happiness is so subjective, but joy…well there’s no mistaking that heart pumping feeling. Joy gives us something to reach for, to hope for, to dream about. Joy gives us incentive to martial on to the next day, and the next, and the next.

So, as we close out week 12 and go off on our merry way, let’s do so with the goal to eat better, sleep better, exercise better, and treat our bodies better of course. But let’s also make a pledge to seek out more joy. Let’s give our hearts something to really pump for. Because let’s face it, a joyous U is always a BetterU.



R.I.P. Tab

This is a Level 2 and a level 9 post, Miss Lori is a Go Red BetterU Program Ambassador for the Summer of 2010

Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com , YoungChicagonista , ChicagoMomsBlog , and ChicagoMoms.com. She is the Chicago Family Entertainment Blogger for Examiner.com and a Discussion Leader for MomsLikeMeChicago. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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  1. This is the great blog, I’m reading them for a while, thanks for the new posts!