As Americans we typically associate the month of February with hearts and love because of Valentine’s Day, which we just celebrated last Friday. But, what you may not know is that February is also a month about educating yourself and your loved ones about our risks for heart disease and how to stay “heart healthy”.
Most Americans do not realize that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, so I think it’s very important for all of us to learn how to keep our big hearts healthy. I did a bit of research myself, and found some great strategies to prevent heart disease from the following websites: Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association and Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center.
White Coat Syndrome
In recognition of Heart Month, I’ve decided to share a personal story with you guys.
A few years ago, Brett was learning how to take a patient’s blood pressure while he was in Nursing school. As expected, he took my blood pressure for extra practice, and quickly noted that my results were perfect…120/80.
Afterwards, I began asking him multiple questions about why it was important to monitor blood pressure. He responded by explaining that high blood pressure can damage your heart and blood vessels, and that most people call it the silent killer since we cannot feel our blood pressure rising.
So, a few weeks later, my blood pressure was a bit higher than normal when I went to donate blood. It concerned me for a little while, but I told myself it was probably because I had a stressful, busy day at the office. Over the next few months, I noticed it steadily rising each time I faced a blood pressure test…so finally, I decided to make an appointment with my doctor.
The good news is that I was fine and only experiencing a bit of anxiety. Yes, I had white coat syndrome.
I know it seems a bit silly, but I’m so thankful for this scare since it gave me a reality check about the seriousness behind high blood pressure and heart disease. I visited the doctor every six months for the next two years while monitoring my blood pressure at home. My doctor congratulated me on my efforts in the gym, but also educated me on the importance of maintaining a heart healthy diet.
Of course I thought I was already maintaining a pretty decent diet since I ate either a salad or lean cuisines for lunch. Little did I know that the dressing I used and the frozen dinners were loaded with sodium. I started to put more thought into my daily meals, and mainly started cooking with only fresh products. I basically started including more fruits and vegetables to my daily diet, while choosing lower sodium labeled products. I also started adding daily vitamins as well as fish oil capsules to my routine as well.
I know you must be thinking that I’m too young to have these issues, and I’m also no where near being obese. The truth is that I didn’t think these things either, but you are never too young or too fit to start preventing yourself from heart disease. So, please check out my suggested links, and start educating yourself towards a healthier heart. Although it took me a few years, I’m happy to report to you guys that I’m no longer afraid of the blood pressure cuff.
Fortunately, my current job enables me to get involved in such organizations as the American Heart Association. Each year, my employer donates a certain amount to the organization’s Heart Walk. Myself and a few other fellow co-workers participate in the walk each year. The money raised for this event helps to fund the valuable research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.
And speaking of local organizations…I have also gotten the opportunity to work very closely with The United Way of Acadiana, and actually attended their Award’s Breakfast this morning. For the past two years, my employer has held a Chili Cook-off in the month of November. All the money raised at the event goes directly to the United Way. According to The United Way of Acadiana’s website, their vision is “To unite people and organizations with passion, expertise and resources to create more opportunities for a better life”.
Last year I was given the opportunity to be the spokesperson for our annual Chili Cook-off, so this Award’s Breakfast was a huge honor to me. Our company was able to raise more than $42,000 for the organization this past year through the event.
There I am with Margaret, President and CEO of United Way of Acadiana, spreading the word on a morning show on KLFY, a local news station, about the Chili Cook-off last November.
And there I am again talking to the press during the event.
I feel so blessed for the opportunities to work with such great organizations through my job. It was an absolute honor to be a part of the breakfast this morning, and to witness the recognition of so many other individuals throughout our community. Although my main goals through this blog are to bring awareness about health and fitness, I also enjoy helping those in the community as much as possible when given the opportunity. It truly is the best form of happiness.
For lunch today I had leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Last night, I cooked brined pork chops and sweet onions with a side of kale-potato mash. I found the recipe for this dish in my Real Simple magazine.
I actually enjoyed this meal much more reheated today for some reason. I especially loved the kale-potato mash. If you have never cooked kale at home, I highly recommend steaming this leafy veggie instead of roasting.
After work today I headed over to the gym. In honor of this post about American Heart Month, I decided to do a cardio based workout. According to the American Heart Association website, “To be healthy, do 150 minutes of moderate to strenuous cardiovascular activity every week”. Today I completed the following Get Your Heart Rate Up Circuit after a 10 minute warm-up on the elliptical.
This was a great full-body workout, but I also threw some cardio in the mix to get my heart rate up. It definitely worked, since I was dripping with sweat. The workout took me around 20 minutes to complete.
Well, we are over the hump ladies and gentlemen. Have a great evening!
Are you involved with any local organizations in your area that promote heathly living or a better way of life?
What are you doing in order to keep you heart both happy and healthy?