Love Yourself This American Heart Month


February is not only a great time to don red - it’s the perfect time to bring awareness to the importance of your cardiovascular health. The number one killer of women is heart disease, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease and stroke claim the lives of one in three women. We need to be heart smart and change this statistic.This month is the perfect time to stress the importance of cardiovascular health.The importance of getting your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars checked regularly cannot be stressed enough. You already know that a good diet and exercise can keep your heart healthy, but there are some other habits you can incorporate into your lifestyle to ensure your heart health is the best it can be.

It’s never too early or too late to make adjustments to your lifestyle so you can live a longer, healthier life. Whether it’s twinking your diet or exercise routine, managing your stress differently, or adjusting your sleep habits, changing lifestyle habits takes time and effort. Your heart works for you and never takes a day off, so show it some TLC! Making the decision to take on a heart healthy challenge takes time and effort. Be sure to reward yourself for every positive step you take, because your heart’s health will be better for it. Making small changes in your habits can make a real difference to your heart health. I’ve included some tips below that we can all incorporate, one beat at a time.

Four Weeks of Heart-Healthy Tips

Try one tip a day for four weeks to improve your heart health.

Week 1

Take The Stairs.
The elevator may go up - but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs instead. Over time, your body will thank you.

Get Organized To Lessen The Stress.
Focus on your most important tasks by creating to-do lists. Take one step at a time when taking on big tasks. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life - your desk, closet, kitchen, car or drawer.

Add At Least 3 Healthy Fats To Your Diet
Healthy fats consist of avocados, salmon, tuna, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, ground flaxseed, olives, extra virgin olive oil, whole eggs, full-fat milk, full-fat yogurt, edamame, dark chocolate, coconuts and coconut oil, chia seeds, lean grass-fed beef. Whew! Now that’s a list!

Warm Up Before You Work Out
If you plan to run, start by walking. Then walk fast and slowly increase your pace to a quick jog which will increase your heart rate. Your muscles are tighter and cooler when you’re inactive so go easy on them and gradually get loose and warm.

Week 2

Hydrate! Water is your friend.
The harder and longer you work out, the more water you need. Our body is made up of 70% water. Make sure to replace whatever water you sweat out. Your body needs it.

Get Enough Sleep
Go to sleep an hour earlier. Try to get 6 - 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure and belly fat through the release of stress hormones. Sweet  Dreams!

Tune Into Fitness During TV Time
Say goodbye to your inner couch potato. Jog, walk in place or use the treadmill at the gym while you watch your favorite 30-minute show.

Skip The Dessert
Take a family walk after dinner and say goodbye to the cake. You’ll get a reward that’s better than dessert: more time together with the family.

Week 3

Park And Walk
How many times have you driven around the parking lot to find “the perfect spot”? No need to ever worry about this again! You’ll stress less and gain more energy by parking farther away and walking to your destination.

Clean Up
Your heart works best on a clean diet. This means adding more whole, plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It also means cutting out refined, processed foods like pasta, bread, crackers and cookies. Also, cut down on sodas and fruit juices, which don’t contain fruit’s natural fiber.

Move More. Don’t Sit
I don’t know if you’ve heard this new saying “Sitting is the new smoking.” Ouch! OMG! Yikes! In recent years, studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time is just bad for your health, no matter how much you exercise. If you’re doing nothing, do something. And if you’re doing something, do more. Break up periods of sitting with getting up and stretching or moving around while seated at your desk in your office or at home watching TV.

Week 4

Wear A Pedometer
To increase your physical activity, wear a fitbit or use your iPhone app to track the amount of steps you take on average each day. Every few weeks, increase the steps you take by 500. In no time you will hit 10,000 steps.

Join A Fitness Center Near You
Workout before or after work which will enable you to miss rush-hour traffic. Sign up for a yoga or spin class. If you have no lunch plans, drop in for a lunchtime workout. Physical activity just does a body good.

Stretch After Every Workout
Stretching will help prevent injury or muscle strain. Choose two or three of your favorite songs to listen to while you stretch. Don’t stop stretching until they’re over. The minutes will fly by and you’ll get all the stretching in that you need.

Prepare A Heart Healthy Meal
Getting to the heart of the matter, wellness begins with you from the inside out. Make a heart healthy delicious meal for your family. Cut the salt and use more herbs to season. There are many cookbooks out there to help you. Whether you prefer sticking to a mediterranean diet or one that’s entirely low-sodium and low in cholesterol, either of these cookbooks will be full of information.

Give Up Bad Habits
You are what you eat. If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. If you have a sweet tooth and crave sugar, eat fruit instead. Too much alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes can increase stress. Just say no.

The most important thing to remember is this: in addition to doing all of the things that you have to do, do more of what you love to do. Make it a point to spend time with people you’re close to. Talk, laugh, confide and truly enjoy your time with each other. It’s good for your emotional health and your heart’s future will be better for it!

Please share the diet, exercise, wellness and healthy living tips that you swear by. My readers and I would love to hear from you in the comments below or on @lemonadetolace social media pages! Thanks, sweethearts!


xx Barbara

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