Friday, February 17, 2012

Baby Steps Toward a Healthy Heart ...

February is Heart Month and as a former coronary care nurse, a former cardiac spouse, and a woman-of-a-certain-age, I take a particular interest in heart health.

I've always rather prided myself on not having any of the risk factors for heart disease but over the past few years, since stopping running and power-walking due to running injuries in both feet, I've noticed my weight beginning to creep up and my waist circumference increasing. This week, while doing the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation Risk Assessment, I had quite a rude awakening - one that has motivated me to clean up my dietary habits and to find an alternate way of getting The Montreal Heart Institute's recommended minimum of 30 minutes  exercise a day.

I have decided to reduce my sugar intake (my Achilles heel - I'm the original cookie monster!) and to ride my stationary bike at intervals throughout the day when its too cold and wet to want to take my usual walk around the lake. These two changes seem small enough to be manageable, (we so often sabotage ourselves by taking on too much at once), and yet large enough to make a difference. I will report back to you on my progress in making these changes over the next month. (And, if anyone wants to join me in making some "babystep changes" toward a healthier heart, you're more than welcome to post your intention here.)

While perusing the Heart & Stroke Foundation website, I found a number of great resources including 10 healthy eating guidelines and some delicious heart-healthy recipes. On their February calendar there are different dinner recipes for each day of the the month, including a particularly good one for Hearty Tuscan Soup.

There are also many fantastic, flavourful recipes in two of my favourite heart-healthy cookbooks  -
1.  Lighthearted at Home: The Very Best of Anne Lindsay by Anne Lindsay
2.  The Best of HeartSmart Cooking by Bonnie Stern.

Whatever your current state of heart health, I hope you will join me in taking the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Risk Assessment and then in deciding, with your own health professional, how you want to optimize your cardiac health. (Another gentle reminder that those of us who care for others do better when we care for ourselves first!)

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