This week’s top 10 post is inspired by my stepfather who is recovering from open heart surgery. It’s been very hard on him and my mom and we still have a long way to go. I feel so helpless.
Writing this is one way I’m dealing.
10. Don’t just know what’s good for you … EAT IT! The first tip on the AHA website is to choose a healthy eating plan. I have no doubt there are some people out there that don’t know what that means but I’m going to bet if you are reading this, you do. Of course you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars and sweeteners. Fiber is good. Whole grains. Fish. Nuts. Beans. Seeds. You know you should limit sugar-sweetened beverages. The problem isn’t that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t put into practice what we know. Listen, it’s not about eating “perfectly,” it’s about eating better. Just remember making small changes is better than doing nothing at all.
9. Get off the darn couch! As someone who used to LOATHE exercise in any form I speak from experience when I say just make an effort to walk. Take the stairs. Park far away. Look for active leisure activities. I sit ALL DAY for work and I’m going to bet many of you do to. We don’t realize how inactive we are because we are tired from working, but unfortunately that work is normally inactive. I know it’s hard but once you start to make the effort to simply move your body more you realize how awesome it is. My advice is to not worry about how many minutes of this or that… just MOVE! Then let inertia take over. It worked for me.
8. Get to know your doctor. I think we need a complete culture shift about going to the doctor. Maybe I’m the only one but when I go in for my well visit I always get this “why are you here” vibe. It’s like nurses and doctors don’t want or expect to see you until you’re sick. BUT if we all start to go for physicals regularly, if we all take time out of our busy schedules NOW, then maybe we won’t have too see them too much later. Prevention and early detection are important!
7. Smoking? Come on! Listen, we all have our vices and part of me thinks in a small way vices can be healthy. We need to feel like we are living life, indulging, enjoying the simple things that give us pleasure. However, if you are smoking regularly (like SOME people I know) it’s time to make a change. Do some soul searching and really look at what that cigarette is doing for you and find other ways to meet that need. It’s just not worth it.
6. Create a Healthy Culture. I love seeing families take walks to the park by my house or the 2 cyclists who ride around my neighborhood on the weekends. When I take my son to his indoor soccer games, the old bucks playing tennis make me smile. The other day (when we actually had nice weather) I saw a father throwing pitches to his son in their back yard. I don’t care how you do it — walk, play, plant a garden, go for a hike — but help be a part of a healthy culture.
5. Keep Stress in Check. This is much easier said than done, but you can control how much stress is in your life. Try to remember things don’t necessarily happen TO you — they just happen. How you react to them is about the only thing in your control. So take a lot of deep breaths, remember you always have something to grateful for and do your best to go with the flow. Life will never be perfect so there’s no use stressing when it isn’t.
4. Scale or no Scale, Watch Your Weight. I don’t think you need to become completely preoccupied with a certain number on the scale — I mean you guys know my history with this — but you should be in tune with your body enough to know whether or not you are starting to pack on the pounds, especially as you age.
3. Do You Snore? I didn’t know this but according to the AHA, One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
2. Know the Warning Signs. Did you know that women can have different heart attack symptoms than men? These are the signs the AHA have on their website:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
1. Eat Chocolate! I’m kidding. Boy, how I wish chocolate was a calorie-free cure-all for everything! In all seriousness, the best way to prevent heart disease is to do all of these things listed and know your family history. All the men in my stepfather’s family have had heart issues. My grandfather had heart disease. The Husband’s family also has a history. His 37-year-old female cousin recently had a heart attack.
Newsflash: I’m 37!
I may have started this blog because I wanted to lose weight but what I’ve gained is a completely different perspective about my health and as I age that is becoming more and more important to me.
All of that heart talk being said, I hit the chocolate a little too much tonight. It was my way of dealing with stress. Guess I’ll always be a work in progress.
Get better Grandpa. We miss you.