3-Step Approach to a Healthy Heart

February is National Heart Month. Resolve to make 2018 a heart-healthy year, not just February but all year long. If you haven't started already, now is the time to simplify your eating and organize exercise time. It is time to pursue a heart-healthy lifestyle.

 

Step 1:  Eating healthy is a choice every single time you prepare to put something into your mouth. Making wise choices is the only way to assure a heart-healthy diet. This means adding brightly-colored fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and antioxidants at every meal along with protein to build a strong, energetic body. Cut down on carbs and sugar. Increase fiber intake with veggies, fruit, and whole grain such as oatmeal. Eliminate highly processed foods.

Using whole foods (in their natural packaging) is the best way to get the nutrients you need every day, and it makes mealtime preparation simple and easy. It is a choice every time you go shopping as to which food items you buy. Choose wisely!

"Be moderate in the use of all things, save fresh air and sunshine."

~ Dr. E.G. Hubbard, The 4-Hour Wisdom

Step 2:  Exercise has long been recognized as the most effective means to prevent fatigue and promote health and well being. It slows the rate at which our bodies change with age. Exercising should be as much a part of your daily routine as brushing and flossing. According to Dr. Steven Fleck, sports physiologist for the US Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, the key to physical fitness is consistency. The benefits of regular exercise have long been acknowledged, but they are not free. It takes regular workouts to see results.

Well, you know all this, right? You really want to exercise, but you ask, "How do I find the time?" Let's look at a few creative ways to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule.

  • Get up early to do a few stretches or yoga
  • Walk whenever possible
  • Take the stairway instead of the elevator
  • Park your car and walk a few extra blocks
  • Do arm curls with canned beans while you prepare dinner
  • Take a hike after dinner

It doesn't take much to compound the benefits of exercise. So, take out your day planner / calendar and make recurring appointments for a regular workout. The act of scheduling an appointment to exercise and blocking off adequate time increases the chances that you will actually do it. It takes 21 consecutive days to make or break a habit. Start today by allowing time for an exercise program that fits your lifestyle. It can be done; it is a choice.

"The time is always right to do what is right."  

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Step 3:  Watch less TV. With the advent of Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV and all the ESPN channels, Americans are vegging out more and more in front of the tube. We take our leisure time seriously. After all, we work hard and deserve to have a little relaxation time. The only problem with this attitude is that it perpetuates heart problems. Being a couch potato does not relieve the stress, clear the arteries or elevate the energy level. On the contrary it increases our chances of coronary disease.

A 30-minute daily exercise program generates a huge fitness payoff. Twenty minutes of brisk walking, eight minutes of strengthening exercises and two minutes of stretching a day will boost your energy and relieve stress.

Schedule time to take care of yourself. No one else will do it for you.

February Challenge of Life Management Skills:

No doubt you understand that it is not exercise alone that protects your heart. Nutrition plays an equally important role. So let's head to the kitchen to undertake the February Challenge of life management skills.

Where to start: Purge the junk!

For the next couple of days, go through your refrigerator, freezer, cabinets and pantry to eliminate those food items you know are not healthy. If you have snacks and junk food hanging around, you are going to indulge. If you don't want to toss, then get a box and put the unhealthy items inside. Label, seal and store it away -- far away. Someday when you meet your health fitness goal, you can splurge just a little. (But I bet you don't!)

Life Management Skill:  To start a heart-healthy month you have two choices: (1) Get rid of junk food--all of it and right now! (2) Sit down and eat them all right now! Presto, unhealthy food problem solved. Now start the new day by making wise choices that will augment a health heart for the rest of your life.

I'll give you a few days to clear out the unhealthy stuff you really shouldn't be eating and then we will get the kitchen (and your life) in order. Check back soon, or better yet, sign up for Clearing Clutter Newsletters and Announcements and you will never miss new postings.

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