February is American Heart month and that got me thinking about all the different aspects that are involved in having//maintaining a healthy heart. It really is no different than living a healthy lifestyle all around. For some, the healthy heart lifestyle may seem hard or challenging, and for others it might look like a lifestyle they already live. It all comes down to habits.
1.a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
Here are some of the healthy habits I have adopted along the way, that also aide in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Stress Less: We live in a world where stress is constantly chasing us around like an annoying little gnat. Learning how to recognize signs of stress, how it affects you, and ways to deal with it are all super important to living a healthy lifestyle with a happy heart. Stress affects everyone differently && how one handles it can look very different too. For instance, I like to run and do yoga when I feel myself getting stressed. Whereas others might go for a massage or venture outdoors. Find what works for you and make time to do it.
- Sleep: Getting enough shut eye has so many great benefits. It aides in less stress, which we just talked about. It improves memory, lengthens your life, curbs inflammation, which reduces diabetes, heart attacks, and arthritis. And it helps with weight loss. I, for one, make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and when I don’t I notice a difference with everything.
- NO SMOKING: This one needs no further explanation. I say to each his own. I, however, have never smoked in my life. I find no purpose in it. It is one of the
unhealthiest habits out there, and it destroys lives.
- Less Alcohol: I am the last person to talk about drinking with, because I don’t drink, like EVER. All I know is it is something many find pleasure in, which is great. Sometimes I wish I could drink, and enjoy it like everyone else. I’m not saying to completely cut out alcohol from your life, but it should be greatly decreased in the amount and how often it is consumed.
- Get Your Omega-3’s: These fatty acids are so important. Now that I am pregnant, I have been paying more attention to these little gems. They decrease triglyceride levels (the stuff that aides in body fat), they slow the rate of plaque build up in the heart, and they lower blood pressure. You don’t even need to take a supplement to get them. Salmon && flax seed are my favorite ways to sneak it into my daily regimen.
- Exercise More: Sometimes this is the hardest change for people to make, but it was the one change I made that made the biggest difference in my life. You don’t need to be a fitness genius to get the right amount of exercise. Just 30-60 minutes, on most days, will change your life in a big way. Walk, swim, bike, stretch, lift weights, it doesn’t matter. JUST GET MOVING!
- Fruits & Veggies: I cannot stress enough the importance of proper nutrition. Am I the perfect eater? Not even close. Do I do diet fads? No way Jose! I eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, healthy grains & red meatless proteins. Now that I am pregnant, I’ve been forced into eating red meat, but generally, I do not eat it. I don’t even like it! I try to avoid sodium && processed foods, as well. If I want a bar of some kind, I usually make my own, or buy ones with 4 or less ingredients. I also keep track of my macros using myfitnesspal. It is a free app that makes keeping a food diary as easy as can be. It is a blessing in disguise, but also a curse to have a serious sensitive digestive system. I can’t eat foods like pizza, or that have a high fat content, because it literally kills me and causes me a lot of pain. It makes eating cleaner a heck of alot easier. I still have cookies and chips, but they happen in rare forms, otherwise I become a big time complainer, who cries about stomach pains. It’s not fun to be around!
So yeah, there ya have it. If living a heart healthy lifestyle is new to you, please feel free to contact me, I’d be happy to help you! Pick one thing on this list you want to work on, and go at it with all of your heart [pun intended 🙂 ]. If you feel like you already live this lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to add your own ideas. I am always on the hunt for new recipes and exercise ideas. Don’t forget to wear your RED this month and show your support for the American Heart Association.