This quote was delivered straight to my mobile this morning. Its an early Valentine’s Day gift for all of us. A pretty, little reminder to keep practicing our self love:
“You can’t really know your power until you exercise it.”~Danielle LaPorte
How’s that for a beautiful cue from Mother Nature, letting us know that we are on the right path? That said, how are you doing with yesterday’s challenge?
Are you looking in the mirror and talking to yourself with love? Are you acting confidently and doing, saying and behaving as if you have NO flaws —
HEART = LOVE
Lets move onto the next topic in our Valentine’s Day series: Heart Health.
February is “American Heart Month.” Why am I talking about this during our Valentine’s Day series? Well, we associate love with our hearts, don’t we? How many times have you said, “I love you with my whole heart?” Honestly, if you multiply them by a million I still wouldn’t have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I’ve used that phrase…to Adam alone.
I’ve always wondered why our hearts are the organ associated with love when our brains are actually responsible for thoughts and emotions. After some research and weeding through some **very strange** answers, I settled upon the theory that in ancient times, the heart was thought to be responsible for our thoughts, memory, personality, mood and emotions. That’s why they preserved the heart during mummification but threw away the brain. (Gross but interesting fact.) The heart/brain myth was eventually debunked during the Renaissance period. To this day; however, we associate the heart with love.
Okay, enough geeking out for one blog post.
PROTECT YOUR HEART
We need to take care of our hearts so we can be around and in tip-top condition when our loved ones come home. The way I look at it, I want to stay young and healthy forever. We have to make up for A LOT of lost time, after all.
Here are my top 11 tips for to keep your heart healthy:
1. Slash Saturated Fats
“Bad” cholesterol clogs the arteries, we know this. Cut the junk and protect your heart)
2. Increase Healthy Fats
Essential fatty acids (EFA) are found in fish, nuts, avocado, low fat dairy, coconut, olive oil, flax etc. Healthy fats will help you burn icky fat (total medical term, ;-), as long as you’re eating them in moderation. **Bonus snack recipe at the bottom of this post (no cooking, just assembling and it takes less than 5 minutes to make)**
3. Bake > Fry
Heating certain oils at the high temperatures needed to fry food causes them to turn rancid and wreak havoc on your internal organs. Olive oil is one of those oils. (My off-the-boat Italian “Nonna’s” are turning in their graves right now. Bless their souls.) Other common oils used to fry are high in saturated fats and proven to cause heart issues.
4. Drink More Water
You want to avoid thick, sticky blood by getting in your H20. Think about water moving through a pipe. Thick, grimy water causes residue, eventually clogging its passage. Clean water passes through effortlessly.
5. MOVE Your Body
American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults: “To improve overall cardiovascular health, we suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day…Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories.”
6. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is beneficial for so many reasons but my favorite for heart health is this: It will bind to fat and help you eliminate it before it sticks to your arteries or gets stored in your cells.
7. Eat More Fruit and Veggies
They are loaded with fiber, nutrients and minerals. Plus, they will keep you full so you eat less heart damaging, processed and fried foods.
8. Quit Smoking
This advice is coming from the “fitness chick” who would sneak out the back door on competition day and puff on “cigs” till my group was called. I kicked my 20+ year on-and-off habit and I KNOW you can too. You know all the reasons to give up smoking, there’s no need for me to list them.
9. Get Down To A Healthy Weight
Talk to your doctor about a heart-healthy weight for your unique body composition.
10.Wine & Chocolate
One glass of red wine and a square of antioxidant rich dark chocolate are both good for your heart. DISCLAIMER: As with anything, moderation is key. Too much of either will have an adverse effect. Obviously.
11. Eliminate Stress
Easy to say, not easy to do — believe me, I know. However, stress is the NUMBER ONE cause of heart related illness (any/every illness, really). How can you consciously avoid extra stress in your life? Do you HAVE to stalk his baby mama’s profile until your heart’s racing w/ anger and anxiety? Who and what can you cut out of your life to de-stress?
There are plenty of times where we just can’t avoid stress (hello, work!). Practicing breathing exercises and meditation during those times will help tremendously.
Here’s a bonus: If you begin to eliminate stress in your life, you’ll start losing belly fat. The hormone your body (over) produces during times of stress (cortisol), makes you gain fat around your midsection. Bye-bye stress, bye-bye love handles. I can handle that. Oh Lord! I swear I did NOT mean that pun but I “gotta” admit, when I realized what I typed, I snickered (dork status).
If “Costco” and “Whole Foods” had a baby, it would be “Thrive Market.” Except, you don’t have to buy in bulk at Thrive Market. But you DO get to take advantage of wholesale pricing on healthy foods when you shop there. Is it just me or does that news make you hear angels sing? I’ve never seen prices so low for all of my beloved heart healthy foods and products. Check them out here. You can thank me later.
2. FREE Class
You’ve heard me rave about my new favorite gym, “Orange Theory Fitness.” Now you can play along with me for FREE. Its a go at your own pace workout. Classes are filled with every fitness level, starting with people who have never worked out. Its the most heart-centric workout style I’ve done (believe me, I’ve tried every fitness craze and class you can imagine). Plus, you’ll burn fat (read: You’ll burn STORED fat) for up to forty-eight hours after one class. No, that’s not a typo, I really mean you’ll dip into your fat stores (for energy) for TWO DAYS after ONE hour-long class! Find a studio in your area and sign up for a free class here. Anyone in the tri-state area? Email me, lets take a class together. Also, there’s a studio in Dallas if anyone wants to give it a whirl during our meet up. Its 11 minutes from our hotel.
3. Simple Breathing Technique to Relax In Just Minutes
I like to use this exercise while waiting to be processed at visit. After all of these years, its still a very stressful morning for me. You can try it while in the waiting room at the doctor, before a client call or big meeting or in line at the grocery store. You can try it anywhere.
4. Easy Heart Healthy Snack Recipe
Tonight I’m going to a pro hockey game (Go Rangers). You won’t catch me near the nasty, crap food at the concession stands. I have this easy snack packed in my mini cross-body bag. Its also a GREAT one to bring on the road with you to visit (@Squirrel and Ariel remember my healthy eating on the road videos).
Homemade Salty, Sweet Trail Mix
Throw all ingredients together in a large Tupperware. Shake until mixed well. Portion into snack sized Ziploc bags. Throw in your purse for a heart healthy, on-the-go snack. The more you prepare, the less likely you’ll be to reach for greasy, processed bag or boxed food.
Stay healthy. Stay Strong. Love Strong.