Last week, a lifelong friend of mine had a heart attack at 56 years old. He went to the doctor for a stress test of his heart and did not pass. He had a heart attack while on the treadmill and was wheeled straight into emergency surgery where it was discovered he had a 99.9 percent blockage. Thankfully he was in a hospital already and the doctors were able to put in a place a stent to save his life. If he had been home or on the job, this could very well have been the sad end to a good man and a great tragedy to his family and friends who all love him dearly.
Take action now!
This concept is not rocket science; no matter what you might think, a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. This concept is nowhere near as hard as you may believe it to be! You do not have to die young and cause pain and anguish to your family and friends, you can make smart choices to change the overall pattern of your choices that will make improve your heart health. Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart:
Quit consuming excess, empty calories and lose some weight!
- Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Nutrition and calorie information on food labels is typically based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. You can learn your daily caloric needs simply by going to our Calorie Counter Pro menu where you simply enter your age, gender, weight, and activity level to see how many calories per day you need for your goals whether they are weight loss, gain, or maintenance.
- If you are trying not to gain weight, don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day. This is a simple concept, eat more than you burn, and you gain weight. This is true for everyone. By eating only 500 calories per day in excess of your caloric needs, you will gain one pound of fat per week. Conversely, if you eat 500 calories less than you need, you will lose that one pound of fat.
- Increase the amount and intensity of your doctor approved physical activity to burn more calories.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or an equal combination of both) each week. What ever you do, do not over rate the intensity of your exercise in order to be able to eat more. We have seen it time and again where people will rate their physical activity as intense when it was moderate at best. To rate your intensity remember this:
- Intense exercise will have our heart pounding hard and you will not be able to breath or speak. The odds of you doing this for more than a minute or two if you are not a trained athlete are very slim.
- Moderate intensity is where your heart rate is elevated and your breathing is deep and hard, but you can still carry on a labored conversation. This is a great zone to be in as this where fat burning takes place. It takes the average person twenty minutes to burn through their glycogen stores before burning fat, so try to go at it for at least 30 minutes at a time.
- Low intensity means your heart rate is not elevated and you can breath and speak easy. While this is better than sitting on the couch, you should work yourself up to where you can enter the moderate intensity zone.
Make everything you eat count towards good health!
You may be eating plenty of food to satisfy your immediate hunger, but that is not enough. Being full does not equate your body getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. They help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Quit eating calorie dense, low nutrition foods!
The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you’re trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you are not likely to get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Do not waste your calories on sugar filled junk foods that will only serve to drive you crazy with cravings for more later in the day. Eliminate, or greatly reduce foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients in your diet. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium you eat. Read nutrition labels on your food choices very carefully – the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients are in a food or beverage.
- Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.
- Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.
- Choose poultry and fish without skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans fat. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy and delicious ways.
- Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring).
- Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
- Avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. If you need to lower your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes. (1)
Do yourself and your family a favor and get your health together today. Follow us here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness, we freely provide all the information you need to live a healthy life. Subscription is free and easy, join us today and get each of our new articles straight to your email inbox. Please feel free to comment or ask questions in either our comments section or privately through our contact menu. We answer everyone and encourage conversation!
(1) American Heart Association