It’s February and I’m going to take a break from my usual posts for a public service announcement. If there’s any illness I truly fear, it’s having a stroke at a young age or even in my old age. While I haven’t lost any sleep over it, statistically and genetically speaking, it’s the most likely health concern to happen to me. If you’re a woman, it’s true for you as well. More women die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. (Go Red for Women) But if you’re a male the numbers are similar. According to the CDC, in 2013 the leading cause of death (male and female) was heart disease (596.6K) with cancer coming in second with nearly as many deaths (576.7K) but what also needs to be counted is the other 128.9K deaths from strokes.
Friday, February 6, is Wear Red Day. But it’s not just about wearing a red dress any more than wearing a pink or teal or any other colored ribbon will eliminate cancer. For heart disease, it’s a lot about awareness and making lifestyle changes. Eat right, exercise, and manage stress.
When you see pictures of me running a half marathon or writing about running and exercise realize that I’m not doing this to rock a bikini in July. For one, there’s a muffin top sitting on my six-pack (not to mention stretch marks). But the second reason is that I know what genetics tell me. I’m going to die from a heart attack or stroke. Fortunately, longevity is in my genes but that’s not the only factor. It’s been proven that a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. That is why I eat well (even if I’m splurging on pizza and jalapeno poppers as I write this and kind of watch the Super Bowl), exercise, and manage my stress.
I make a concerted effort to enjoy family time, read a lot, run, write. These things are all fun and relaxing. I don’t let myself overcommit (most of the time). I don’t hold grudges. I avoid drama. Even if I’m like my grandmother and live to be one hundred, life is too short to be stressed out.
You don’t like healthful foods? I bet you do. Find what you like. Try something you used to hate. Fix it in a different but healthful way. It’s amazing what a few herbs can do to vegetable. Oven roasting or grilling caramelize the natural sugars in vegetables. Steamed ones are crisp and bright. Most veggies can be eaten raw.
You don’t like to exercise? I be there’s something you like. And everything is more fun with a friend. Rather than coffee or lunch meet to walk, bike, bowl, or take an exercise class. Start slow and build up your endurance. Do you have little ones? Exercise with them. They need 60 minutes of activity each day. Why not join them?
We’re a month into the new year. Did you make a resolution? This is me cheerleading. “Keep going! You can do it!” Did you fall off the wagon? Guess what? You can start over. Confession time. Mid-January I got the flu and haven’t exercised since. But I’ll be back out there doing situps, pushups, and running.