Besides Valentine’s Day, February also remind of other matters of heart. February is also American Heart Month. It is a great time to remind us of the resolutions we may have set last month or commit to a heart healthy lifestyle beginning now.
About 1 in every 4 deaths in the US is caused by heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for men and women according to the Centers for Disease Control. The American Heart Association has created a movement, Healthy for Good, to inspire lasting change in your life. The key is to do it one step at a time, slow and steady.
Here are some simple steps to consider.
- Eat a rainbow of colors. You have heard this before. The more colors on your plate the more nutritious your meal. Most colorful foods are fruits and vegetables. By making at least half your plate full of colorful fruits and vegetables you are not only increasing your antioxidant intake but also making the meal appealing to your sense of sight. Deep and dark colors, such as dark leafy greens, beets, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, oranges, berries are the nutritious bunch.
- Make educated choices. Learn about good sources of energy, protein, good fat, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains, lean protein (skinless poultry, fish, beans and nuts), unsaturated fats (olive oil, peanut oil, avocados), fruits and vegetables are still the foundation of a heart healthy diet. Learn some basic skills of cooking. Read labels. Even when you eat out ask for the nutritional information of meals. Make the best choice you can.
- Be mindful. Slow down. Breath. Sit down to eat your meals. Eat meals away from your desk. Focus on the mealtime and don’t multitask. Being mindful of the sight, smell, texture and taste of your meal will make it more satisfying. Enjoy every bite!
- Move, move and move. Move until you can’t! Well, almost. Make a plan to intentionally engage in some exercise every day. There are guidelines of making it at least 150 minutes a week but don’t stress over it. Just get started! Even if it is starting to walk the dog. You can split the daily exercise into multiple times. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just do it!
- Enjoy life. While eating better, moving more, learning a new skill and being more mindful don’t forget to enjoy life! What do you love to do? What is your favorite way to spend time with family, with yourself? Make time for the joyful moments in your life. Your personal relationships give far more contentment than reaching any other goal (weight loss, running a marathon, climbing mountains, earning a large salary etc.). Spend time with your loved ones and enjoy life! Your heart will thank you.