American Heart Month

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Yesterday was Valentine’s Day where we thought about the emotional heart, the heart of love. Today, I would like to talk about American Heart Month. February is the National Month for heart disease awareness. Heart Disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States!

I’ve heard that statement my entire life, but have let my weight climb higher and higher. Being overweight is terrible, especially if the extra weight comes on by: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and stress. Many of you who have read my blog know that some of this can’t be helped. But, some if it can.

Living with so many chronic diseases and conditions results in me having to take numerous prescription drugs to alleviate or decrease the bad symptoms. The problem with these drugs are the side effects.

Some drugs actually cause weight gain. Most of my drugs cause extra fatigue and that means I can’t make myself get up and push through exercise routines. My inability to stand more than a couple of minutes, because of severe back pain, means that it’s super hard to cook nutritious meals.

For these reasons and more, I just can’t help myself. The best I can do is to buy fish and put it in the oven, while frozen mixed vegetables is cooking on the stovetop. We eat the same type of meal every night, except for the nights that I can’t even cook that. With my sugar addiction, I usually used sugar as my energy solution.

The sugar didn’t last as an energy boost for very long. It didn’t allow me to clean part of the house. And, it certainly didn’t allow me to complete any of an exercise plan. So using sugar for energy or dopamine just doesn’t work. It seems like an impossible situation.

Protect Yo Heart

All I can do is try to change my nutrition and take it one meal at a time. My chance to improve my heart health is possible because I’m still alive and I’m slightly mobile. Here are some of the things I will try this month and hope to make them a part of my lifestyle:

In 3-5 minute segments I hope to fix a salad or vegetable, put a lean meat or fish into the oven to cook itself, and search for sugar-free foods to purchase online. These online searches can help me find foods that I am going to need when cravings hit or between meal snacks.

In 2-5 minute segments I can usually follow through with a Youtube video of Chair Yoga or Yoga for Seniors. These are very easy and are usually safe. It’s important that I not fall, because of my Osteoporosis.

The inability for me to keep the house clean really gets me down. Living in a temporary town-home makes it tough, because there isn’t any room for storage. Many things I need for easy food-prep are hidden in the garage. We have much of our home items still in boxes from our move.

I can only vacuum half a room before I’m worn out. I can try that every day, but the cycle catches up with itself before I’m back to where I started. It helps to remember that even though I’m slow, every little bit helps and over time I’ll be proud of the effect that these short times of cleaning can have.

You and I both know that a flare will put a stop to all of this, and this is why so many of us get down and depressed. You may be sailing along, having success in your new plan, and then a painful and exhausting flare takes over. Now you can get nothing done.

rest

You might as well face it before it happens and expect it to happen. When it does hit you, have a Plan B handy. Plan B for us is usually not healthy: a frozen pizza, hubby cooks eggs, take-out. If you’re lucky enough to feel extra strong one day, you can cook 2 meals and freeze one for these Flare Days. Do the best you can and don’t put yourself down when you can’t eat right.

Every one with a chronic illness is different and has a different set of symptoms and limits. We need to encourage one another and tell each other that we’re ok. Don’t expect everyone to keep up with your schedule. Some people have a awful time being around groups of people, so certain activities will wear them out in a short period of time.

Stress is terrible for your heart, so you must not put yourself under stress. Most of the things we stress about don’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. Back up when you’re stressed. Look at the issue under the microscope of your entire life’s picture. Does it matter?

You can’t fix your own health and you can’t fix or control other people. So try and let the stress go. Look for the good in others and lift them up.

Writing this post has been good therapy for me. Sometimes we need to be reminded of things that are the most beneficial in our lives. I know that I do.

@2023, copyright Lisa Ehrman

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. This post contains my experiences and opinions and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please consult your personal physician.

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