Since Valentine's Day is all about love and hearts ❤️, I am going to give you four easy, simple tools you can do to get the most bang for your buck in taking care of that actual heart that is beating inside your body.
1. EAT WELL
There are too many diets to count, each one promising to make us skinnier and healthier than the last. But one diet that has proven the test of time for heart health is the Mediterranean Diet. This plan is balanced, moderate, flavorful, and proven to be good for heart health.
Here are the key components:
Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
Enjoying meals with family and friends
Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
Getting plenty of exercise (this is a good segue to number 2: 😉)
No surprise here. Your heart is a muscle. The phrase Move It or Lose It applies to your heart as well as to the rest of your body. But here is something you may not know, the movement that you make in your daily life counts as much as the 30 minutes of exercise you do once a day!
Get your heart pumping exercise, the sweat and the endorphin rush will make you feel great. But then get up and move every hour during your day. Just a quick 5 minutes will increase the oxygen flow to your heart and lungs.
3. CHILL OUT
From workout to chill out 😎. Learning to let the little stresses in life not get you down will help that heart not to have to work overtime. A stressful situation sets off a chain of events.
Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation — the "fight or flight" response. We don't normally do either of those, we just stuff our emotions or take it out on someone nearby. When stress is constant, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Nothing good happens in the body when that occurs.
Did I save the best for last 😴? “Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease,” says Dr. Arthur Agatston. It can also rev up your stress hormones and make you depressed, another risk factor for heart disease. Ideally, we want to get 6-8 hours of sleep at night.
So practice the behaviors that allow your body to wind down and get ready for sleep. Stop your screen time at least an hour before bed, keep your room cool and eliminate those blue light chargers, and put some lavender essential oil in a diffuser or on your pillow.
Lastly, remember, it's not about feeling guilty over what you're not doing. It's about celebrating what you are doing and loving yourself enough to add the others into your routine!