It’s February. Heart health month.
What I want to do is scribble all over the facts about how poorly we are taking care of our heart in this nation; about why so many frustratingly controllable factors are at fault for putting heart disease in the No. 1 spot on the list for what is killing Americans.
- Poor lifestyle habits and choices
- We sit too much—we are not exercising our hearts
- We eat highly fatty and other processed foods
laden with bad cholesterol, sugar and processed grains
- We don't eat foods that support heart health
nearly regularly enough
- We are motivated by convenience more than health
- Food industries that thrive financially on processed, fatty and nonnutritive foods
- The cost of healthy foods are too high and junk food is too low
- A lack of education –and a lack of desire to get educated
- The perpetuation of the problem by parents who feed their children the same junk that they have been eating and so the next generation is expected to have even poorer statistics than we do
Frustrating. There are more culprits of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular illnesses, etc. than what are listed above. Of course genetics, biology and accessibility to resources certainly also play important roles.
But why are we not taking an active role in changing what we can? Year after year the problem is the same……or worse. Year after year there initiatives are started by companies, the government, schools, and other organizations to improve the state of our hearts in America. But results just don’t stick.
So rather than continuing to look outside of ourselves, let’s begin to look within. What can you do? What resources do you have? How can you improve your heart?
Let’s call this what it is: Personal Responsibility.
When my husband was alive, I remember on multiple occasions saying to him, ‘you cannot control what anyone else does, so let’s make a choice about OUR OWN actions and reactions’.
I could have been talking about other not-so-conscientious drivers on the road, about someone who unjustly spread some gossip or even a frustrating local political issue. But it goes for our heart’s health too.
In our own homes we can start attending to matters of the heart, literally!
- Instead of making the excuse of not exercising because it was too snowy to get to the gym or you cannot afford the treadmill you want, think of ways you can exercise (dance, clean, shovel, do an exercise video). I cannot tell you the number of times I have to muster up the motivation to have a dance party with my girls because I missed my workout that day. Everyone wins—I get my exercise and they have fun (and think that mommy is so much fun, wink, wink!)
- Instead of mindlessly grocery shopping, do a little research to get some fresh ideas about what you can look for in the grocery store. Start experimenting with more fresh foods, convenient yet HEALTHY choices (yes, they exist) and swapping bakery goods for alternative sweet treats (berries with a bit of dark chocolate drizzled over it is a divine place to start!)
- Instead of focusing on convenience when it comes to eating and exercise, start focusing on ways that you can use food and movement to benefit your body. Just put food and exercise into an entirely different framework. Who said that convenience was the most important factor in this life anyways!? In fact, I believe that more joy and satisfaction is found when we savor the moments and the ‘process’ of things. Many times convenience just cuts corners and shaves off a little time or effort.
That last point, once again, makes me think of my husband before he died. He was the most unconventional guy I knew! If he wanted to make something happen, he did no matter how unconventional or inconvenient.
Thinking about how hard he worked to get his little girls to smile (literally cartwheels for a 6 month old or parading in the rain with a huge umbrella for a 3 year old), what he preparations he would go through to host his bonfire events in the back yard or how much work he would put into a surprise for me makes me chuckle and shake my head.
Not to get off point, but that’s what I want for you when it comes to your heart! Think about the valued results, the joy of health and the improved quality of life you will savor when you make choices on behalf of your heart.
You have one heart. One life. Celebrate it, value it and take matters into your own heart (and hands).