It’s February which means — American Heart Month! How have you been taking care of your heart and body this past year? There’s been a lot going on and many stressors. Has this encouraged you to think about your daily habits, to create a healthier heart, body, and mind?
Make exercise work for you
Maybe working from home has made it easier for us to kick back on the couch after a long day. We may have become accustomed to doing this or it’s something we’ve always done, but it’s time to break old habits, to get up and move! Being stagnant for too long can cause issues down the road: heart problems, poor circulation, weight gain, fatigue, high stress levels, depression, and anxiety are only a few.
Find activities you like and will keep you motivated enough to stick with. Here are some things to think about if you want to start exercising or even if you have been for a while:
1. What is my end goal?
Knowing where you’re wanting to take your fitness journey is important because it will help you decide upon the tactics you need to take to succeed. This doesn’t need to be the “end” of your fitness journey either. Think about making short-term goals and once you reach the end of one, switch up what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. You’re really wanting to make this become a healthy habit in the end that fits your lifestyle.
2. What is motivating me to take care of my body?
This isn’t just, “because I want to look good” or “because I want to feel good”, these are surface answers. Dig deep…this motivation needs to be something that hits you right in the gut. It’s a type of motivation that will kick you into high gear even on your laziest of days. Do you have children that you want to be around for? Maybe you’re unable to do daily activities with them because of weight gain or an injury and these issues are leading you to have serious health problems which you’d like to get under control. Have you had an injury that has led you to quit activities you love doing and caused you to either gain weight, lose strength, or lose the body you once had? — This motivation must be something that pushes you no matter what kind of day you’re having.
3. What type of exercise would/do I like?
If you don’t like running, don’t make yourself run every day. If you don’t like lifting weights, don’t lift weights every day. There are so many other activities you can do to push yourself and get in shape. Pilates, strength training, high intensity interval training, hiking are only some of the various ways and it’s even great to switch things up once-in-awhile to keep your body guessing. Whatever you do, don’t do something you hate or it’s less likely you’ll stick to it.
4. How much am I willing to push myself?
This is huge and really comes down to your “dig deep” motivation, how much time you give yourself, and what exercise you like. It’s okay to take a little time off and give your mind and body a break, but you shouldn’t make this a regular habit every time you have a bad day especially if you’re working towards a goal. Keep that motivation in mind and stay moving!
No matter if you have always been an avid exerciser or you’re just beginning, there is something for everyone.
Fuel… not the kind for your car
Food is fuel. It’s what keeps our bodies performing the way we need them to. What we take in as fuel every day is just as important internally as it is externally. We always see what we look like on the outside, but do you take the time to think about how the food you eat is making you look on the inside?
Those sugary, high saturated fat foods we eat, especially for the majority of our meals, not only build up dangerous visceral fat around our organs causing issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. They can also cause the wall of our arteries to slowly close with plaque build up creating situations for heart attacks and strokes. When you’re eating greasy, sugary foods all the time:
- You’re not getting in the nutrients you need as fuel
- You’re probably still hungry all the time — See #1 above
- You probably feel fatigued and sluggish — See #1 above
Having treats every so often isn’t bad for you, but be sure to have heart healthy, whole foods the majority of the time. This means shopping around the outside edges of your grocery store more often where there are fresh foods and whole ingredients (meaning 1 ingredient) rather than the center aisles with the manufactured processed boxed and bagged foods with a lot of ingredients that we have a hard time even pronouncing.
In turn, this change in exercise and eating will overall make your heart, body, and mind feel better by helping you lower blood pressure, lowering your blood sugar, and helping with chronic diseases along with much more. So don’t wait another minute. Figure out your plan, make a shopping list, and get going on your healthy lifestyle living.