Did you know that heart disease affects one in three women?
That’s one in three of our mothers, wives, aunts, sisters, and best friends.
In honor of Go Red for Women Day on Friday, February 1 and American Heart Month in February, we are sharing stories from seven CVHHH employees. These women—four nurses, one social worker, and two office staff—provide care and support at home for central Vermonters living with a range of conditions, including heart disease. These women are also committed to staying active and to making choices to keep their hearts as healthy as possible. Each in her own way, these women are taking action to be their healthiest selves. To be inspired, read on!
Ashley LaFirira | Registered Nurse
Ashley’s motivation to stay healthy stems, in large part, from her time in the military. Ashley joined the Vermont National Guard in high school and was stationed in Afghanistan for nine months. “I immersed myself in the gym atmosphere when I was overseas. Working out became something that I really enjoyed, and it was a major stress reliever and confidence booster.”
Now with a family of her own, (that’s Ashley, above, holding her daughter Fallyn) Ashley’s reasons for staying healthy have evolved. “I have a family history of diabetes. I want to keep my daughter and husband healthy and demonstrate how to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Ashley’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Your Workouts will Evolve with You “Before I had a baby, I ran 4 to 8 miles most days. Now, during the winter I love doing the INSANITY Workout DVD, a 60-day program. It’s only 30-60 minutes, so it doesn’t take a lot of time and gives me a good cardio and strength workout.” Ashley also enjoys getting her hands dirty in her garden–weeding by hand instead of using the rototiller–and works out with Fallyn in tow whenever she can.
Bridget Coburn, RN | Hospice & Palliative Care Team
Over the past year, Bridget, has lost 90 pounds by using Weight Watchers. “I’ve really changed my eating habits and am careful about my portions, including snacks,” says Bridget. “I feel so much healthier and much more cognizant about what I put into my body.”
Bridget formed a fast friendship with CVHHH’s HR Recruiting Specialist, Robin Bador (pictured far left with Bridget), as the pair embarked on their weight-loss journeys about the same time. They relied on one another for support and inspiration and happily celebrate their successes together!
Bridget has a congenital heart defect, which motivates her to stay healthy. “Statistically, women are much more likely to die of a heart attack than men. For years, I was a single mother and thought a lot about what would happen to my kids if I did not take care of myself.”
Bridget’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Do What Works for You For Bridget, who has a full-time job and two sons, regular exercise is not always an option, though she loves to hike and wants to do more yoga. So, she watches what she eats and exercises whenever she can.
Robin Bador | Human Resources Generalist
Three things motivated Robin to lose 40 pounds. “I was tired all the time. I was not happy with my appearance, and, at one point, I weighed more than when I was nine months pregnant.” Robin realized that a moderate course was the best path for her to achieve her goals. “I like to eat,” she says. “I still go out for dinner and drinks with my friends. I just plan accordingly and make sure to work a little harder at the gym!”
High blood pressure runs in Robin’s family. Since losing weight, though, Robin, who works out for an hour five days a week, has kept her symptoms under control. “I love how I feel after 45 minutes of cardio. Knowing that I’m in a better place with my health is motivating.”
Robin’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Don’t Change Your Lifestyle Too Much “If you stop eating all of the foods you love to eat, your diet will feel like punishment. That’s not the goal!” Robin eats what her husband, the family cook, makes for dinner. She’ll just skip bread or watch her portions. And, she occasionally indulges in a few small pieces of candy or an Oreo (her favorite).
Sarah Sadowsky, LICSW | Medical Social Worker
Sarah says that eating healthy and exercising have always been a part of her mindset. “Growing up, I was lucky to be exposed to healthy lifestyle choices through sports and people who educated me about food, how it’s produced, and what’s in it. I have also done a lot of reading about food.”
Sarah, pictured left with her social work colleagues, is a vegetarian and eats avocados, kale, nuts, vegetables, lentils, beans, and tofu in regular rotation. “Food definitely impacts my mood,” Sarah says. “I function better in my professional and personal life when I am taking care of myself.”
Sarah’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Make Being Healthy Part of Your Daily Routine Sarah packs a healthy lunch and snacks to eat while she’s on the road visiting with clients. She also exercises and drinks green tea every day.
Shelby Lunn, RN, WCC | Registered Nurse, Wound Care Certified Clinician, and Clinical Team Manager
After watching a few documentaries about the meat industry, Shelby decided to follow a vegan lifestyle. At the time, Shelby, pictured far right at our Seasons of Life fundraiser in 2018, raised chicken and quail for meat and eggs. “The movies opened my eyes to the impact of eating animals on our cholesterol and cardiovascular system. Though she does not have a family history of heart disease, Shelby is interested in the preventive effects of her new diet, especially on her memory.
These days, Shelby and her boyfriend grow huge vegetable gardens, which they eat out of all summer. “I have more energy. My skin is much better; I sleep better; things taste better. Going vegan just provided a lot more clarity for me,” she says. What’s more, for the first time in his adult life, Shelby’s boyfriend’s cholesterol is finally under control.
Shelby’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Don’t Be Afraid of Change As a vegan, Shelby eats a much greater variety of foods than she used to, including fruits, vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and non-dairy almond and cashew milks. “I enjoy putting new flavors together and have learned a lot.”
Colette Page | Billing Specialist
Colette believes that moderation is the key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle. “I try to get eight hours of sleep a night, take quiet time alone every day, and go to Planet Fitness, where I alternate cardio and weight training, five days a week.” Colette, pictured at the Pinnacle summit in Stowe, also drinks lots of water and limits her intake of fats, sweets, processed, and fast foods. “Believe me, though, I’m no saint!” she admits. Colette says that she enjoys an occasional glass of wine or beer and a burger or slice of pizza.
Colette’s older sister died very suddenly at the age of 49 of atherosclerosis. Plus, she’s got a family history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. “The combination of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is the best way I have found to maintain my weight and my heart and lung health. This is more important as I age. I want to maintain my active lifestyle with my husband and cut down on visits to the doctor’s office.”
Colette’s Stay-Healthy Tip
- Food is Fuel “If I am not hungry, I don’t force myself to eat.” Colette eats fresh wild fish once or twice a week, plenty of salad, non-fat yogurt and almonds for snack, and an apple a day. She also skips a meal every now and then to give her digestive system a rest.
Shelby Chicoine | Registered Nurse
After graduating from nursing school, Shelby decided to make a change. “I was 60 pounds overweight. It hurt to walk, and my stomach frequently bothered me. I was unhappy and realized that, as a nurse, I was not a shining example of healthy habits. I thought to myself, how can I talk the talk if I can’t walk the walk?”
Shelby, pictured working with one of her patients Cecil, tries to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and she exercises every morning (stretching and resistance, with cardio every other day). She also eats a low-sodium, high-protein diet with plenty of good fats, fruits, and vegetables. She also drinks three to four gallons of water a day. By making changes to her diet, Shelby has lowered her bad cholesterol and increased her good cholesterol, which lowers her risk for heart disease.
Shelby’s Stay-Health Tip
- Give Your Body What it Needs “It’s essential to provide your body with the ‘good stuff,’ and to treat your body well so that it functions for you.” In other words, follow a healthy diet and keep active to put yourself in the best position for health.