It’s time to take care of your heart

Start February off right with these five steps to better heart health.

Bonninstudio | Stocksy United

Each February, the world takes time to recognize and bring awareness to heart health. There are fundraising events to provide money for research, people “go red for women,” and discuss ways to prevent heart disease. Personally, I too use February as a time to re-focus on heart health, and this year my team and I are kicking off our first group health challenge, called ‘Fresh Start Healthy Heart.’

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Even though I have never had heart issues and it doesn’t run in my family, I’ve always held the motto of: “do it for your heart” close to, well, my heart. When I was a personal trainer I could always talk myself or my clients into going the extra mile or taking those extra steps by cheering and saying, “do it for your heart.” Because your heart really does need you to be strong, and watch out for it.

Heart disease is still the number one killer for both men and women today. Year after year, millions of people suffer from heart disease, and many heart conditions even go undetected. Heart disease can be hereditary, but that doesn’t make it impossible to avoid. In fact there are many ways that we can lead healthy lives with hereditary disease in our families. The truth is, it doesn’t need to affect you one single bit if you live properly and take care of business.

These suggestions may seem obvious, but by following these five steps—just five!—to a better, stronger heart, you will reduce your chances of getting heart disease drastically.

Step One:

Get moving! I will never understand excuses for this one. It’s as easy as standing up from your chair: You can and should move a little every day–period. Start with five minutes of walking a day, then upgrade to ten minutes. Eventually, add in stairs or a bike. Your ultimate goal should be at least three days a week for 30 minutes of movement. The more the better! But take baby steps. Consider wearing a heart rate monitor or a fit bit to keep you informed and motivated. If you do better with a professional for extra guidance, find one to help you (and, yes, they’re easy to find). Here’s the bottom line: move and get your heart rate up and down and back up again. That’s all there is to it.

Step Two:

Eat a whole foods “diet.” I put the word diet in quotes because I’m not talking about a traditional diet where you just cut out a ton of calories for a few days or weeks. This is a small but important life change that should last. Most of us aren’t just eating too much food every day, we’re eating too much junk! Make a habit of eating fruits and veggies with each meal and as snacks. Eat plenty of lean protein and enjoy your healthy fats, like avocado, nuts and oils. Finding healthy whole foods meal plans are so easy these days with Pinterest and other social media outlets that it’s easier than ever to eat whole and healthy foods.

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Step Three:

Drink water. Lots of water! Allow your body at least 64 oz of water a day. We make it 80 oz minimum for our clients. This helps reduce all diseases by flushing out toxins, keeping cells healthy and your bowel movements regular. Eliminate soda or any other sugar laden or artificial sugar drinks. Keep your caffeine minimized to under 180 mg a day.

Step Four:

Reduce alcohol and eliminate tobacco. Be safe with alcohol and avoid having more than one drink a day and choose your drinks wisely. For instance certain tequila and wine can add some value to your health, while others (especially high in sugar) can only hurt your health. Smoking is the number One cause of preventable disease and death … think about that one. Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis; the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries. Don’t let this be the reason for your heart problems—it isn’t worth it.

Step Five:

Tap into your spiritual life. Find a church, create a prayer life, engage with the Lord. Living for something other than ourselves is stress relieving. Stress is a large contributor to all disease, including heart disease.

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While all these things will also improve our heart heath, they will also improve our figure, our lives, our looks, it’s still much more important to do it for our heart. But really, this is a win win!

Cara Busson-Clark
Cara Busson-Clark
Cara Busson-Clark is a Certified Sports and Clinical Nutritionist and runs Cara Clark Nutrition. Her "non-dieting" approach to health and wellness, attracts a wide range of clients, including Hollywood celebrities. In addition to her passion for helping others live their best lives, her world revolves around her faith and family. She is mother to four daughters, ages one to six and lives in southern California.

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