February is not only the month for romantic love and cute little Valentines but American Heart Month. It is important to focus on our actual hearts and keep them as healthy and strong as possible.
Family History and Racial Background
I became more aware of my own heart health when my father passed away from heart disease. Later discovering it was a family condition as my paternal grandfather and uncle all died of the same thing. Then just a few months ago my older cousin died of a heart condition. So, you see how important this issue is for me.
To add extra fuel to the fire, I am more at risk as a Black working age adult. Black Americans are twice as likely to die from hart conditions as other racial groups. Now, knowing all of these factors could be depressing. But knowledge is power. When you know something you can do something. So, what am I doing? Well, besides blabbing about it here on my blog, here are 4 tips I am making to have a healthier heart.
1. Check My Blood Pressure
For years I have struggled with high blood pressure. It has been one of those things I don’t get too discouraged by but work on constantly. I know that adding extra stress to my life by worrying will only increase it.
I know that high blood pressure is directly connected to having a healthy heart thus avoiding heart attacks and disease. As a matter of fact, the American Heart Association says the excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly become narrowed from plaque causing a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances.
I mitigate this challenge by using an accessible blood pressure monitor and knowing my numbers. My blood pressure monitor talks and gives my numbers audibly. I record them on an Excel spreadsheet so I can monitor any fluctuations. But tracking these numbers is not enough. You gotta know What they represent and how they connect to yor life. So, I have learned what the top and bottom numbers mean and if my pressure is high or normal.
2. Exercise on a Regular Basis
back in 2003 I created a home gym. I had stopped going to gyms long ago when I lost my vision because they weren’t very accessible. All my equipment is placed right in front of my entertainment center so I can either watch TV or listen to my music CDs while I work out. I have even placed one of my audiobook players nearby to listen while I exercise.
On a typical week I work out about 3-4times alternating between my treadmill, exercise bike, floor mat and hand weights. I am still making efforts to lose weight but I feel so much better that I created my own home gym to exercise. Whether it rains, snows or is sunny outside it does not matter. Whether a friend comes to workout with me it does not matter. I have everything I need set up in my home so I can do it independently and when I want.
3. Eating More Plant Based Meals
I made changes to my meal plan and have move more into a plant base diet. This change surprisingly has been easy because fruits and vegetables are my jam. Typically, I eat a salad everyday as part of my lunch. Filling my salad bowl with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and even green bell peppers and onions with a sprinkling of chopped nuts.
I also have added more flavor to my cooking . I use no salt seasonings and spices. When I do break out the saltshaker it is a low sodium variety. Once my food is seasoned I sometimes use an air frier for cooking instead of always using my gas stove. My air frier has been a God sent because I can get that crunchy texture without the fatty oil.
4. Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Anger
It is easy for us to just deal with the physical things in life. We can read all the tips and tricks to have a healthy heart. Yet, miss the stress cues. Living everyday is hard and stuff piles up causing anxiety and even anger. Staying calm and relaxed is hard to do when stressed out.
Like in the AA meetings, I recognize I have a problem. I don’t deny what I am feeling. Next I pray and give it to God. Admittedly, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes I will journal and release it on the computer page. I will also call up a trusted friend and vent. Yes, it is good to release some occasional steam. Especially with a person who gives you a save space and can relate.
Regardless of your family history or racial background having a healthy heart is critical to survival. Can you feel the beat? Now that you know What I am doing to keep my heart healthy share your tips and tricks too.