3 Simple Ways You Can Protect Your Heart

3 simple ways you can protect your heartAs a special needs mom of two kids who have heart issues, it’s all too easy for me to become consumed with their health concerns. Heart issues don’t disappear after surgery and they aren’t fixed with meds. It’s a hard reality that parents of kids with CHD have to live with.

One lesson that I’ve learned from my experience is that as a mom and caregiver, I can’t neglect my own health in the process. One the things I remember most vividly from my son’s open heart surgery at two months of age was the amount of families in the waiting room who had adult loved ones who were also undergoing come kind of cardiac procedure (adult and pediatric critical care shared the same waiting room at that time.)

This made me realize how common place heart issues were. But I was younger then and it was easy to slip back into bad habits. Then at the end of last year I got a wake up call — my blood pressure was trending higher and my cholesterol numbers were awful. As a special needs mom, I want to be around for my children for as long as I can be.

Here’s some lifestyle changes I’ve recently made to protect my heart and as a result, have already resulted in a 10 point drop in my blood pressure.

Whole Foods Diet

This doesn’t have to be miserable. Use everything in moderation and make it a point to add heart healthy foods to your diet each day so that they naturally begin to replace unhealthy foods. Healthy food choices include foods such as seeds and grains, omega-3 fish, fruits and veggies, beans and grass fed beef. You can even enjoy dark chocolate in moderation. For me, I achieve best results when I eliminate sugar completely and minimize grains.

Exercise

With so many of us spending increased amounts of time on computer screens, sedentary lifestyles have become the norm. In order to become more active, you’ll probably have to plan for it each day at a time that works best for you. That may be first thing in the morning, after work, or movement breaks spread throughout the day. The important thing is that you get moving.

Stress Management

Stress is the number one enemy of a healthy lifestyle. We all have to live with it, but if we don’t learn how to manage it, it will have an extremely negative impact on your health. Start by reducing it where you can. Time management stresses out many people. If you’re spending your days rushing around to work, after school activities to various appointments, you probably feel like you never have a spare minute. Re-evaluate your schedule. Simplify whenever you can.

Find ways to help you calm down when things feel like they’re out of control. Deep breathing techniques, prayer, meditation and yoga will help you manage stress effectively.

Know what your triggers are. Find a way to manage it better with a new and different reaction to it.

By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you should start to feel better and experience an improvement in your overall health.

Banker’s Healthcare Group has provided this helpful infographic to help you protect your heart by taking charge of your cardiovascular health.
protect your heart

How to Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals

how to set realistic weight loss goals

Losing that extra weight isn’t easy, is it? Many of us have spent years trying the latest and greatest diet or nutritional plan only to fail miserably. The reality is that no matter how seductive the hype might be for that hot new diet book, it’s still going to be hard work. You may not see results immediately and you’ll have to persevere through the good and bad days.

If that sounds discouraging to you, read on. The most effective tool that many people have found to successfully lose weight and maintain it is to set smart weight loss goals. What makes a goal a smart one?

Stay Focused

Many of us are struggling with insulin resistance, hormonal fluctuation and a flagging metabolism from years of yo-yo dieting and other bad habits. It’s easy to become discouraged when the scale stalls. No matter which nutritional plan you choose, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to have to develop better eating habits and making an effort to move more. These are big lifestyle changes and it’s going to take awhile before they become ingrained habits. As you get started, you’ll need to focus on practicing your new habits daily while focusing on your goal at the same time. If you have a big picture of the reasons why you want to lose weight, you’ll find it easier to keep that focus.

Here are a few questions to think about. Do you want to live a long, healthy life? Do you want to set a good example for your kids and be there for them as long as you can? Will you have a better quality of life if you make these changes? Find that focus and use it to reach your goals before this new lean lifestyle becomes a habit.

Be Specific

Just saying that you really need to lose weight isn’t enough. You’re going to have to take specific action. Begin by setting a realistic weight loss goal (realistic means you probably won’t be able to go back to your high school weight.) Look at a good ideal height and weight chart to help set a reasonable starting goal, and you’ll know how many pounds you need to lose. It’s important to track inches too. Sometimes when the scale stalls it can be encouraging to see an improvement on the tape measure. The only way you’ll know when you’ve reached your goal (or at least are well on your way) is to have a set number in mind to reach. Otherwise, while you might make progress, you’ll never reach your goal.

Set A Deadline

Have you ever heard the saying that goals without deadlines are just dreams? Without a deadline, you have nothing to shoot for. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Even if you have a specific weight loss goal, like 25 pounds, if you don’t set your course it could take years…or never. Smart goals have realistic deadlines. Losing 25 pounds in the next 6 months is a smart goal with a deadline. However, give yourself some grace and flexibility as some people are just slow losers for a variety of reasons. If it’s just a couple of pounds a month that you’re losing, rejoice in that success.

How to set realistic weight loss goalsCelebrate Your Victories

Changing your eating habits and getting your body moving isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been inactive for a long time. Stay motivated by breaking your big goal into smaller mini-goals and celebrate your victories along the way. If your end goal is to lose 25 pounds in 6 months, break it down into 5 pound increments. When you meet that mini-goal, do something nice or fun to celebrate it. (Just try not to use food as a reward.)

Get Real

Don’t set crazy, unrealistic goals. You’ll get discouraged and possibly quit if you don’t meet them. Losing 100 pounds in 3 months won’t happen no matter how fast your metabolism is. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, set yourself up for success with goals that you know you can reach with a bit of a stretch.

And if you cave into temptation? Don’t get discouraged about it. The folks at Trim Healthy Mama say that your next healthy meal is just three hours away. Isn’t that better than the all-or-nothing thinking so many of us struggle with? Life is going to happen and sometimes there’s no way to say no to that slice of pizza (or in my case, two or three). The important thing is to pick yourself right back up and keep working towards your goals.

Stay Accountable

Find someone to have your back. In this day and age, it’s easy enough to find on social media. Form a group with some of your friends who share your weight loss goal, or go find an existing one. Trim Healthy Mama has many (many) Facebook groups for women from all walks of life. It’s really encouraging that I can get on there at any time and get an instant boost.

I’m three weeks into my eating plan and am not feeling deprived or frustrated. The numbers aren’t moving as fast as I’d like but the overall goal is working toward better health. How are your health goals going?

 

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