The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Today it is all about the heart.

Beating Heart
(The producer of this video disabled embedding, so you have to go to the link, but it shows how to make an origami beating heart. 3 minutes)

It is, after all Valentine's Day. And whether you are single and loving it, or single and looking, or partnered or married or whatever'd, take care of your heart and the heart(s) of those you love.

But it all comes down to this. You have to take care of your own heart. Often that means losing weight. And like the mayor of Oklahoma City believes and Kathleen Parker writes, "real, sustained weight loss takes patience, discipline and commitment, not a calculator."

We can justify anything we want today, like dark chocolate containing anti-oxidants or red wine being good for you. So go out and eat a nice, satisfying Valentine's Day dinner. Enjoy the box of chocolates. But today is just one day of the year, and your heart needs to pump 366 days (it is leap year, after all).

This video is a real beating don't watch if you don't like that kind of stuff.

According to CDC data heart disease is still the number one killer in America. And everyone of us...everyone...can do something to reduce our risk of heart disease. This is from the final data for 2004.

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
Heart disease: 652,486
Cancer: 553,888
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,074
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 121,987
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 112,012
Diabetes: 73,138
Alzheimer's disease: 65,965
Influenza/Pneumonia: 59,664
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 42,480
Septicemia: 33,373

U. S. News and World Report had a section on heart disease and cholesterol and statins this week, and I am borrowing this information from an ad (Quaker Oats) in that section.

Be Heart Smart

This simple checklist shows you what you can do today to prevent heart disease.

  • Be Pressured Know your blood pressure - high pressure will age your arteries. Keeping it around 115/76 can make your body up to 10 years younger.
  • Floss & Brush Periodontal disease, such as gingivits, affects more than the gums. Chronic infections require the body to defend itself and inclrease clotting to protect against bleeding - a recipe for heart attack.
  • Move it Walking 30 minutes each day can add years to your life - regular movement is a powerful anti-aging treatment.
  • Easy takes it An aspirin each day greatly reduces your risk of a stroke.
  • Get some shut eye Try for seven hours of zzz's each night.
  • Dish up fish Three times a week, dine on omego-3s to help your heart and arteries function, plus fish protein that packs an additional cardiovacular boost. Not nuts about seafood? Walnuts shell out a good dose of omega-3s.
  • Skip the smoking section An hour of second hand smoke can cause the same body aging as smoking up to four cigarettes.
  • Turn off the TV When you pay attention to what you eat, you enjoy it more and you're likely to sense when you're full - before you've eaten too much.

I come from a family with a history of heart disease and my father had three heart attacks (and just kept on smoking) before finally dying of respiratory disease (caused of course by that smoking). That puts me at some degree of risk.

When I was younger I ran. And ran and ran. Not Forrest Gump type of running, but 6 or 7 miles a day several days a week. I had a running hero, Dr. Jim Fixx, author of The Complete Book of Running. When I graduated from college (the second time ) in 1981, and got a job, my running was reduced by a good bit, but I didn't quit altogether. But imagine my shock when my running hero collapsed and fell dead of a heart attack at age 52 after a run.

Fast forward 25 years and here I am. I've made it past Jim Fixx's age of death and feel pretty good about my heart. I am like the OK City mayor though, and have just a few more pounds to lose...the hardest ones.

I will tell you a couple of things I do. I park in a parking garage, usually on level 4 (not by choice) and take the stairs down and when I return, I take the stairs up. The walk to class is up a hill and down a hill, 2 blocks. Once in the building, my classes are on the 4th floor. I take the stairs.

I have cut down on sugared drinks. Not completely, but cut back to less than half of what I used to drink. I eat a hand full of nuts every day. I'm working on adding more fruits and vegetables. My blood pressure is great. My cholesterol is borderline, and by George I am going to get it within desired range by exercise and diet (I have been on Crestor and don't like it).

I enjoy good food, though, and I don't deny myself, but I now cook a little more healthy than I did 10 years ago.

So, there are things everyone can do. Walking is a good start. One flight of stairs at work is a good start (take the rest by elevator). Then in 2 weeks, take 2 flights of stairs. Whatever you do, start out easy and work your way up. You will feel better, and you will live better.


Anonymous said...

Excellent video, Joe! It's even better in person (dodging bits of the sawed sternum as they fly by you is the best!) The first time I saw a beating heart in real life, I was amazed (maybe disturbed) at how much it looks like an uncooked chicken breast.

Really though, good reminders about heart health!

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