The Colors of Summer

imageFarmer’s markets around town are the sure, vibrant signs of summer. This photo displays part of my vegetable and fruit haul last weekend. I try to buy veggies and fruits in all colors–the reds, greens, yellows, and whites–in part because they are nutritious and in part because they are pretty. We eat them raw, in stir-fry meals, or roasted. The difficult part, I find, is figuring how best to store fruits and veggies so they do not rot before we eat them.

I learned a very handy trick in the Heart Insight Magazine about fresh herbs. It is possible to freeze them for later! Just cut fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or basil, and put them by teaspoon or tablespoon into ice cube trays. Fill with water and freeze. When you want to use the herb, toss the ice cube into the pot. Wa-lah!

Here’s a handy guide for storing vegetables and fruits so they may last their longest:

VeggiesEnjoy the colors of summer!

 

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Consider Your Heart

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February is American Heart Month and I would do my heart injustice by not writing about it. I try to be careful in how I talk about my heart. Sometimes, in effort to be brief and not get into personal details, I abbreviate my heart story by saying, “I have heart disease,” and leave it at that. Or I say, “I had a heart attack when I was 38 but I’m good now.”

A few months ago, attempting to explain away the reason I take so many medications, I said to a nurse, “Well, I have a bad heart.” As soon as the words left my mouth I paused, said no more, and wanted to yank the words back in. I felt awful. My heart has been through the proverbial ringer, with a heart attack and at least three different dissections/tears over the next couple years. It has been invaded by tubes and dye multiple times as doctors have gone in to look around and add stents. It beats with fantastic regularity. It pumps blood efficiently, and it accommodates the six stents that prop open one of its arteries. It is not a bad heart — not at all. I am incredibly grateful for all the work it does. It hasn’t failed me.

My hope in talking about my heart disease is to influence others to consider their hearts. About 80% of heart disease is preventable with lifestyle choices… the old adage of eating well, exercising, and working to keep stress to a minimum. The other surprising statistic is that more American men and women die from heart disease than anything else, including all cancers combined.

But statistics only share facts; they don’t tell stories. None of us consider ourselves a statistic, so we aren’t going to see ourselves in a fact. Stories are easier to identify with, and this is why I tell my story. Consider your own heart, your own story, within the facts.

As you think about eating and exercising, and about managing stress, consider the work of your heart. Will eating this food strengthen my heart and me, or will it make my heart work harder? Do I really want my heart to beat faster and my blood pressure to go up because of this irritating thing at work? Or is there a better way to deal with the stress than allow it to hurt my body?

You get the idea. As you consider other parts of your body and how you treat them, your face, your hair, your teeth, consider your heart.

My other hope in talking about my heart disease is to encourage people, especially women, to get things checked out if they think something is wrong. Ladies, our symptoms of heart attack include:

  • Extreme or unusual fatigue
  • Chest pressure, not necessarily pain
  • Jaw and/or neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety, irritability
  • Extreme sweating, feeling extremely hot

As you can see, these symptoms could be due to any number of other daily benign things… stress, hormones, sushi for lunch, or a cold. But, being very general here, one of the things I think women avoid most is speaking up for ourselves. If you have some of these symptoms in combination, or if any of them start suddenly and get worse, get yourself checked out. You aren’t overreacting and you aren’t causing a scene or making trouble for others. Please. You know when you know something is wrong.

This Friday, February 6, 2015 is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness, specifically, about women’s heart disease and the fact that heart disease affects more women than men.

Wear red on Friday if you can. Tell others why you are wearing red. And consider your heart.

XOXO

 

 

 

All Heart

imageFebruary is heart health month! This past Saturday, February 1st, was “Go Red Day” at the Mall of America. This annual event kicks off the month and features a fashion show, CPR training, a casting call opportunity for women to tell their personal stories, and more. It was a great day!

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Here’s me volunteering at the American Heart Association table. Much of the heart health promotional material focuses on eating healthy and exercising. We have all heard these messages for years: eat well and exercise to be healthy. These simple messages are still true and they generally prevent about 80% of heart disease (according to AHA).

But heart disease is still the #1 killer of women.

I encourage you this month to think about your heart: the physical and emotional aspects of your heart. Although what we put in our bodies and whether or not we move our bodies are very significant factors in heart health, the other, sometimes overlooked aspect of heart health is our emotional and mental self.

What we think about controls how we feel. Positive thoughts create positive feelings. But negative thoughts and emotions, perseverating on hopelessness or helplessness over the long-term can negatively impact heart health. Chronic stress from negative thoughts and feelings can deplete the body’s ability to make hormones related to happiness. This can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and digestive disorders to name a few.

This Friday is National Wear Red Day. Wear red in honor of your heart or the heart of someone you love!

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