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We are a few days into Heart Month and it got me thinking. How do you live heart healthy? Are you a runner? Do you use an activity or fitness tracker to count your steps?
Living healthy doesn’t mean you have to become a marathon runner. The biggest part of living healthy comes down to making healthy choices. Don’t think that being healthy means missing out on all the good stuff! Healthy choices can be satisfying as the unhealthy ones. But you have to learn which choices are healthy and which ones aren’t.
On the move
Exercising on a regular basis can sound great – in theory. But when it comes to actually doing it, are you someone who will find anything possible to occupy your time instead? Exercise can be as simple as walking briskly for 30 minutes a day. What about the housecleaning you did to procrastinate your workout? Believe it or not, that counts as exercise, too. You don’t have to go for an actual run to get a runner’s high.
As for me, you will find me on the pavement running, in the gym lifting or doing something outdoors with my ever growing lil man. I may not run miles and miles training for long distance races, but I do my best to run about 3 miles about three times a week.
I keep track of my workouts day in and day out. Numbers to help guide my progress. Do you track yours?
Eating heart healthy
Did you know that you can be a meat and potatoes kind of gal and still eat heart healthy? Seriously! It comes down to making smart substitutions and adjusting the traditional ways dishes are prepared.
Almonds and berries are nice, but when you’re craving a snack those things don’t do much. It’s really the salty and sugary things you crave. The same is true when dining out.
While your head is saying, “Oh potato chips,” or your mouth waters at the thought of the amazing steak, your heart is begging you to say no. And you should listen. This doesn’t mean, however, that your taste buds should suffer in the process. There are ways to make minor adjustments that can make all the difference when it comes to a heart healthy foods.
My favorite things to make are chicken bowls, tacos and fajitas. I have swapped bell peppers for tortillas. I also have ditched the rice when I am on a low carb day and added more lettuce.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Sleep is also a part of having a healthy heart. It is long said that we need 8 hours each night. Do you get 8 hours? According to the American Heart Association, studies have found that most people need six to eight hours of sleep each day and that too little or too much can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Do you have trouble falling asleep? Not me. I try to be in bed by 10 p.m. every night because training starts early in the morning. I will go to bed earlier if I need to because if not, I can not function well.
The heart is significantly impacted when the body doesn’t get enough sleep. People who are sleep deprived have slower metabolism and difficulty losing weight. The positive effects of a good sleep are evident when we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
I will admit that I am not always bright eyed and bushy tailed regardless of how much I sleep. But after a few steps, I am better. Sometimes I’m not good until the lil man is out the door to the bus and I am on my way to the gym.
Staying or getting active, eating healthy and getting a good amount of sleep are key ingredients to it all. What it looks like for you may be different than what it looks like for me. The point is to do what works for you.
What does living heart healthy mean to you?