Ozarks Technical Community College Dental Hygiene Instructor Lisa Miles has always focused on healthy teeth and gums, but, she admits, the rest of her body wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t until she found a half-completed BetterU application in her inbox that she decided to do something about it.
“To this day, I still have no idea who started the application,” said Miles. She confided that it may have been her daughter, Lexi, but her daughter has never confessed. Regardless, Miles is grateful for the extra push toward a healthy lifestyle.
BetterU is a part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. Go Red for Women encourages females, and their families, to take action and live a healthier life. The BetterU program offers twelve weeks of free fitness training, medical evaluations and a lifestyle coach to selected individuals, with the end goal of establishing new healthy habits.
After completing the rest of the application, Miles and seven other women from around the Ozarks were selected to participate in the BetterU program.
According to Miles, the program was a community effort. The Springfield Park Board provided the participants with trainers twice a week and local chiropractor and dental offices provided wellness exams. Physical exercise included, but was not limited to, hiking, Pilates and yoga.
“This program was so successful because it holds everyone accountable,” said Miles. “Even now, I still rely on these women for support and they do the same.”
She says the most shocking part about the program was the body fat scan, performed by Springfield’s Big Time Results. To Miles, the scan was a wakeup call.
“They looked me in the eyes and told me, ‘You are going to die of one of three things: heart disease, fat around your colon or of a fatty liver,’” said Miles. “To this day it still gives me goosebumps. My father died of heart disease and I didn’t want to be next.”
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, with an average of one death every 37 seconds. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives than the next four causes of death combined.
Since the program ended, Miles has lost 32 pounds, 6 inches off of her waist and decreased her cholesterol by 50 points. Miles was also asked to speak at the AHA’s Go Red for Women Luncheon in September, where she spoke to over 500 guests about her experience in the BetterU Challenge and her personal struggle to combat the risks of heart disease.
Miles now feels that she is practicing what she preaches. She believes that her students are seeing her progress and starting to follow in her footsteps.
“I don’t feel like a hypocrite anymore,” explained Miles. “I come to work ready to teach about healthy lifestyles and be a real-life example for my students. I try to explain to them that in order to take care of your patients, you have to take care of yourself.”