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Kicking off the North Country BetterU program

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Today 11 women are joining the American Heart Association on a journey to better heart health. These 11 women will take part in the Go Red BetterU Challenge. BetterU is a 12-week nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle change program that gives women a heart healthy makeover from the inside out.

Thank you to our sponsors who are helping make this program possible: Samaritan Medical Center, the YMCA, and media sponsors Watertown Daily Times, WWNY-TV, and Froggy 97.

Each of the 11 women will receive a three-month membership at YMCA, a baseline medical evaluation from Gina Wetterhahn, PA, of Samaritan Medical Center; nutrition coaching from Nicole Garnsey of Feed The Soul; smoking cessation help if needed; and guidance coaching from Joleene Moody of JoleeneSpeaks!. The BetterU participants will have group workouts, food shopping field trips, and write about their progress on this blog devoted to chronicling their journey.

As they get started on the program, meet the dynamic women taking the BetterU Challenge:

Angela Alpaugh:
Our next challenger says she moved to the North Country as a newlywed housewife two years ago and is looking for guidance to lead a healthier lifestyle. 38-year-old Angela Alpaugh, of Evans Mills, wants to learn how to get an exercise program she can stick with and the right eating habits to help combat her family history of heart disease.

Chelsea Bango:
Chelsea Bango knows it is time to make a change. The 25-year-old from Theresa says she has been overweight her entire life and is serious about improving her health. Bango says she struggles with figuring out the best foods for a healthy diet, and wants to get accurate information about what it takes to not only start, but maintain, a healthy lifestyle.

Deborah Biondolillo:
Deborah Biondolillo says she has been trying to diet for her entire adult life. The 51-year-old from Calcium wants to find out why she hasn't been successful. She is self-employed with a physically demanding job and is looking for some extra encouragement to get herself healthy. Her father died of heart disease at a young age, but Biondolillo wants to do something to help prevent heart disease for herself and be a role model for her children.

Laurie Donohue:
Laurie Donohue says she has tried diets, but at 54-years-old, she says she has struggled. Donohue already suffers from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and lowering both of those numbers are her biggest goals. The Watertown woman says she wants to set an example for all of the women in her family.

Debra Farmer:
At 52-years-old, Debra Farmer says she is actively seeking the right kind of program to get her on track after many failures. Farmer, of Chaumont, says she wants to learn how to change her lifestyle to get healthy and avoid the suggestion of bariatric surgery.

JoEllen Heukrath:
Coming from a family history of heart disease, 58-year-old JoEllen Heuktrath says she is incredibly motivated to make a significant change in her lifestyle. Heukrath, of Deer River, wants to become better educated about healthy lifestyles so she can hold herself accountable and improve her health.

Patricia Hovorka:
Patricia Hovorka just celebrated her 60th birthday. The Adams woman says she is starting feel old and wants to change that. She wants to lose weight and get in better shape, along with lowering her cholesterol so she can get off cholesterol medication. She says she wants to be proud of herself again and set an example for her children and her grandchildren.

Patricia Howell:
After losing her mother to a heart attack and heart grandmother to a stroke, Patricia Howell, of Watertown, says she wants to be around for her three grandchildren. At 68-year-old, Howell is our oldest participant, but says she is motivated and committed to the program.

Krista Kittle:
44-year-old Krista Kittle, of Watertown, says she wants to lead by example. Often representing the hospital in community events and in the media, Kittle says she wants to be a role model for the wellness and prevention behaviors that all Americans are being encouraged to commit to as part of the healthcare reform legislation.

Shawna Rich:
Shawna Rich has tried changing her habits before, but is looking for help to succeed. The 28-year-old from Carthage is looking for positive lifestyle changes regarding nutrition and exercise that will help her live a longer, healthier life. She wants to keep up her motivation to make lasting changes and avoid her family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Michelle Swike:
The number one goal for 38-year-old Michelle Swike from Carthage is to quit smoking. Swike says she has always battled with her weight and has made a decision to life a healthier life. She wants to ditch her smoking habit, get in shape, and show other women that they can do it too.

Throughout the program, these women will be updating us on what they're doing and how it's impacting their lives. Be sure to check back here over the next 12-weeks to follow along!

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