Updated: Feb 5
Did you know February is Healthy Heart Month?
It's a great time to explore a few simple ways you can support a healthy heart and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease!
It may surprise you to hear that heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, are the number one killer of men and women in the U.S.
Wowzers, that's staggering!
But I have good news: there are 3 things you can do -- starting right now today -- to support a healthy heart and reduce your risk of disease. And they're easier than you think!
You've heard it all before, and it's true! A well-balanced diet delivers essential vitamins and minerals, supports healthy body function, and a healthy waistline. All key for reducing your risk of heart disease.
But where to start? A balance of lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats along with plenty of fruits and vegetables. And don't worry. Eating healthier doesn't mean you have cut out all the foods you love! Using healthy portion sizes and watching your daily calories will help you have your cake and eat it too (you just can't have that cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner!)
Know what you're eating. When you're reading those nutrition labels a good rule of thumb is if you don't recognize an ingredient, your body probably won't either. And just as important is watching serving sizes. Many of today's portions are double and even triple what they were just 5 years ago! And all those calories add up quick.
Make some simple food swaps. Replace whole milk with a low-fat or non-fat milk option, steer toward lean proteins like chicken, fish, and legumes and limit consumption of red meat, and use olive oil and coconut oils in place of butter, margarine or heavy creams when cooking. These are super simple swaps that will help you support a healthy waistline and deliver more quality nutrients to your body. For a few more healthy food swaps, check out my 7 Ways To Eat Healthier Today.
Minimize the amount of processed foods you're consuming, and not only will you save on empty calories, but the 'bad' fats, added sugars and salt too. A simple way to start is by reducing how often your eating food from a box, bag or fast food restaurant. Typically these kinds of foods are highly processed and loaded with all sorts of preservatives, additives and host of unhealthy ingredients.
You know it does a body good, but it goes much deeper than that! Your heart is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body it benefits from regular physical activity. But what many people don't realize is that consistent exercise is not just good for boosting muscle, it has been shown to help reduce risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. All of which put you at high risk for heart disease.
And as you may have guessed, these benefits are even greater when practiced with other healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as a healthy diet, and reducing daily stress.
But how much exercise do you need? The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week. Sound like a lot? Break it up into manageable bit size chunks. As I like to tell my clients, "10 minutes always trumps no minutes!" In my experience, people spend a ton of time thinking about it rather than just doing it. The quickest way to make it happen is to simply lace up, get up and MOVE!
Make it FUN. Getting in daily exercise doesn't have to feel like a chore... it can be a reward! If you like yoga, do yoga. Enjoy being outdoors? Go for a walk, bike ride or hike. Love feeling strong and fit? Lift some weights. There are all sorts of ways to get moving. Try a few different types of exercise and soon you'll find your stride!
Stress is a killer. Literally. Chronic daily stress wears on your physical, mental and spiritual health. And over time this adds strain your heart. How do you know if your stress level is running a bit too high? When was the last time you felt or even said "I'm Stressed!!" That's a good place to start. And if you find you're feeling that way frequently, it's time to explore a few ways to combat it with healthier habits.
How can you begin to reduce the amount of stress in your day-to-day life? Mindful practices encourage being in the moment, rather than focusing on the stress of the past or worrying about the future, which is typically where most of our stress lies. Practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and journaling have all been found to greatly reduce stress. And the best part is you don't need to devote hours to reap the benefits. In just 10 minutes a day you can make a positive impact on your health.
Engaging in regular mindful practice will help you begin to see things more clearly, helping you to reframe your perspective, see the positive, and problem solve with greater clarity.
And if that's not great enough, studies also show regularly leaning on stress reduction practices can help lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension, and even produce a state of calm both in the present moment and during future times of stress. Seems like some pretty good reasons to Zen out to me!
Making healthy changes can feel daunting and overwhelming when you're first starting out. Start by making one small change, such as drinking more water, swapping sugary cereal for oats, or moving your body for 10 minutes a day. It may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up! And one healthy choice often leads to another, so each small step you take, you're more likely to be inspired to take another. Keep going, you've got this!
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, struggling with willpower, and hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it right so that you can lose weight, get healthy, fit and feel like you again? Come join me inside my free women-only Facebook Community - Slim & Trim with Coach Mindy. It's for women who are ready to ditch boring diets forever and create sustainable habits for weight loss, enjoying balanced food and fitness, so that they can lose weight, live healthy, and become the best version of themselves!