Happy Heart Month!
Each February in the United States we celebrate Heart Month to bring awareness to the importance of protecting your cardiovascular health. To celebrate, join me in wearing red this Friday, and participate in the Body Owner's Workshop on Sunday.
Thirteen years ago, when I survived a heart attack at 31 years old, I was surprised to learn that heart disease is not only the number one threat for men, but also for women. If you're not familiar with my story, you can watch a video from 2010 produced by the American Heart Association here.
The statistic that 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable with lifestyle changes was one of the most frustrating, but also the one that gave me hope. It means that we can change the outcome - people don't have to die of heart disease.
But alas, here we are over a decade later and the statistics haven't changed. The annual report from 2021 indicated that about 659,000 people in the U.S. die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
I decided to change careers all of those years ago, because I believe we can do better for our hearts. My passion for helping others on the path to happier, healthier lives is what drives me. I'm committed to reducing the impact of heart disease.
Aside from knowing your risk factors (especially family history) and your numbers (blood pressure and cholesterol), here are my top tips for keeping your heart healthy:
Stressors cannot be completely eliminated, but what you can do is better manage stress with techniques such as taking a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench, walking away from the situation if you can and handle it later, breaking down big problems into smaller parts that you can tackle one at a time, or doing something that makes you feel good.
Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, find ways to exercise that fits your personality. Spread your activity throughout the week. Walk the dog, practice yoga for 30 minutes, when you need a break from your desk, stand up and do some basic strength exercises, like desk push-ups, wall sits, or calf raises.
Eat more plants
Eating plants can lower your risk of many serious and chronic health conditions. Legumes (beans, lentils and peas) are an excellent source of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins. Fruits and vegetables provide many beneficial nutrients, are free of saturated fat, low in calories, and provide fiber to help you manage your weight. Whether fresh, frozen or dried, they can be the most convenient and affordable foods you can eat! Greens in particular are the most nutrient dense foods available.
Learn more about all of these in Sunday's two-hour online workshop, which will cover the effects of stress and how to mitigate them, self-care techniques, simple swaps to improve your eating habits, and what you can do for optimal movement and energy. This workshop will include some yoga, light movement, guided meditation, discussion and journaling. Register here to receive the Zoom info. If you can't attend live, you will receive a link to the recording for registering.