A Healthy Heart Day
Heart disease runs in my family. I have a faulty valve in my heart. My mother is dealing with the consequences of congestive heart failure. Her mother suffered a heart attack at the age of fifty-two and lived until the age of eighty-six by carrying a small brown bottle of nitroglycerin tablets at all times. My great grandfather, her father, died from a massive heart attack while riding a bus in his 55th year of life.
With heart disease being the #1 killer of American women and my family having such a strong history of cardiac disease, I know that I must make life changes if I want to keep on living. My parents, and their parents before them, kept lean and fit by working hard and playing very little. They had chores to do that people of my generation just don’t understand. Clothes were hand washed on a scrub board or washed in a wringer washer that had to be filled with water manually. Lawns were mowed with a manual set of turning blades and hand held scythe. Berries were picked, vegetables were fresh from the garden, and swimming, walking, ball games, and other physical activities were a part of everyday life. Today we have modern appliances and conveniences that don’t give us much cause for exerting our bodies any more than we choose to exert them.
Today I am wearing red to remind people of the heart disease that claims the lives of one out of every four women. I’ve checked my blood pressure today and have already started to keep a journal of the readings I take at least three times a week. I plan to do some additional research on cholesterol and omega 3’s so I can have a better understanding of how my heart works and what signs of heart disease to be aware of as I age.
I have become sedentary in my role as a caretaker but starting today I am making changes, no matter how small, to get myself moving more. I am looking for a good used tread mill, I am cranking up my stereo, and I am going to dance as if my life depends on it because it does. I may not be able to walk for miles enjoying the scenery but I can walk right here in the house and enjoy my music or even watch a video. I can lighten my mood and reduce the size of my thighs by dancing.
I’ve already made a lot of changes in my diet. I eat a lot of white meat these days. I choose salmon over a steak and I can’t tell you when I last had a French fry. My preference is a baked potato loaded with broccoli or stir fried vegetables. I eat more fruit, drink more water, and think about my food choices far more than I did just six months ago. I complete my healthy eating choices by taking a multivitamin every day as well as a calcium supplement.
We all want to live a longer healthier life. I personally hope to see grandchildren born, a novel completed, and changes that improve our environment and our economy before my days are done. The last thing I’ve changed and still intend to improve further is my stress level. Everyone has stress but chronic stress can cause heart attack and stroke. I’m slowly learning to say “No” when someone asks an impossible task of me and I no longer feel guilty about saying it. I’m learning to pace myself and not expect the house to be perfect every minute of every day. I’m also learning deep breathing techniques that allow me to focus and relax.
Today I am wearing red to remind myself that I’m alive and want to stay that way!
© Dianna Doles-Petry