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Wellness Wednesday: It’s Never Too Late: Tips to Reverse Your Risk for Heart Failure

Haven’t always treated your body like a temple? Don’t fear: it’s never too late to shed those bad habits and reverse your risk for health problems in your later years. 

As we age it becomes harder to make changes. Many people believe that it’s too late to change and that the damage done cannot be reversed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of age, people who make lifestyle changes with diet, exercise and stress management tend see positive changes in their blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and weight. They feel better and have increased energy.



Here are some tips on getting started:

Don’t Make Resolutions – Set Goals



Are those New Year’s resolutions already history? You’re not alone: studies show that more than 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month. Most people who set resolutions don’t develop any strategies for how to actually achieve them. The better approach is to set goals for the year. Think of the small steps you can take that will get you there and focus on those. Don’t tie your goals to any specific date, and reward yourself when you achieve each small step.

Start Exercising – At Any Age 

Even people who start exercising late in life can reap the benefits. Frequent exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and many other conditions. If you haven’t exercised in a while, first get a check-up from your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start an exercise program. Then, start slowly: take the stairs, walk around the block – try to engage in very mild exercise a few times a day, for a few weeks. 

Quit Smoking

No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting at any age is beneficial to your health. According to the American Cancer Society, even after age 80, people can live healthier if they give up cigarettes. The benefits to quitting are almost immediate:

  • Your breathing will improve and your lungs, heart and circulatory system will begin to function better.
  • Your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or getting cancers decrease.
  • You are likely to add years to your life.
  • You’ll save money!
  • Even if you’re tried a few times before, it’s never too late to try again and quit smoking for good.

    Lose Weight

    Weight loss at any age yields heart benefits and helps you live longer. Those extra pounds put you at increased risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, so no matter your age, shedding that extra weight is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Remember, the most effective weight-loss plans include a combination of exercise and healthy diet.

    Eat Right

    If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high blood pressure, studies show that a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and fish can still lower your risk of dying from a cardiac event.

    Get Your Annual Physical

    An annual physical can catch health problems as they arise. The older you get, the more important these exams become to screen for medical issues, assess risks and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

    The Sooner You Start, the Better

    Irregardless of age, abandoning an unhealthy lifestyle can control, and even reverse, the progression of coronary artery disease. It’s never too late. The sooner you develop healthy habits (and lose the bad ones), the more benefits you’ll reap for your heart and overall health.

    This is a reprint from Carolinas Healthcare System

    Creamy Vegan Baked Pesto Pasta

    Originally posted on :

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    I have been on a vegan kick lately! I don’t practice a vegan lifestyle, however I find vegan recipes to be so creative, healthy and of course- delicious! I love love love Oh She Glows, a healthy food blog where I fell in love with vegan cooking! Her cookbook book is full of healthy and delicious recipes.

    In this delicious baked vegan pasta recipe the creaminess comes from pureed beans rather than gobs of cheese, oil or fat.  The casserole turned out beautifully and tasted extremely delicious! This is heart healthy, full of fiber and low in calories.

    For those of you who aren’t vegan, you can add cooked chicken or ham to the casserole before baking and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

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    Vegan Creamy Pesto Pasta


    Yields 8 servings // Prep time 40 min // Cook time 50 -60 min

    Pesto Ingredients: (You can also use store-bought pesto)

    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
    • 3…

    View original 284 more words

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    Wellness Wednesday: Finding Time for Heart Health

    IMG_5311 February is National Heart Health Month-a great time to make sure your ticker is ticking properly. Use this month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community.

    Making time for a heart-healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. But the good news is that making a few small simple lifestyle changes can lead to heart-healthy habits that require little thought or effort.

    You know your family better than anyone, so use that knowledge and get creative in how you can work heart-healthy habits into your family’s life and daily schedule.

    Whether you’re a single parent or married, a stay-at-home parent or working, here are ways to make more time for the whole family to be more heart healthy:

    1. Identify free times for activity. Keep track of each family member’s daily activities for one week. You’ll get a snapshot of where you might be able to get the family together for some physical activity. It can also help you see which activities you can cut back on.

    IMG_5323 Pick two 30-minute and two 60-minute time slots for family activity time. Weekdays are usually better for 30-minute activities and weekends are better for 60-minute activities. Try to spread out the time slots. Here are some ideas to get your kids moving that parents can join in.

    2. Make time to plan a weekly menu, go shopping and prep your meals. Keep track of how many times you grab food on the go for one week. Once you find blocks of time when you can do a little planning, it’ll be easy to learn healthy preparation methods, fix healthy snacks and eat fewer fast and processed foods.

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    3. Simplify your family’s schedule. In today’s society we’re expected to do it all. But this type of non-stop lifestyle isn’t sustainable or healthy. Try prioritizing your activities and see what you can do without so you’ll have more time for the things that matter. You can also work on stress management methods.

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    4. Take baby steps, not giant leaps. If you’re the head of your household, making sure that all the heads and hearts in your home are healthy is a lot to handle. The key is to take baby steps. Getting heart-healthy is a journey; you don’t have to do everything at once. Learn how to get heart-healthy one simple step at a time.

    5. Ask everyone in the family to do their part. Depending on their ages, kids can help prepare healthy meals and help around the house. Treat your family like a team and encourage everyone to work together.

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    6. Live by example. We all need to do our best to walk the walk. If we want our kids to eat healthy and exercise, we’ve got to model that behavior. You’re not perfect, but if you’re determined and persistent, there’s not much that can stop you.

    IMG_5331 Make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives.

    This article is a reprint from: American Heart Association

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    Meatless Monday: Spicy (Vegan) Jambalaya

    Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival—whatever you want to call it, February 17th is a day dedicated to living it up! While traditionally Mardi Gras was celebrated as a way to satisfy indulgences prior to Lent, it has evolved in America as a day to wash down Cajun and Creole cooking with a healthy pint of beer. Whether taking to the street for festivities and parades in New Orleans or planning a Mardi Gras party all your own, this meatless recipe is sure to satisfy your taste buds!

    Spicy (Vegan) Jambalaya
    Servings: 3-4

    Ingredients

    3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    1 large yellow onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    4 large stalks celery, diced
    1 heaping Tbsp. diced jalapeño (use more or less depending on how spicy you like things – 1 Tbsp. gives it a nice kick)
    4 cups diced fresh tomatoes
    2 cups uncooked brown rice
    4.5 cups vegetable stock
    2 teaspoons vegan worcestershire sauce (you can find some good vegan varieties at your local Whole Foods Marketplace)
    3 bay leaves
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    2 teaspoons hot sauce (I use Sriracha)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1.5 cups chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

    Instructions
    1. Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan (use one that has a tight-fitting lid).

    2. Add onion, garlic, celery, and jalapeño to the oil and sauté until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.

    3. Add tomatoes and cook an additional minute or two to soften them up.

    4. Add rice, vegetable stock, worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, paprika, hot sauce, salt, and pepper to pan and stir to combine. Cover and bring mixture to a simmer. Let it cook for 20-40 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and cooked through.

    IMG_52505. Stir in fresh cilantro and serve immediately. Garnish with extra cilantro and enjoy!

    IMG_5252-0 Recipe adapted from lifeasastrawberry.com

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    10 Vegan Valentine’s Day Candies

    Originally posted on The Friendly Fig:

    Valentine’s Day is coming quick – have you gotten your special someone a little something? Candy may be cliché, but come on… everyone loves candy. Add a homemade card, and you have yourself a wonderful, inexpensive, and thoughtful gift! If your celebrating a vegan Valentine’s Day, don’t think that all hope is lost. There are plenty of vegan candy options, and we have 10 right here [plus some cheesy-ass notes as an added bonus].

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    Protein on a Vegan Diet

    Originally posted on Fight To Be Fit!:

    The amount of protein you need in your diet depends a lot on your body weight and what activities you do.  More protein is not necessarily better. Americans in general eat far more protein than we need each day.The RDA for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you’d need 51 grams of protein per day (140 pounds = 63.5 kg, and 63.5 X .8 = 50.8).
    This might be higher if you are incorporating a vigorous weightlifting routine into your schedule, but regardless, it is not only possible, but easy to get enough protein on a daily basis while following a vegan (or plant based) diet!

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    Protein is made up of amino acids, often described as its building blocks. We actually have a biological requirement for amino acids, not for protein. Humans cannot make nine of the twenty common amino…

    View original 924 more words

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    Wednesday Wellness: Five Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

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    It’s hard not to be stressed in today’s fast-paced world. But chronic stress can cause people to adopt poor habits like smoking, and eating badly, which in turn can cause high blood pressure and weight gain. All of these factors increase your risk for heart disease and further increase your stress.

    Here are five easy steps that can help you break this vicious cycle.

    1. Get Your ZZZs

    IMG_5147 Getting a good night’s sleep sets you up for a low-stress day. Most people need between seven and eight hours of rest every night to feel refreshed, but some people need up to nine. If you have trouble falling asleep, try setting up a routine to follow every night. Try a series of stretches before bed, simple breathing exercises or a hot shower. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to ease into sleep.

    2. Eat Up

    IMG_5148 Low blood sugar makes you tired and grumpy, which makes you less likely to work out and can lead to poor food choices later in the day. Eat well-balanced meals with healthy snacks (like nuts and fresh fruit) at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar, and your mood, even!

    3. Turn off the Tube

    IMG_5149 Lots of people use television as a way to unwind and escape from the worries of the day. But too much screen time can lead to behaviors that actually increase stress. People who eat in front of the television tend to consume more calories and make less healthy food choices than those who eat at a table. And any time spent watching TV on your couch is time you aren’t spending de-stressing in a more effective way.

    4. Sweat it Out

    IMG_5150 Exercise is a proven stress reliever. Cardio releases endorphins into the blood stream that help regulate your mood and stress levels. Exercise also helps limit the amount of cortisol, a hormone caused by stress, your body produces. Get the good stuff pumping through your veins by getting moving at least 30 minutes a day.

    5. Be a Social Butterfly

    IMG_5151 When things pile up, it can seem like you don’t have time for fun. But don’t let a stressful situation cut you off from friends. Having someone to confide in can be a huge help, and friends and family often offer the best advice. Just make sure you don’t dwell on the bad stuff. Talk it through and move on to something positive, like enjoying your friend’s company!