Latest posts by Makeba Giles (see all)
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Heart Truth®. All opinions are 100% mine.
There was a time when I didn’t give a second thought to my heart health. I was young, always held jobs that kept me fairly active (paper routes, working in large corporate buildings that required lots of walking, to get from my cubicle to the restroom, cafeteria, main entrance, etc.). Since the majority of the (little) money that I made went to paying bills, daycare expenses, and gas for my car, I ate canned vegetables and fruit cups for lunch while at work to save money. While my jobs were stressful, I always made time after work to relax, and I consistently got 7-8 hours of sleep each night. At the time, I had no idea that these activities that were second nature to me were helping to keep my heart healthy.
Fast-forward eight years, and my ‘routine’ has drastically changed. In fact, so much so that it is pretty much non-existent. Working from home means I only have to walk a few paces to get to my work desk each day, and I don’t have a timesheet to force me to take scheduled work breaks or lunches. I oftentimes find myself sitting at the computer for several hours at a time – sometimes most of the day. The only ‘real’ walking I do is from my door to the car to drive my kids to and from school – and since their schools are all on the other side of town, that’s even more sitting for long periods of time.
Since the fridge and food pantry are both easily accessible, I eat what I want – as much as I want – throughout the day. I usually pick processed foods because they’re faster than trying to cook up some vegetables or slice up some fruit. As a result, I’ve seen the weight pile on, having to buy new clothes in larger sizes. My sleep schedule has changed, too: If I get 3-4 hours of sleep in any given night, it’s a miracle.
Balancing work and home while at home is super stressful as well. With so much to do in a day, downtime is a rarity for me, and there are very few moments when I feel completely at ease – there’s always something that’s worrying my mind.
All of the factors above – lack of physical activity, proper diet, and sleep, being overweight and high levels of stress – are dangerously affecting my heart health. The truth is, I know it. I know it all too well. And I also know that because of the history of heart conditions in my family and the risk factors for heart disease in women, I need to stop bad habits now and make changes in order to safeguard my heart health before it’s too late.
Truth About Heart Health
- Heart disease is the #1 killer of women.
- Of the women who died in 2013 (the latest data available), one in four women in the United States died of heart disease.
- Eighty percent of women ages 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors for heart disease.
- Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. The risk factors for heart disease are:
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Diabetes and prediabetes
Being overweight or obese (BMI of 25 or greater)
Being physically inactive (less than 2.5 hours of physical activity per week)
Having a family history of early heart disease
Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
Age (55 or older for women)
Truth About Heart Health
Now that I’m in my 40’s I need to stop the act of simply talking about heart health and really *be* about heart health. I need to make a routine for adequate amounts of sleep and exercise. I need to schedule moments in my day, week, and month for real downtime. I need to do things daily to help minimize my stress levels (in other words: I’m not superwoman and I can’t do it all: I need to delegate and ask for help when I need it). I need to make better, healthier choices for meals *and* snacks while at the grocery store. Most importantly, I need to get myself back to a healthy weight.
All of this is much more than the advice #FromTheHeart that I give to myself during this Heart Health Month – it is advice that I give to all of the women in my life that I love. My sister, my friends and family. As women, it is important that we *do* the things that we know we should do to protect ourselves from developing heart conditions now and in the future.
Not only am I putting my own advice #FromTheHeart into action in my own life, I’m also committed to helping my family and friends with their heart health as well. I’ve decided to give gifts #FromTheHeart this year such as planning get-togethers at my home for a healthy dinner, or even meeting up at a restaurant that offers heart-healthy dining options. For those who live far away, I’ll pass along any heart-healthy recipes or exercise tips that I find across the web.
When it gets right down to it, the truth is that there is no reason for me to not be doing that things I should do to live a healthier lifestyle in order to control my own personal risk for heart disease and other heart conditions. From this point forward, I pledge to live a life based on my heart truth. I also pledge to encourage other women to do the same and get the truth about heart health.
Truth About Heart Health