Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FREE Ways to Be Heart Healthy (And Why It's So Important to Me)

My dad as a teen - a handsome devil, eh?

I grew up the oldest child in a family of 6 - my mother was a housewife and my father worked on boats at Blount Marine in Warren, Rhode Island. We were never "living large," but our family's financial stability plummeted after my father, who was the sole breadwinner, suddenly went into cardiac arrest and coded on our living-room floor when I was only 8. Luckily, with the quick response and support from the Warren Volunteer Paramedics, my father survived. He suffered and survived many more heart attacks and a few cardiac episodes but I eventually I stopped counting.

My dad and the three girls (I'm the biggest), before his heart attacks (1991?)

Terms like angioplasty, bypass surgery, angina, and myocardial infarction became part of my day-to-day language. I got a bajillion hours of driving experience while on my driver's permit when I became my dad's personal assistant after his open-heart surgery. His ribs had been cracked, then laced back together so he couldn't move his arms back and forth to drive.

At some point during my mid to late teens, my dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, also known as CHF. The doctor prescribed a few more pretty-colored heart medications to add to the myriad already lining our top-most kitchen cabinets and sent my dad on his way.

My dad a year and a half after his first heart attack,
with my younger siblings (1996?)

As a result of my father's nearly twenty-year ordeal with heart issues, I make a conscious effort to
live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Since February is American Heart Month, here are a bunch of FREE tips to leading a heart-healthy lifestyle!

  • Whenever possible, use stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. I'm claustrophobic, so I'd rather take stairs than an elevator anyway!

  • Do your own yardwork. Yes, a landscaper would be AWESOME, but think of all the cardio involved in hand-mowing your lawn or vigorously raking or hoeing your garden?

  • Consider your daily/weekly chores a time to cram in some physical activity. Use vigor and enthusiasm when scrubbing your tub, sweeping and doing all your other mundane household activities.

  • Park as far away from your destination as possible! Not only will this get you a good walk, but it may also help you avoid those dreaded hit and runs in the Walmart parking lot.

  • Have a bike? Have two legs?  Use 'em! Save some gas and hit the pavement yourself to get from point A to point B.

  • If you drink regularly, or binge drink, cut back! Drinking, especially excessively, can cause a whole host of medical problems including weight gain, high blood pressure and damage to the muscles in your heart.

  • Destress! Listen to some calming music, read a book (that you got for free from the library), meditate, do a yoga video from On Demand... whatever sends you to your zen zone, do it!

  • Limit your salt intake. High salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, which is a huge contributor to heart disease. Think twice about that bag of chips you want to scarf down in one sitting.

  • Read food labels. Avoid foods containing a lot of "trans fats" or "saturated fats." The phrase "partially hydrogenated" should be a red flag for LEAVE IT ALONE!

My dad recently, walking me down the aisle (2011)

My mom and dad at my wedding (2011)


Happy Couponing!
-Coupon Mama Massachusetts

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