North Country women selected for BetterU health challenge

BetterU participants
Go Red BetterU participants (back row L-R) Mary Jo Rocker, Diane Beschle, Rose Busler, Deb Simmons, Bonnie Eppolito, Serena Manolovits (front row L-R) Erin Fazio, Arleen Burgess, Victoria Hughes, Hilary Remington

The second Go Red For Women BetterU Challenge is underway in the North Country.

Go Red BetterU an innovative initiative that will chronicle local women’s journey toward meaningful lifestyle changes that improve their heart health. The 12-week Go Red BetterU program is designed to remind all women of the need to make healthy lifestyle choices. The North Country BetterU program is being sponsored by Samaritan Medical Center, YMCA, and media sponsors Watertown Daily Times and Froggy 97.

The ten women selected for the BetterU program were introduced at a kick-off event on Tuesday. Their stories will be featured in blogs and in local media with their success celebrated at the annual North Country Heart Walk in April.

Each of the women will receive a three-month membership at YMCA; a baseline medical evaluation from Gina Wetterhahn, PA, of Samaritan Medical Center; and nutrition coaching from Nicole Garnsey of Feed The Soul. The BetterU participants will have group workouts, food shopping field trips, and write about their progress on a blog devoted to chronicling their journey.

We invite all local women to join the BetterU participants in making healthy lifestyle changes. Talk with your healthcare provider, get moving with exercise, take advantage of programs offered in the community, and visit for helpful tips and recipes. Our goal is to make heart health a priority for local women.

Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women each year. Research shows, however, that 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable with simple lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise and smoking.

You can follow along with the BetterU participants here on this blog, and on Facebook and Twitter with #NCBetterU.

2015 Go Red For Women BetterU Participants

Diane Beschle, Clayton – 65-year-old Diane has a long family history of heart disease. She says she wants to live a healthy life and replace “diets” with what she calls “live-its” so she can by physically ready enjoy time with her first grandchild, who will be arriving this summer.

Arleen Burgess, Evans MillsArleen understands the toll health problems can take on a family. She herself is a breast cancer survivor, and she lost her mother to a heart attack. Her mother was 70. Arleen is now 60. Arleen says she wants to learn how to eat health, to make exercise a part of her regular routine, and to lower her cholesterol so she can get off medication.

Rose Busler, Watertown55-year-old Rose calls heart disease and stroke “a family thing.” Her mother had a stroke at a young age and her father died from a heart attack at 65-years-old. Rose works in the healthcare field. She says she wants to inspire others and practice what she preaches.

Bonnie Eppolito, ClaytonAt 48-years-old, Bonnie is one year older than her mother was for her first heart attack. Her father had a heart episode at 50 years old. Bonnie says she doesn’t want her son to lose his mother. She wants to lose weight for good, feel better about herself, and learn how to eat healthy while still enjoying food.

Erin Fazio, WatertownYou may recognize Erin Fazio. Her son Dominic was one of the Inspirational Honorees at last year’s Heart Walk. Now 33-year-old Erin is focusing on her own health. She has a family history of heart disease and stroke, and when Dominic was born, she realized she needed to do something about her unhealthy lifestyle. She says she know she needs to live a healthy life if she is going to teach Dominic to do the same.

Victoria Hughes, DexterVictoria is a stroke survivor with a family history of heart disease and diabetes. At 44-years-old, she has cared for four children and several foster children, but knows she needs to care for herself if she is going to live a healthy life. She says she wants to get to a healthy weight, get off her medication, and become the women she knows she CAN be.

Serena Manolovits, Calcium 44-year-old Serena says she wants to be around for her daughter. She says she knows it’s time to do something for her own health. She wants to learn how to eat better, to exercise regularly, and to feel better about herself. She says she’s looking forward to making a change and improving her life.

Hilary Remington, AdamsAt 25-years-old, Hilary is our youngest BetterU participant. She lost her father to a heart attack about a year ago. That shock has her taking a closer look at her own health. Hilary says she wants to avoid becoming another heart disease statistic.

Mary Jo Rocker, Watertown 51-year-old Mary Jo has a family history of heart disease and cancer. She has already survived cancer. She says she wants to avoid having to deal with heart disease as well. Mary Jo is taking steps to stay healthy, but she knows there is more she can do, and she’s ready to make a change.

Deb Simmons, WatertownNine years ago, Deb suffered a heart attack. Now at age 62, she wants to make sure she can enjoy her retirement with her children, grand-children, and her great-grand-children! To help her do that, she is looking forward to changing her habits and learn how to stick with a new routine.

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