February is Heart Health Month!

 

It’s Heart Health MONTH, Y’all!

February is American Heart Month, so it’s a great time to consider what we can DO to decrease your risk of heart disease or heart attack. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in many countries and while there are some risk factors that can’t be controlled, many risk factors can be reduced or eliminated. Here’s a few:

  1. If you smoke, stop! Smoking causes vasoconstriction and increases blood pressure. Of course, smoking may also increase your risk of emphysema and cancer.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Try to fill your plate with colorful, low-processed foods. Avoid fast foods and too many simple carbs like starchy vegetables, over-processed grains, and sugary desserts.
  3. Move your body every single day. Your body is a machine and it’s made to move. So get moving, walking, playing with your kids or grandkids, dancing, cycling, any activity you love, do it!
  4. Stop sitting so much. By now, everyone has heard sitting is the new smoking and research indicates sedentary lifestyles increase our risk of sudden death. Set an alarm as a reminder and get up and move around every hour. Stretch at your desk if you’re sitting for long periods. Take a quick walk on your lunch break. Be creative and think of ways to decrease your “chair time.”
  5. De-stress! That’s not easy in our busy world but make yourself a top priority and create ways to relax and release stress. Deep breathing is a simple and effective way to immediately release stress. Read a book on mindfulness and develop a plan of action for when you’re feeling overly stressed.
  6. Insist on getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is your body’s reboot time and good sleep allows your cells to recharge and repair. Turn those electronics off 1-2 hours before bedtime, develop a sleep routine, and track your sleep to see if you’re getting enough.

Move Heart Health UP on Your To-Do List

In the end, heart health can be connected to our self-love practices. Ladies, we often take care of everyone else, and neglect ourselves. Make your health a high priority and move your heart health activities to the top of your to-do list. If you’re not healthy, those other priorities are going to be hard to achieve!

What’s your favorite heart healthy habit? What’s your biggest challenge? Share below. Celebrate this month by making a plan to improve your heart health and encourage your family, friends, and patients to do the same! Here’s to your heart health! ❤️

Heart Health in 2019

Heart Health Word for 2019: INSPIRE

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about my aspirations and dreams for 2019. One article helped me identify a word or short phrase that represented those dreams for me. My word was “inspire.” As a heart attack and stroke survivor who is also a nurse and health coach, I can’t think of a better word for me in 2019. My dream is to inspire you to create heart health and well-being for yourself. I can’t push you, I can’t pull you, but I can be a lighthouse that guides you and helps keep you on track.

Be-YOU-tiful YOU!

I love this quote because it clears up a struggle I’ve had the past few months. There’s way too much noise out there about CHANGE. We’re always being told what we need to improve, how we need to do this or that better, who we need to be like, on and on…But let me say this to you. I love you BECAUSE you’re you and nobody else on earth can be you! I’ll be here offering guidance and resources to make your journey easier, but don’t you EVER feel like you’re not enough. You are amazing and it’s my honor to serve and inspire you! ❤️

2019 holds so much promise. The sky is the limit! 🚀 #inspire

Let Me Answer My Own Questions

Another Crazy Holiday in the ED

I’ve been an emergency room nurse for over 30 years. I’ve worked many holidays, and for lots of reasons, it’s holiday madness. This past Monday, Labor Day, didn’t disappoint! Craziness! But I made some time last night to answer the questions about health and priorities that I had challenged you to think about over the holiday. Let me share some of my answers to the questions I offered before we move on.

Is Health a Priority to Me?

My top 3 priorities in the big picture of life include daily fellowship with God, loving and serving my family, and improving my health. Health was in my top three! Was it first? No, I didn’t immediately think of health when I started my list. But as I looked at my daily “to-do” list, I could see that health is clearly a daily focus for me. Every day one hour is blocked out for aerobic exercise, Pilates, stretching, and/or strength training. As I write this post, my husband and I are on a journey toward improved health which has sharpened our focus on health eating, physical activity, decreasing stress, and improving our (ok, my) sleep habits.

Is the pursuit of healthy living “too hard” for me? Some days it certainly feels too hard for me. Yesterday was one of those days. As I mentioned earlier, I worked a long, hard day in the ED on Labor Day. I stayed over because we were so busy, I totaled over 15,000 steps all day, and then when I did get home, I wasn’t able to get right to sleep. When I woke up yesterday morning, I’d had about five hours of sleep, and I was tempted to say “forget it” to the exercise bicycle and my stretching routine. Honestly, my hips, my back, and my knees were all screaming in pain from the hard day’s work the day before. In the end, I did do my usual exercise routine, but only after a lot of back and forth in my mind.

How Health Relates to My Other Priorities

As I thought about my list of priorities, I had to consider how difficult it might be to achieve any of my goals if I didn’t have my health. I also thought back to when I had my heart attack and much I wanted to be healthy once I was no longer healthy. Losing your health to chronic illness can certainly change your perspective and your goals. I also considered why I want to be healthy, and the reason relates back to another of my top 3 priorities: my family. So it seems like the priorities are all interconnected and it would certainly be more difficult to achieve many goals in life without one’s health.

In my next post, l’d like to explore how we make choices when it comes to your health. Sometimes doing what’s right is pretty simple. If someone offers me a jelly donut, I’m gonna say no because jelly donuts don’t fit into my healthy living strategy (although I might hesitate for a minute if they offered me a bag of donut holes, but that’s another story!). So the jelly donut is clearly unacceptable to me. What about not getting enough sleep? What about working a stressful job? Do our choices always indicate that we’ve made a commitment to a healthy lifestyle? Or do we turn a blind eye when it’s convenient? Stay tuned!