10 How To's for Heart Health

Celebrating National Heart Health Month … let’s talk about 10 ways to improve your heart health and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

  1. Step number one: When was your last annual check up with your doctor? If it has been over a year, stop reading this and call to set up your appointment. Getting your baseline “blood work” (blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and talking with your doctor about your heart health is foundational.

  2. While you are waiting for the appointment day, start walking 20 minutes a day for 3 days a week. In a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association even “1 hour of walking per week predicted lower risk” of heart disease.

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3. Got that baseline walking as a habit? Then let’s build up the walking to 20 minutes to an hour on 5 days per week. This will lower your risk even more.

4. Trouble fitting in the extra walking? No worries. Your heart doesn’t care how it gets worked, it just wants to get worked. Try cleaning house at a brisk pace or washing your car by hand or push mowing your lawn. Or try these other ideas.

5. Needing some family time? Playing tag and throwing Frisbees can get your heart pumping. (Especially if you are like me - walking to get it when I don’t catch it.)

6. Smoking? Exercise can help you kick the habit. Seek the help you need to stop.

7. An apple a day … or oatmeal … or beans … or nuts/seeds … or even avocados. These are all rich in the type of fiber that helps to lower “bad” cholesterol.

8. Laugh. A. Lot. It is great to help reduce blood pressure…which relates to #9.

9. Stress less. What are your stress triggers? How do you relieve stress? Stress comes at us all, so have a plan.

10. Strength train. Once you have your walking or other heart-pumping exercise in habit, add some strength training to increase your “good” cholesterol. Even two strength training sessions per week will help your heart health.

Questions? Let me know.

6 Reasons Why You Need to Learn to Thrive

While growing up I suspected I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food – and sometimes even exercise.  But it was years later at a work potluck Christmas party that I knew I absolutely had a problem and had to change.

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Everyone else was at the buffet ooh-ing and ah-ing over different dishes colleagues brought. 

I was in the bathroom terrified. 

“If I eat that _____ I’ll have to workout extra tomorrow. Who knows how many grams of ____ it has.”

“I want to try ____ but if I do I’ll probably not be able to stop eating it. I’ll lose control.”

“I’ll be good and just have the veggies I brought.  If I break my diet I’ll be bad.”

I realized I was the only one, apparently, who did not feel she could enjoy the food, the people, or the party and I stayed as far away from the table as possible.  Why?  I thought something was inherently wrong with me. 

Truth? By that party I had spent almost 20 years fine-tuning my “diet mentality,” through the various diet and exercise rules I “learned.”

And I wanted freedom.  Desperately.

I wanted to exercise just because it felt amazing and made me strong and healthy. Not because it burned calories I’d eaten the day before.

I wanted to eat a balanced meal because it was satisfying.

I wanted to enjoy a cookie without fear of eating five.

I wanted to go to a party and enjoy it all.

Scratch that.

I didn’t even know that was possible.  All I could fathom was maybe not being consumed with worrying about every morsel, gram, or repercussion after a party.

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Thankfully, that part of me is a distant memory, because …

I found my path to THRIVE.

Did you see?

I released a brand new course where I’m going to share with you the mindset, principles, techniques, tools and skills practiced by people who find – and follow – their unique path to health, wellness, and a Thriving Life.

It’s called …

THRIVE LIFE (Go here to learn more; we get started in just a few days.)

While there are so many health benefits to this way of life, the most surprising benefit has nothing to do typical health-parameters.

It has to do with relationships and accomplishing other goals.

Huh?

Let me explain.  Envision that same work party where I locked myself away in the bathroom.  If my mind had been free from food-fear, I would have been mingling with colleagues and enjoying getting to know their families, enriching my relationships.

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And when my mental and emotional space is not cluttered with how many calories I eat or burn or how much I do this or that, my mind is free to be creative and pursue dreams.  Plus, there is way less stress.

Here are six reasons why you need to learn your path to THRIVE.

#1 – You stop outsourcing your emotional health to food or over-exercise

You can learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Food was created to bring you pleasure, but it is not what heals hurts or brings peace.

Exercise has many ways that it lifts your mood, but there is a point of using exercise to escape struggles vs. helping you overcome them.

When you sit with discomfort and find what actually fills you emotionally, your strength of self grows.  Your confidence to live and handle difficult situations increases.

#2 – You have mental space to pursue your dreams

This one is huge.

When your mind is cluttered with searching for the next diet or exercise program, or finding recipes that fit the new fad, or shopping for the latest exercise gear you cannot focus on what really matters most to you in life.

It may even go deeper.  If you are staying focused on analyzing food / exercise to avoid dealing with something else, it is time to move forward. 

If you are hiding your best self behind counting this or that, trying to control every bite or workout, it is time to open the curtain and step out on your stage.

#3 – You have increased physical energy

You sleep well, you wake up with energy, and it stays consistent throughout the day so you can accomplish your goals and still enjoy family and friends at the end of the day.

#4 – Your ability to enforce boundaries, with yourself and others, improves

Food police?  Exercise drill sergeant? No more.  Either from others or yourself.

You confidently handle critics.

You also are able to tell yourself “no” when a choice does not value you.

#5 – You have more fun and are more fun to be around

When your excitement comes from discussing the latest fad exercise or diet, it is a boring life.

However, when you have recent adventures or a book you read or a funny family gathering or ____ to talk about, conversations have life in them.

You meet up with people, confident as you accept yourself and others, with less judgement.

Social situations around food are no longer stressful.

You have the physical fitness to enjoy the adventures you want.

#6 – You feel successful, because you are successful

When you learn what works for your body and your lifestyle, and you have the tools and techniques to stick with it, you reach your goals.

You feel successful along the journey because you are living what you value.

#7 – This is a bonus reason because I just had, an hour ago, a conversation with a client and this reason came up – so I added it: 

You become a leader and influencer for good in those around you.

This client was waiting on the inspiration to make changes to come from his circle of family and friends.  I challenged him “Think about who you want to be.  Do you want to be the person who waits to be led or do you want to lead?  Do you want to be influenced or do you want to influence?”  I challenge you, too.  When you find your path to Thrive, you will inspire others to do the same.

This is what finding your path to THRIVE brings you.  It is one of the most amazing adventures you’ll ever go on.

Go here to check out my newest course, so you can THRIVE in your LIFE.  (We start in a few days.)

5 Tips (and Products) to Create Your Spa Weekend

You feel like you need to get away from it all.  You want to spend a week at a spa, refreshing your body and mind.  But arranging life to do that?  Maybe later, you say. 

Don't wait until life hands you a week to take care of yourself.  Create a weekend - or at least a day - for an in-town spa retreat.

1.  ENVIRONMENT

A spa setting is typically clean and quiet, with a lot of nature.  So plan to get the house clean before the weekend, perhaps even hiring a residential cleaning company (or your teenagers, if they have a clean-streak).  This is a great time to purchase new bath towels, if needed.  Or break out the plush bath towels you saved for guests.

Quiet?  What a great excuse to have the younger kids visit the grandparents overnight.  The teens may stay with friends, or perhaps they want to join you in a spa-weekend.

Nature? Inside the house, add fresh flower arrangements in each room.  Outside the house, enjoy a nearby park for journaling or walking.  Another way to add nature is candles, especially beeswax candles.  The purest I have found is www.nashvillewaxco.com.  The way the wax is processed makes a difference in what you breathe.

If these ideas don't work...there's always a nice hotel or bed-and-breakfast option.

2.  MENTAL SPACE

One of the joys of a spa is letting your mental-to-do list take a break.  That is another reason to have the house cleaned ahead of time.  Plan on Thursday and Friday evenings to have the laundry, grocery shopping, and any other weekend chores already complete.  

If cooking is a relaxing pleasure, you can leave that for your weekend spa.  If cooking is a chore, then arrange catering.  (If you live in the Nashville area, check out Linda's Perfect Platters - she cooks from scratch whatever you'd like.  You can find her company on Facebook.)

Turn on your "out-of-office" messages and leave your calendar behind.  Don't check your social media.  Unplug.  Scary?  Maybe.  But I promise you will be grateful by Sunday night.

3.  PLEASURABLE, HEALTHY FOOD

Speaking of cooking, spa food is delicious and good-for-you.  Focus your menus around fresh vegetables with lean poultry and fish.  Add lots of cucumber-lemon water.  Perhaps visit a farmers market mid-week to pick up your in-season vegetables.  

If you do not want to cook during the weekend, pre-cook your meats and enjoy as leftovers on salads.

4.  LEARN A LITTLE

An occasional class is nice at a spa, so include a video or a book on a self-care topic.  If you are wanting to learn about exercise, read LePersonal Coach by Valerie Orsoni.  If eating and living healthy are your desire, then The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain or any book of the French Women Don't Get Fat series.  (Of course, this would be a great weekend to start Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way.)

Don't forget that your best expert on you is, well, you.  So journal each day; see what insights are revealed.

5.  ACTIVITIES TO BOOK

Here we get to the essence of a spa.  A spa should include novelty and familiarity.  

  • Hike or walk in a new park.  
  • Try a Pilates class at that boutique studio you've wanted to visit.  
  • Take your journal and stretch mat for a few hours at a park.  
  • Of course, a massage from your favorite massage therapist is "practically" mandatory for a spa weekend.

Enjoy next weekend at your personal in-town spa.

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Never too cold to exercise (at least inside)

When it is cold and snowy outside, you may want to hibernate.  But don't!  Get moving inside.

  • Pull out your old step aerobics bench and video from 15 years ago.
  • Straighten your house, making as many trips up and down the stairs as you can.
  • Go walk the mall.  Without stopping to shop.
  • Turn on your favorite dance tunes, close the blinds, and pretend you are on Dancing with the Stars.
  • Turn on your kids' favorite dance tunes and have a dance-off.
  • Those podcasts you've been meaning to listen to?  Turn one on and alternate push-ups, crunches, planks, and other strengthening exercises.
  • What do you do to keep moving when it is cold outside?
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