Heart disease runs in my family as fast and as sure as a speeding bullet. With my heart at-risk, there are many lifestyle changes I’ve had to make for a healthier heart. I’m sharing changes you can make for a healthier heart lifestyle- because, at the end of the day, your heart depends on it!  Thank you to Henry Ford Health System for sponsoring this post on a healthier heart.

Heart disease runs in my family faster than a speeding bullet. With my heart at-risk, there are many lifestyle changes I've had to make for a healthier heart. I'm sharing changes you can make for a healthier heart lifestyle- because, at the end of the day, your heart depends on it!

16 Changes You Can Make For A Healthier Heart Lifestyle

As we start off a new year, resolutions and goals of working out, a “new year, new me” are floating around social media, and everyone is looking to make changes. But, by the end of the first quarter (sometimes the end of January), many people have reverted back to their old eating habits, stopped working out, and all signs of “new year, new me” are gone out of the window. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been there and got a t-shirt to prove it.

But, how many times can we keep starting over? I can’t. My heart is depending on me to make permanent lifestyle changes. Let me tell you why.

Heart Issues in African Americans

{My mom, my grandma, and myself and my sisters}

My mom died of a heart attack. Her mom died of a heart attack. Her aunts also had the same heart condition and died from the same cause. They all had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Those same hereditary traits have been passed on to me, my sisters and cousins. I have been fortunate to not have high blood pressure nor high cholesterol (yet). When it comes to suffering from a heart attack in our family, we don’t get a second chance. My mom, her mom, and her aunts all died instantly from a heart attack. It hit home to me when I witnessed my mom having a heart attack and leaving us.

Heart disease in the african american community

This was my wake-up call. Since then, I have made changes to have a better heart-healthy lifestyle, and I am sharing those tips with you.

You are what you eat. This saying is so true. If you are constantly eating a ton of junk and processed food, you are doing your body a disservice. However, going on a diet doesn’t help. You have to make a lifestyle change, for good. Yes, diets can help you lose weight and get your body back in shape, but how many times have you been on and off of diets? I realized this yo-yo effect a few years ago and changed my perception of food and my lifestyle.

  • Cut the salt out. We use minimum salt in our food (when necessary).
  • Cut pork and other fatty meats. Get leaner portions if you need to have meat.
  • Cut the sugar food and highly processed foods.
  • Change how you think about food.

The Best Potato Soup

Eat Power Foods. There are several excellent food choices to eat to have a healthy heart. Here are some of my favorite ones:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Fish {Fresh Salmon}
  • Apples
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Walnuts
  • Brown Rice
  • Blueberries
  • Cabbage

Education and self-awareness. Many people don’t know they have heart issues until they suffer a stroke or heart attack. This is where education and self-awareness come in to play- know your family history. I knew from an early age about the heart issues in our family. And being an African-American woman, my chances of having a heart attack are even higher. According to the CDC, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 289,758 women in 2013—that’s about 1 in every 4 female deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States.” {source}

So that’s about three strikes against me, right? Runs in my family, I’m a woman, and I’m an African-American. Knowing this information is vital to my health. The Henry Ford Health System Women’s Heart Center is a great place to get information pertaining to my heart health, with classes and events open to the community. They also offer a Heart Smart™ screening, which is something no other area hospital provides, including a one-on-one review of your results with a board-certified cardiologist. Think of the lives that could be saved if they only knew they had a heart a condition? Self-awareness and education is the first step.

Part of self-awareness and educating yourself on risk factors is taking the Heart Health Risk Assessment. It’s a super easy quiz (took me less than 5 minutes), asking you questions about your health, exercise, and past heart health issues. If you have any questions about the results, you should talk to your doctor. You can also schedule a $99 Heart Smart™ screening, which will provide essential information about your heart at risk in less than an hour. Playing with your heart is no laughing matter. If you have a history of heart disease, have possible symptoms, or are unsure, scheduling a Heart Smart™ screening will give direction to the next step.

Exercising in Winter

Exercise. This one goes without saying, and it’s my least favorite thing to do. I’m not a big fan of exercising, but I want to be there to see my boys graduate, get married, become a Grandma, and the list goes on and on. Since I’m not a big fan of exercising, here are some things I am doing to make sure I stay active:

  • Park at the end of the parking lot. Those extra steps matter in my overall step count.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Get a dog. We have an active puppy who must be walked on a daily basis. This new addition to our home has helped me become active and exercise without thinking about it. Trust me, if you don’t like to exercise, getting an enthusiastic puppy/dog will do the trick!
  • On your lunch break, take a 20-30 minute walk around your building. If you work from home, take 15 minute breaks a few times per day.
  • Going to the gym is still in style. As much as I don’t like working out, going to the gym not only gets me out of the house and moving, but walking on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes is also a stress reliever (and will help keep my blood pressure regulated).
  • *and be sure you are drinking water to stay hydrated

10 Effective Ways to Get Healthier in 2018

Self-Care. Take care of yourself. Getting massages, spa treatments, and finding time for just you will help your overall health. This also includes getting the right amount of sleep and having healthy relationships with the people around you.

Regular check-ups-finding the right Cardiologist and program. Seeing your doctor regularly is vital to your health. As a world leader and one of the most experienced cardiovascular programs in the nation, The Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute specializes in helping people like me. They have advanced treatments for heart and vascular disease. They offer innovative treatments that are specialized for you; not a one-size-fits-all. The Heart & Vascular Institute is one of the few programs in Michigan offering highly specialized evaluation and treatment all in one program. They have clinics all over the Southeast of Michigan, with dedicated diagnostic testing labs. My Dad and his siblings were born at Henry Ford, and this institute has been a staple in Michigan for more than 100 years.

Breakfast is one of my favorite things to enjoy on the weekends, as well as a good cup of coffee. See how we put a twist on the classic quiche recipe, by pairing our favorite Hispanic coffee with a Hispanic Quiche breakfast idea. Get our Mini Potato + Chorizo + Swiss Chard Quiche recipe on the blog.

Other ways you can help your heart is

  • Red Wine, yes wine can help be healthy for your heart. There are antioxidants in red wine that may help prevent coronary artery disease. {this should be in moderation}
  • Drinking coffee has been linked to lower your risks for heart rhythm issues. (well, pour me another one then!)
  • Having a dog is not only great exercise, but they bring great joy and happiness to your life!
  • Limit your screen time.
  • Snuggling with your significant other can help reduce stress.
  • Laughter is great natural medicine.
  • If you smoke, work on quitting.
  • Taking a daily vitamin (or several supplements) that are good for your heart.
  • Go out with your girlfriends’, have a date night, family game night, and surround yourself with positive people.
  • Utilize available resources- The Henry Ford Health System Women’s Heart Center has numerous resources, including recipes and things you can do to maintain a healthy heart.

Heart Healthy Tips

Travel. Yes, traveling and getting away from your regular day-to-day routines is good for your health. Go to places with beautiful scenic views. I don’t know about you, but something about inhaling the beautiful views of Mother Nature does something to my health and soul. I take solo trips, girlfriend getaways, couple trips, and family trips. Having time away to connect with my husband or by myself reduces my overall stress and anxiety, which in turn helps my heart stay healthy.

52 Ways To Bond With Your Kids

Having a healthy heart is a priority in my lifestyle. With these small changes, you can increase the overall health of your heart. If you do have concerns about your heart health, I encourage you to talk to your doctor. And if you’re in Michigan (or the Midwest), The Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute has the experts, resources, and technology to help you and your heart.

What are things you do to protect your heart and have a healthy lifestyle? Drop me a line below!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Henry Ford Health System, however, thoughts and photos are 100% my own.

Heart disease runs in my family faster than a speeding bullet. With my heart at-risk, there are many lifestyle changes I've had to make for a healthier heart. I'm sharing changes you can make for a healthier heart lifestyle- because, at the end of the day, your heart depends on it! #AD