So many times when I take photos, I find I’m searching out reflections. One third of our way through the BetterU challenge, I’m stopping for a minute to reflect.
I find it hard to believe that after tearing my meniscus in early June that I could barely walk up stairs, but that was the case. That fall and injury caused me to make a reassessment of my life, my body and my future – and with my doctor’s permission, I applied to BetterU. I didn’t think I’d be accepted. My application was last minute. There were too many others who had more pressing issues. But I hit send with a prayer as somehow I knew that this initiative by the American Heart Association was really what I needed to learn how to create sustainable change for my future.
When I received the call from Allison saying I was accepted, I almost cried. I think I did when I hung up. It’s not that I couldn’t diet on my own, or go a gym on my own, but how many of us say the same thing, create time for a few weeks, then fall back on the same patterns as before. This program is a challenge for each of us to the very depths of our being. It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about rethinking how and what we do to find healthier patterns for living.
The magic of BetterU is having this amazing group of women surrounding you. I’ve never been in a sorority, but I imagine this is what it’s like. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, reaching out to post your feelings in our private group brings an overwhelming influx of support and encouragement from current BetterU teammates as well as the alumnae of the program. If you feel like you’re not going to make it through a class, someone’s usually there to give you a hug and say, “you can do this.” Together we’re becoming a better version or possibly a truer version of who we are.
Along the way, each of us is learning that making this time for us isn’t frivolous, selfish, or a luxury. It’s a necessity. If we don’t do it ourselves, no one else will do it for us. I know I’ve heard that for years, but in reality, I’ve put myself last for so long, it’s been a game changer to realize that this is okay.
This first third of the program has been amazing. I’m already feeling the change in my body. From higher energy levels, to weight loss (yay), to lower blood pressure readings, the effects are real. This weekend, I took a workmate’s advice and visited a consignment shop as I actually need new clothes, but as I’m still reshaping my body, I don’t want invest a lot. I saw a beautiful Ralph Lauren red linen blazer in a 14W. I thought, wow, maybe I can fit in that (my blazer size was usually an 18w for the past few years). In the dressing room after I removed my sling (more on that) and carefully slid my arm in, I thought, wow this is roomy. Once I was enveloped in it. And I do mean enveloped. I thought, this is way too big. I had to go out of the dressing room and ask someone else to confirm this, as I didn’t believe it. In truth it was way too big.
As to the sling, two weeks ago I had a stupid accident, tripping over my dog in the dark and doing a pratfall worthy of a comic scene. As I sat on the floor in the lotus position, taking stock of first my legs (yes, both knees okay), back (fine), left arm (okay), right arm – oh – I can’t move it. Diagnosis? Broken shoulder and in a sling for at least a month. When I heard that, I was shocked, but immediately asked, “I can still exercise right? I’m in this great program and don’t want to stop…” The doctor smiled and said, “Absolutely. Just don’t move that arm, work your legs, and no treadmill!”
Since then I’ve taken most all the classes I was taking before with the amazing instructors at Gold’s Gym helping me modify the movements so my right shoulder remains immobile. Barre with Priscilla? Amazing. Yin Yoga with Dawn? So wonderful I never want it to end. Zumba, yes, Zumba with Michelle totally fun and finally getting the footwork as I don’t move my arms and also don’t try any jarring motions. I really have to give a huge shoutout to my personal trainer Sean, who worked with me the evening after my doctor’s visit. He then spent his off time researching how to best keep strengthening me with only the one arm, and after last night’s team training, my left arm feels super strong!
My teammates say they’re impressed that I keep going, but I’m overwhelmed by knowing that one of my teammates has such bad hip pain that in or
der to face each day she has to take one of the medications I use to allow me to sleep without pain. Her courage facing each day with that kind of pain and doing this program is what inspires me and puts this temporary pain in perspective.
To me, BetterU isn’t just a challenge to become thinner (though I’ll definitely take that), but it’s about becoming healthier, more resilient, more aware and empathetic. I told Dawn that I think if I hadn’t been so relaxed and at peace after my Yin Yoga session that my fall that evening would have been far more traumatic. For the first time in years, I feel that I’m finally finding control of my life and that is priceless. Thank you BetterU, Central Hudson and the amazing Denise VanBuren, Gold’s Gym and HealthQuest for ensuring that so many of us have the opportunity to become better and healthier versions of ourselves!
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.