This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association. All opinions are 100% mine.
Last week I read an article about a woman who didn’t die of a heart attack. I know that sounds weird. Why was there an article about a woman who DIDN’T die of a heart attack? Because she should have. That’s why. She was a healthy woman, not terribly old, took good care of herself. But she woke up one morning feeling a bit ill. It was only her husband’s insistence that she get checked out by a doctor that made her go to a hospital, and they caught her at the very beginning of a heart attack that would have killed her. Reading her story gave me goosebumps. It could so easily happen to anyone.
My parents and siblings all struggle with high blood pressure. My father has been in the hospital several times for heart-related scares. My cousin has suffered two heart attacks. My husband’s father died of a heart attack a year before we met, and my kids never got to know him. With so many people taken too young, it is so important for us to recognize the dangers and work toward the goal of making ourselves heart healthy. When our first son was born, my husband lost 50 lbs because he knew he wanted to be around for longer than his dad was. His example was a shining light for me. Even now, he makes going to the gym a priority, and he even takes all three boys with him to make sure they see the example he is setting. Exercise, healthy eating and taking care of yourself.
Now it is my turn. Three kids in four years has taken its toll on my body. It’s not just that I’m overweight – it’s that I have suffered from low energy, bad sleep and some high blood pressure and tachycardia since my youngest son’s birth. I am not going to sit around and let life pass me by. I want to be an active participant! So I put together these 5 Simple ways to Make a Change and Be Heart Healthy. I hope they can be helpful to all of us!
Sleep Yourself Healthy!
Studies have shown that poor quality sleep has a detrimental effect on your heart health! While the exact time we need varies from person to person, but you should be aiming for around 7 hours per night. Too little or too much can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems!
We all think we know how to eat well and be healthy. We see fruits and veggies as good and everything else as bad. The truth is that there is more to it than that. Eating fruits and vegetables is great, but you also need unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods. Cut back on added sugars and saturated fats. Limit your sodium intake. And try eating fish a couple times a week! And don’t forget your healthy fats (yes, there are such things!).
Again, we all have this picture in our head of what exercise entails. We see gyms and sweaty bodies and us huffing and puffing our way through aerobics. But the truth is that you can choose other ways and see the same benefit. Go for a family walk to the park and then spend 20 minutes running around after your kids! You won’t even notice how tired you are because you’re having so much fun together.
Switch it Up!
I know lots of people who chew sugar-free gum instead of smoking. They need to be doing something with their mouths, so they choose a healthier alternative. Find something to take the place of a bad habit. Want to eat some calorific treat? Go brush your teeth instead! Want to veg out watching TV? Grab an arm weight and do some reps while you watch. Find a replacement activity so you never find yourself bored.
Find Your Why!
If you want to stay motivated to live a heart healthy life, you need to find your “why” – your reason for living a healthier, longer life. When my husband got fit, his reason was that he wanted to live longer than his father had. For me? My kids are why. I want their childhoods to be amazing, with a mom and dad who can not only keep up with them, but challenge them every day! I want them to see me loving life and always being a part of the world. And I want to live long enough to meet their children and their children’s children!
Check out Life Is Why and make yourself an awesome image to help express your “why.” Here’s mine:
Moms have the power to make REAL change in this world. And I want to encourage all of you to join the movement and make healthy living a priority for yourselves and your families. The more moms that join in, the bigger our impact will be. Moms united can make the change. You can even join me over in the Moms Unite Facebook Group which is a community of moms sharing healthy recipes, tips and inspiration. The American Heart Association created this group to promote honest conversation about motherhood, health and wellness. You can even follow them on Pinterest for healthy recipes and mom hacks that make living a healthier life easier.
What are some of your best tips and tricks for living healthier? Leave a comment below, and I’ll add them to this post!