Beth Bruederlein recently became a grandmother and wants to make sure she’s around for years to come so she can play with her grandson.
Peggy Nau’s family has had issues with high blood pressure and heart disease, and she wants to try and prevent falling into similar trouble.
For both Bruederlein, of Yonkers, and Nau, of Nanuet, when they heard about the BetterU Program, they knew they wanted to take part in it. BetterU is 12-week program set up by the American Heart Association, and in Westchester is being organized by the AHA and White Plains Hospital, where both Bruederlein and Nau work together in the blood bank, which is where they found out about the program.
“It’s a makeover challenge,” said Gregory Plage, executive director at the American Heart Association. “We have 15 participants that are going to go through a 12-week journey and really improve their cardiovascular health. This is the first time this program has been available in Westchester County.”
Bruederlein said she’s struggled with her weight for a while, so she’s looking to lose weight in the program, as well as gain energy and help control her diabetes. Nau said she already has some knee issues and she hopes losing weight will help take some pressure off them.
The program will conclude in May, but throughout the process the plan is for the participants to update the public with how everything is going. The hospital will provide medical testing and nutritional counseling. The 15 women in the program will also workout with trainers from the Will2Lose gym in Scarsdale.
“Our goal is to help you find a balance in terms of exercise and daily activities, help you make that lifestyle change and continue with that lifestyle change as something positive and at the same time influence many other women to make that lifestyle change as well,” Dr. Vito DiMatteo, owner of Will2Lose, told the program’s participates on Thursday.
The event is being kicked off in February because it’s American Heart Month, and Plage said it was appropriate to kick things off on Valentine’s Day.
“We’re really embarking on this journey where we’re going to support these 15 women from our community as they write a Valentine to themselves,” Plage said. “Each woman that participates in BetterU will take the time to learn and love themselves, especially love their heart. They’re going to be improving their diet, participating in an exercise program and really finding out about their overall wellbeing by learning how to control manageable risk factors, such as high blood pressure [and] cholesterol and to cease deadly habits, such as smoking.”
Michael Palumbo, medical director at the hospital, said it’s important to educate women on heart disease because it’s the number one killer of women in the country. He added that last year the hospital performed over 1,100 cardiac catheterizations.
“Our hope, of course, as we launch this campaign is that none of us end up in the cardiac cath lab, and that we maintain the positive lifestyle changes that we’re advocating for,” he said. “I heartily cheer you on and encourage you to pass the message on to your friends, families and loved ones.”
Geralyn Plomitallo, clinical nutrition manager at the hospital, will work with participants in the program. She told them that all different kinds of food can be incorporated into the eating program, but it’s important to make sure the women don’t just eat healthy during the next 12 weeks. She also reminded them that dieting is more effective if exercising as well.
“Whatever you do over these next weeks, I want them to be lifestyle changes and not seen for part of the diet or to lower cholesterol,” she said. “This is what we should all be doing.”