What do you think of when you think of February?
Cold weather? Valentines Day? Heart Month?
For me, I think of all of the above. In part, because we just witness one of the coldest weeks we have had this winter. Even though I wanted to stay inside, as a pacer for a half marathon group we toughed it out and ran is 5 degree temperatures. Sure, some of the runners found running in such temperatures difficult by for me, my body followed my mind and just…ran with it. This running mind of mine has always been difficult for me to shut off but during this specific run I put 2 and 2 together.
You see, one of the runners in my group wanted to let me know of her heart problems and her desire to run and achieve her physical activity goals. As her pacer, it was vital for her to provide me with this information so that I could be prepared in case anything ever happened to this runner. Even though this is never the news you want to hear from one of your runners it internally made me smile. I smiled because I saw myself in her as I too have heart problems and I too took the unfortunate news of having heart problems and turned it around to not only become healthier but to come stronger, physically, and to complete a marathon.
This February I challenge you to tap into your own “conversation hearts” to talk about heart health.
What you need to know about heart health:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women with one in fourth deaths attributed to heart disease
- Heart disease can occur at any age. As a preventative measure, it is best to check your cholesterol and blood pressure regularly.
- Symptoms of a heart attack are different for women versus men. Women tend to experience back pain, jaw pain or extreme fatigue.
- Healthy food choices and regular physical activity can help prevent heart disease even if you have family history of heart disease.
- The American Heart Association estimates that 80 percent of cardiovascular disease may be preventable. It is never too late to make healthy lifestyle choices. Start now by making an appointment with your doctor and making lifestyle adjustments that promotes normal blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.
How to lead a heart healthy lifestyle
- Control portion sizes –> switch to a 10 in plate and learn what an actual portion size looks like (ex: one serving of pasta is 1/2 cup cooked)
- Eat more fruits and vegetables –> think about eating a rainbow of colors for a variety of vitamins and minerals
- Select whole grains –> Go for whole-wheat flour, bread, pasta, etc. that are full of fiber
- Reduce sodium –> Try making more homemade meals where you can control the sodium levels. However, if you consume canned, frozen or prepackaged foods look at the sodium levels and try to buy ones that are low is sodium or sodium free.
- Limited unhealthy fats –> We need fat in our diet but we don’t need excess fat. Reduce added fat coming from sweets like cakes, cookies, crackers, chips and fried food. Rather, stray toward lean cuts of meat and fish and low-fat and fat-free dairy products.