February is Healthy Heart Month

"I am not a product of my circumstances.

I am a product of my decision."  ~Stephen Covey

For me, a healthy heart is a good place to start the journey towards my 2017 goal of Healthy Abundant Living. This is an excellent month to incorporate some heart-healthy living into my daily routine.

How about you? Do you want to join the 12-month journey of choosing good habits to achieve your 2017 goals? Read on...

 

Be mindful of what you put into your mouth

Eat right, eat light. Simply put, avoid anything that comes wrapped in cellophane -- highly processed foods. A heart-healthy diet can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and keep blood pressure under control.

  • The pathway to success for any goal (or New Year's resolution) needs to begin with awareness. Think about it. If you resolve to begin a healthy eating program, focus on what you actually put into your mouth each day. To increase consciousness of healthy (and unhealthy) choices keep a daily food journal. Documenting what you eat makes you accountable for the choices you make.
  • Avoid overeating by using portion control. Consider this statistic from the American Heart Association study “A Nation at Risk: Obesity in the United States”:  Adults today consume an average of 300 more calories per day than they did in 1985. More stats can be found here.
  • When food is out of sight, it is out of mind. A Cornell University study showed that without the temptation within arm's reach, participants ate 20-30% less than they did when the extra helpings were in front of them.
  • Water provides no vitamins yet it is an important sustenance for a healthy body. Water carries nutrients to cells and aids in digestion while flushing toxins from our bodies. Stay hydrated.
  • Manage your weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.  Get your 9-a-day.

 

Not everyone gets to snowshoe in Antarctica, but you can get outside for exercise and fresh air

Exercise should be as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Be creative.

  • Walk to a colleague's desk rather than picking up the telephone or sending an email.
  • Take the stairway instead of the elevator.
  • Park your car and walk a few extra blocks.
  • Do arm curls with canned soup while preparing dinner.
  • Get outside. Walking requires nothing but good sneakers.

It doesn't take much to compound the benefits of simple yet consistent exercise.

 

Cat owners are known to have lower blood pressure

Sleep is paramount to a heart-healthy body. The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be. Dr. Gina Lundberg, clinical director of Emory Women’s Heart Center, says, “The positive effect of sleep is not just on your heart health but also on your stress hormones, your immune system, your breathing, and your mental status."

Benefits of 7-8 hours sleep are:

  • Strengthen and support of the immune system
  • Boost cognitive function
  • Consolidate memories
  • Keep hormones in check
  • Help you to look and feel your best

 

Manage stress. Stress is a part of our everyday life. We all experience stress at some point. However, problems develop when stress becomes overwhelming and managed poorly. Effective stress control relies on an approach that includes awareness of stress-reducing habits and lifestyle changes.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Identify and incorporate daily habits and behaviors that reduce stress
  • Accept the things you cannot change
  • Move your body frequently - dance, walk, jitterbug
  • Put your hands to work to help your mind unwind
  • Laugh with family and friends
  • Do something enjoyable every day
  • Consider a pet
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Manage time and commitments
  • Create a peaceful haven by reducing household clutter

 

Habits influence how we live our lives as New York Times writer Charles Duhigg explains in his book The Power of Habit.  Some habits can be good for us while other habits can be detrimental to our health. Choose wisely.

Take the scenic route home

 

 

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