HAPPY FEBRUARY 1st!!!
February is my second-favorite month of the year (October is my favorite). One great thing about February is that it’s Go Red for Women month!
Go Red for Women is a movement that celebrates the “energy, passion, and power we have as women to band together to wipe out heart disease and end stroke.” Heart disease is often seen as a male disease but it’s so not; it’s the number one killer of women. In fact, American women are four to six times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer. And it doesn’t just affect old women, so stop thinking you don’t need to worry about it now, little undergrads! The thing is, so many cases of heart disease are preventable, so no matter your age, you need to commit to habits that will protect your heart.
Some obvious but necessary prevention tips:
Know your blood pressure! Years of high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, so get your blood pressure checked yearly — and ask the doctor what that number means! If it’s high or borderline-high, make reducing it a priority.
Don’t smoke. And if you’re on the pill, SERIOUSLY, don’t smoke.
Get your cholesterol tested and know those numbers too! Years of high cholesterol — or low “good cholesterol” — clogs up your beautiful arteries.
SLEEP!!!! Regularly not getting enough sleep is a maj contributor to heart disease — like, five hours of sleep doubles your risk of dying. That’s just obscene. Plus, when you’re a sleepyhead, you look and feel like crap. Sleep is not a luxury and if you still aren’t getting it, check out my tips on how to get more/better sleep.
Manage your stress. I know it’s hard to think about getting the perfect job, say no, balance your checkbook, and not worry about your loved ones, but chronic stress is a big factor in heart disease. We all blow of stress differently, so whether you need to write in your journal, vent to a friend, or take a yoga class, DO IT!
Eat healthy foods. Whether you are thin or thick, a poor diet is a big contributor to heart disease! Filling up on the good stuff — especially fiber and whole grains — will lower your risk in a big way.
Move your ass. Your heart hearts cardio — and regular exercise will help with all the other prevention tips by keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol in check and helping you sleep and manage stress.
And again, these rules apply whether you are thick or thin. I hate when women don’t work out and eat straight-up crap because they “don’t need to worry about it.” No. We all need to worry about it.
So it’s not like you don’t know this stuff — but sometimes you need to remember to actually do these things. Set a few heart-related goals for February and then actually do them! Here are some ideas:
If you can’t state your cholesterol as quickly as you can your phone number, call your doctor right now and schedule some lab tests. (I am!)
If you have a stack of clean workout gear because you haven’t had any need for it lately…hmmm…aim for three days of heart-pumping cardio, three days a week. If you’re already a cardio queen, mix it up with speedy intervals.
Buy earplugs and commit to eight hours a night of sleep.
Stock your fridge (or freezer!) with veggies and make a deal with yourself that you’ll eat them first.
It takes 21 days to make a new habit and we’ve got 28 this month. Starting a heart-healthy habit now will mean you’ll probably stick with it this year. And let the color red be your reminder. You can download red backgrounds for your cell from the Go Red site, or hey, just get a red pedicure. Every time you see that Chick-Flick Cherry you’ll think, Hmmm….have I moved my ass today? Am I so stressed I want to choke somebody?
And don’t forget that Friday is National Wear Red Day! Besides the fact it’s a gorgeous color that makes women look (and feel) fierce, wearing red will help spread the word. Now that you know this stuff, it’s important that you share it. Because really…we’re talking about your mom and your coworker and your little sister and your favorite teacher here. And when someone says, “Why are you wearing red?” you can give her a lecture on big scary heart disease and then, oh, hey, maybe save her life!