Monday Motivation: Transform your wellness with meal planning

Rise and shine, it’s Monday!  Another week to start new goals, work on current ones and celebrate the week ahead.  Our goal at Home with a Twist is to redefine Monday and make it the best day of the week.  Let’s dive in with some ideas.

Meal Planning:  This “new to me” practice has been very effective in my health and wellness journey.  It is a tool that is discussed a lot in my Noom community (Noom is an online weight-loss app you read about here).  The importance of meal planning is that it allows you to know in advance what you will be eating so that you are more likely to make healthier food choices.  Meal planning also helps you keep food costs down because there is less “hangry” food impulse buying.  Here is a terrific article on meal prep 101 .

One thing to consider is you don’t need to plan elaborate menus for the week.  If you like to cook, and that’s how you want to approach meal planning, then go for it.  Since I work and I am now in graduate school, my free time is not as conducive to cooking every night of the week even though I enjoy it.  Here’s how I approach meal prep:

Sunday — Mr. Bee and I discuss what our schedule looks like for the week and what evenings we have free to sit down together for a meal.  Let’s say this week we’ve got Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings free.  After church we shop at Trader Joe’s and get all our fresh groceries for the week.  Maybe this is another day for you like Saturday.  The point is to pick a day that is your start of the week and stick with it.  The other days of the week we eat leftovers or a sandwich, or we might go out one night a week for dinner.

Dinner — We will go around the store and brainstorm three dinner meals always making sure to include a protein and lots of fruits and vegetables.  It might be their spatchcocked chicken (which is the THE most read of my blog posts.  I get comments on it daily and I wrote that post over two years ago. If you google Trader Joe’s Spatchcocked Chicken my blog is usually the third or fourth on the list.  I know!  Who knew a chicken would make me famous.).  Anyway, back to the current story.  Put the chicken in your cart, throw in a box of brown organic rice, which has enough servings for three meals, and a package of Brussels sprouts from produce.  Boom meal one done.  And you will probably have enough left over for lunch the next day.  Another great resource — the TJs staff.  They love to help.  Ask them for ideas for a quick and healthy dinner.  Maybe it’s ground turkey or chicken and one of their sauces and pasta (or spaghetti squash).  Add a bag of salad and there’s meal two.  We usually make omelets at least one evening of the week.  Toss in lots of veggies, herbs and some low-fat mozzarella cheese.  Add a slice of whole wheat toast and you have a well-rounded meal three.  So, there are three dinner ideas for you this week.

Lunches — I also shop for my lunches for the week like a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, sliced turkey breast and veggies.  They sell the most delicious bag of tiny colorful bell peppers.  Slice those into strips and measure their hummus into a small container and you have a healthy side for your sandwich.  Add an apple for fiber for good measure.  TJs has lots of lovely pre-made salads that are $5-$7 you can stock up on for the week, too.  You can grill a few pieces of chicken on the weekend and have those for lunch during the week with a baked sweet potato.

Breakfasts — Studies have shown that breakfast eaters are all-around healthier, less likely to be obese, more likely to have good blood sugar levels, less likely to be hungry later on in the day, and may have improved cognitive function.  Embracing, and not skipping, breakfast kick starts your metabolism and boosts your energy after a long fast.  I love TJ’s steel-cut oatmeal in the freezer section.  Add in a tablespoon of almond butter for your protein and partner it with a hard-boiled egg and you will have a power breakfast that will keep you full for hours.  Here’s a guide to healthy breakfasts for the week.    Overnight oatmeal is so delish — here’s a recipe I have tried from Kathy Eats Real Food.  Unlike the crock pot oatmeal I made that tasted like barf (if you want that recipe click here and God, bless).

I’ll come back another time for healthy snack ideas to inspire you.  But, for now try these tips to make your Monday matter!

Move to Bloom: Using Noom to Achieve my Wellness Goals and Promo Code

True story: I did not workout one day in 2018.  By the end of the year, my body ached, I wasn’t sleeping well, my clothes didn’t fit, I had no energy and I felt blah.  Plus, if you tuned into my podcast I was also struggling with some painful issues with my feet.  Thankfully, I’ve got myself back in gear with the new year. I joined a brand new gym and took their very first spin class on their grand opening day.   And, I’ve found that the spin class has actually helped with my foot pain, so that’s a bonus!

I also joined Noom — which as been coined as the “Millennial Weight Watchers.”  Noom is a wellness program that is designed to help you live a healthier life by guiding you to create better habits.  Unlike other weight loss programs that focus just on the physical aspect of losing weight, Noom focuses on the mental aspect. For many, struggles with weight loss has a lot to do with personal thoughts, habits, beliefs, triggers and emotions that tend to be barriers.  Noom’s goal is to help you overcome these barriers by helping you become more aware of poor habits and creating better ones.

Here’s how I use it and what I like about it.  You wake up every morning with at least 5-6 “activities” waiting for you in the Noom App from quizzes, simple strategies to try, and quick tips on what to focus on for the day.  This program is very much geared toward helping you figure out why you eat what you eat, identifying your personal triggers for making less than healthy food choices, strategies for overcoming barriers and breaking habits.  A lot of what they teach you is based on scientific studies and everyday it seems to track the exact information I need.

You are assigned a coach that helps you determine your “Ultimate Why” and who also checks in weekly to see how you’re doing and to set a new goal.  You log your meals and snacks everyday and the food is broken down into “green, yellow and red” zones so you can gauge where you did well and what needs improvement.  You are also assigned to an accountability group to share ideas and offer encouragement.  Like to cook, but you’re not sure what fits in the program?  Noom has an extensive collection of healthy recipes.   Meal planning is a big idea in this program because by planning your meals ahead of time — including breakfast and lunch – you are more likely to eat healthier.  This has helped me significantly and I’ve spent less money by not going out to eat.

While exercising is important and you’ll see better results if you combine moving and better eating, Noom doesn’t push you with any specific workouts, that’s up to you.  But, you do earn credits toward your calorie budget on the days you exercise and it connects with your fitness device like a Fitbit to track your movement.  Noom offers two programs, one for weight management and the other for diabetes management which focuses more on carbohydrate intake.

Everything is done directly through the app you upload on your phone once you sign up.  Membership costs vary based on current promotions, but it is a 16 week program for about $32 dollars a month.  This is a helpful article to answer all your questions.   And you can also visit Noom to take a free 30-second evaluation.

Here’s the best part — Just for my followers I have a 20% off promo code you can use toward your membership!

Use this link https://friends.noom.com/YVJNSThEMlNCOmNm when you sign up and you get 14 days for free + 20% off your membership!

I can’t wait to share more with you in the future on my #movetobloom goal for 2019!

The FriYay Fit — Aaptiv Fitness App

Despite the fact that working out makes you feel amazing after you’ve finished, it’s a mind game getting motivated to keep that appointment with yourself at the gym.  I get bored easily with the same-ol-workout, so when I found the app, Aaptiv, it’s been a game changer!  And I’m sharing a free guest pass at the end of this post.

“In 2015, Ethan Agarwal was trying to stay fit during his business travels. It wasn’t easy—he found it difficult to stay motivated during runs. He wanted an audio-based guide that would be with him every step of the way. Not finding a product that suited his needs, Ethan started Aaptiv. Today, Aaptiv is the top audio-based fitness app on the Apple App Store, and the fastest-growing mobile fitness product on the market.

At Aaptiv, we believe that everyone deserves personalized fitness instruction, not just the few who can afford their own personal trainer. We’re not about six-packs, thigh gaps, or so-called “beach bodies”—everybody is welcome on our beach. We help people feel the joy of moving their bodies, the satisfaction of completing a workout, the thrill of beating a personal best, and the health benefits of fitness. We embrace all paths: a morning run, a midday yoga session, an after-work gym class, or a bedtime meditation.

Our vision is simple: we want to improve the lives of millions through fitness. Our journey begins with a magical combination of scientifically effective programming, empathetic trainers, and uplifting music. As we grow, our members can count on us to deliver the most convenient, personalized, and fun way to work out—an always-there partner that guides them to their healthiest, happiest lives.”

Basically, it’s trainer-led, music driven audio workouts.  It’s like having a personal trainer standing right there with you, coaching, prompting and encouraging you through your workout.  They have thousands of workouts loaded, and add 25+ new classes each week.  You select your skill level, interests, how much time you want to devote to a workout, type of equipment you want to use – literally, there are endless options.  Right now, I am following a Cardio for Weight Loss segment that runs for four weeks.  There are four workouts per week and after you complete each one you tag it as finished, balloon emojis set out and you get a congratulations email from the trainer that led that session!  This segment includes the elliptical, stairclimber, indoor cycling, weights, rowing and the treadmill.

If you don’t work out at a gym, there are home programs.  Want to take a run or walk outside, there’s something there for you, too.  There’s stretching and Yoga sessions and the list goes on.  The best part for me is I do something different every day and the time passes quickly because I am not looking at the clock!

If you want to give a try – use this free 30-day guest pass code .  If you decide you want to join, they are always running discounts on memberships.  I believe when I joined I signed up for a year membership at 50% off.  But, you’ve got 30-days to find out for yourself.  It’s available on the App Store and Google Play.  Let me know what you think!

The Friyay Fit — Healthy Snack Jars from Clean Food Crush

I haven’t done a Friyay Fit in a while — where I share anything that makes me throw a fit.  Basically, something that motivates me.  I am back in they gym after a three-month hiatus and along with workouts come finding things that are healthy so we don’t sabotage our efforts.  I follow Clean Food Crush on Instagram and saw her post for Mason Jar Snacks 4 Ways.  Brilliant!

I could only find this recipe for Crunch and Hummus Snacktime Jars on her site and Pinterest.

Basically you chop a bunch of veggies, fill the bottom of the mason jar with hummus, then nest the veggies down inside. Put the lid on and store in the fridge.  Grab and go!

Here are some more recipes from her post…

So, there are four snacks to inspire you to prep this weekend!  Happy chopping!  Be sure to visit Rachel’s page.  There are so many beautiful and healthy recipes.  And, follow my Pinterest board “Let’s Be Healthy” for more inspiration!  Happy Friyay!

Rhoda’s Paleo Banana Pancakes

I have been following Rhoda at Southern Hospitality Blog for a while now. I got the chance to meet her at the Haven Conference last summer and it was a thrill to see her in person.  The blog posts I enjoy the most have to do with her sweet mother and daddy and the fabulous southern-style home cooked lunches they have together.  Many of her mother’s recipes are featured on Rhoda’s blog.  She posted a video recently of her cute daddy giving her followers a tour of his extensive garden — and BTW he’s 90!

One recipe Rhoda has shared is Paleo Banana Pancakes.  Something about it always intrigued me because I thought it would be a much healthier alternative to traditional pancakes.  Since I am trying to limit my carb intake I thought I would give them a try.  And, they were really yummy!

Click on the link above for the full recipe, but they are basically an egg and a mashed ripe banana mixed together and scooped onto a hot skillet (I used non-stick spray, but you could use a little butter) like you would prepare pancakes.  They do stick, so just be patient.  I served them with sliced strawberries and a drizzle of local honey.

The zero carbs and 6 grams of protein in the egg and the 27 carbs in the banana make this a healthy breakfast that will keep you satisfied through the morning.  Bananas are the highest carb fruit, but it also has alot of other benefits like fiber and potassium, and since you are eating it with a protein it helps soften the effect the carbs have on your blood sugar.

Give them a try.  I think you will really like them.  And, buzz over to Rhoda’s blog for some good Southern hospitality!

 

Tending to Your Sole

Be careful of making fun of your older parents or friends who say things like, “I just can’t wear heels anymore, my feet hurt!”  Or, “can you pick up a pack of corn pads at CVS while you’re out?”  The latter always made me a little queasy when Mother would shout this sentiment as I was clicking out the door in my 4-inch heels, or when I would find a corn pad in the carpet…

But, here I am.  52.  I’ve had surgery on both feet, twice for bunions (thanks, Daddy).  And I know I have at least two of the “7 Weird Things that Happen to your Feet when you get older” an article I found from Prevention magazine.

Fat Vanishes.  I don’t need it to vanish from my feet!  Can’t I trade it and move my abdominal, butt and hip fat to the bottoms of my feet?  Mother nature provides humans with built-in insoles, collagen and elastin cushions, stuffed with adipose tissue, on the bottoms of your feet. But in a cruel twist on the middle-age spread, collagen production decreases through the years, thinning these fat pads.  That’s why baby feet look like rudders in a boat and are so munchable.

Without this cushioning, “your feet feel fine in the morning, but toward the end of the day you have a lot of pain because you’re essentially walking on bones,” says Pedro Cosculleula, MD, a foot and ankle specialist at Houston Methodist.  Though some clinics tout injections or fat transplants, there’s no proof they work, he notes. The only surefire solution is to wear cushioned, comfortable shoes, reinforced with insoles or gel pads if needed.  Super sexy.
Toes curl up.  And I don’t mean in that sexy, between-the-sheets kind of way. Years of stuffing your piggies into high heels elevates your risk of hammertoes, permanent bends in your smaller digits. What can start as mild discomfort turns more painful over time, and unsightly corns and calluses can also crop up as your crooked toes rub against your shoes.To prevent—and ease—hammertoes, cover corns and calluses with padding and trade in your pointy-toed pumps for shoes with wider toe boxes. “I often have women stand on top of a blank piece of paper barefoot, and trace the outline of their foot,” Cosculluela says. “Then I put their shoe on top. If I can see toes sticking out, I know that’s not a good shoe for them.”
For the record…I hate the words – corns, calluses and hammertoes.On a positive note: You don’t have to ditch your stilettos completely. If you want to wear them for a night out, wear well-fitting flats made of flexible fabric like suede—even walking or running shoes, if you can—during the day. The more support you can give your feet, the less inflammation you’ll incur throughout the day—and the better you’ll be able to tolerate a dressier shoe at night.
Good news it is trendy right now to wear your yoga pants and tennis shoes to lunch and run errands.  So, you can tell people that it’s “sole”y for your health – for real — not just because you can’t fit into your pants or heels anymore.
Check back Friday for Part 2 of These Old Feet, because I am going to show you a line up of cute shoes that will keep you stylish, yet grounded, when you want to wear something other than sneakers.  But, I will also show you some fun sneaks, too!

Using Pinterest to Get You Motivated to Exercise

I have been going to the gym since the 70’s.  Of course, then it was me tagging along with mother so she could workout and I stayed in the kid’s playroom.   I have vivid memories of her wearing black tights and unitard bodysuit and going with her to the Ramada Inn.  The hotel must have offered memberships to the community to use the gym facilities.  The room I got to “play” in consisted of a glass enclosed closet so I could see all the ladies using the equipment…just like this photo of the “Sears Beauty Spa.”  I used to also watch Mother workout with Super Human Jack LaLanne.

My love affair comes and goes with exercise.  It’s like sex…you know you need to do it, but you’ve got to put on gym clothes, get in the car, drive to the gym and after about the first 10 minutes it’s a chore, but once you break a sweat you kinda like it.  After it’s over you want to go back to the gym again because you feel great!  It’s the motivation that’s missing sometimes.  For me, it’s boredom.  I get bored very easily and I like a challenge in my workouts.  When you are working out alone without a coach or accountability partner, it’s hard to push yourself.

About three years ago I met an amazing trainer named Jess.  She would chat with me while I walked on the treadmill, just being friendly and never asked me if I wanted to work out with her.  I think she was just giving me the chance to come to that conclusion on my own.  It dawned on me one day that I was barely breaking a sweat and wondering why I wasn’t achieving my fitness goals.  I thought, “why not work out with a trainer?  How can it hurt?”  We set up an appointment and what started as a business relationship grew into a true friendship.  The best part was I learned to enjoy exercising.  I reached my goals we set.  I pushed my body and found strength I never knew I had.  And I realized that, for me, working out with a personal trainer is the secret to me being consistent with an exercise and nutrition program.

I no longer workout with Jess as she moved away to start her family (we are still friends and stay in touch).  I floundered for a year and half trying to find my “mojo” again in the gym, gained my weight back and then some, and finally decided I needed to get back into a routine.  My new trainer Matt is learning how I am best motivated, that I am pretty strong and identifying ways he can push me to reach my goals.   For example, I like to compete with myself, being timed when I do a set of exercises to see if I can beat my time for the next rep.  It’s dorky, but it works for me.

I love to use Pinterest to find new workout routines.  When I find something I want to try, I will send it to my trainer and pin it to my Workout Ideas board.  Then, the next time I am in the gym Matt will have us try the workouts.  At one point Jess and I were using Pinterest to help her get motivated again after having her baby.  A few times a week I would pin ideas for her to try on her board, then she would do the same for me.  It was always fun to check my board the next morning to see what I had to choose from — We called it “Pin Three, Pick Two.”

I workout with Matt three days a week for a 30-minute session.  I run on the treadmill for 15 minutes before I meet with him, then after our session, I try to do 15 minutes of cardio to finish up — like the rowing machine, the elliptical or the bike.  Since my goal is to try and workout five days a week, the other two days I am responsible for creating my own exercise routine. If it’s a pretty day, I may go for walk, or try a new fitness class (like the other day I tried my very first Spin Class and I loved it!).

Music is a big motivator for me.  If you are trying to find a way to workout, start with a good selection of music.  You know those songs that come on the radio and you suddenly become a rock star?! Start building a playlist.  I have one for “running.”  I play these songs to help motivate me to run on the treadmill. Each song is typically 4 minutes long.  So if you play three songs you have suddenly run 12-15 minutes and you’re done!

 

 

Yesterday was a day I had to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in my gym workout.   The night before, I go through my Pinterest board and find ideas so I know when I arrive into the gym I already have a workout plan. I take my iPad into the gym, lay it out on the floor and follow each exercise until I am finished.  This was the plan — 30 exercises using a stability ball.

There are so many other ideas. Maybe you just want to focus on a certain trouble area.  Then, you might want to try this workout for working out your butt.

Or how about cardio workouts if the idea of running makes you want to hurl?

There’s even great stretching ideas, routines for legs, arms, thighs, back, and lower back strengthening.   I also have a board for Working out with Seniors.  So, basically there is something for everyone.  I have over 570 pins to choose from on my Pinterest board if you are not sure where to start. But, you must start somewhere.  You know there are infinite benefits to committing to an exercise routine.  If working out with a trainer is overwhelming or not in your budget, workout with a buddy, check out DVDs from the library, walk, pick up weights or heavy cans and lift them during commercials.  Here is a great article from the Mayo Clinic on the health benefits of walking.

Here’s the other thing.  It is not fun to think “Ugh.  I need to work out for an hour!”  So, if you are a beginner, get out a calendar and write down the dates you will commit to working out.  Maybe it’s just three days, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for 15 minutes.  That’s a start.  As you progress, increase the time. Then, increase the days to four a week.  Treat working out like an appointment.  You are more likely to commit to it if it’s on your calendar. I heard it once said, “There has never been a time I haven’t felt amazing after I finished a workout, and if I know that’s always the end result, then it makes me want to stick to my goals.”

We only get one chance at life.  Are you making it the best life possible?

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad

Since we are clearly not going to have a winter here in Texas, the weather has been so nice for evening meals on the patio.  I love the smell of meat cooking on the grill whilst sipping a good glass of wine.  I’m sharing a recipe I found on Pinterest for Grilled Lemon Herb Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  The recipe originates from Cafe Delites and if you don’t follow her blog you should.  In fact, I am sure you have already seen many of her recipes on Facebook.

The best thing about this recipe is that the marinade is also the dressing for the salad.  You prepare it, then use half for the chicken and pour the other half into a bowl or dressing bottle.

Marinade — plenty of fresh ingredients
Marinating chicken

While the chicken marinates in lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh herbs, I prepared the salad.  Instead of plating everyone’s portion separately, I decided to plate it from one big platter.

Starting with romaine lettuce, then avocados, cucumber, red onion and tomatoes.

Tip:  Always let your grilled meat sit on the counter for at least 5-10 minutes to allow the internal juices to set which keeps the chicken moist. Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the salad platter. Drizzle remaining dressing over the top.

I served it with a bottle of Pedernales GSM 2014 from Pedernales Cellars that I picked up in Fredericksburg during a wine trip I took last fall.  This Rhone-style blend incorporates Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache from their estate Hill Country vineyard and partner vineyards in Texas. Described as a “medium bodied blend brings together the diverse character of these three varieties into a fantastic balance that delivers aromas of raspberry, fennel, mushroom, and molasses. This is a rich red wine with significant oak and a soft finish.”  It really is one of my favorite wines to sip in the evening.

So if you were wondering what to make for dinner this weekend, this salad and wine along with a good crusty warm french bread would be the perfect way to start spring break!

Be sure to follow my Pinterest salad board.  I have over 150 recipes for fresh salad inspiration.

It’s Easy Being Green: How to Make Crunchy Kale Chips

Kale is King of the vegetable world!  But, the thing is you either love it or hate it.  If you pressed the “dislike” button on this topic, let’s talk about why this is quite possibly the best vegetable for you to be incorporating into your diet and I’ll share a super easy way to make Kale Chips that might just convert you to be a life member of Kale Camp.

Looking at the nifty graphic I pinned to my Pinterest Let’s Be Healthy Board you will see kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and 10 times more Vitamin C.  So, if you don’t eat beef, or consume much calcium and hate spinach then kale is your new best friend.

The seven benefits of kale are:

  • It’s a natural anti-inflammatory with both Omega 3 and 6.
  • It helps to remove toxins from the body.
  • It’s rich in Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene which counteract the damage from free radicals.
  • Contains heart health deluxe!  It is shown to lower cholesterol and increase the ratio of healthy cholesterol by 27%.
  • It’s a natural source of Folate which promotes healthy infant brain development.
  • Contains powerhouse chemicals to prevent cancer cell growth.
  • Has Lutein and Zeaxanthin shown to reduce macular generation and cataracts.
Crunchy Kale Chips

I attended a heart healthy cooking class this week and the chef showed us how to make kale chips.  I picked up a bag of kale from Trader Joe’s and got to work.

Two tips:  Most people say they don’t like kale because it’s tough and chewy.  Two things you want to do with your kale — remove the center, thick stem.  Second, if you are making a salad you can tenderize your kale by tossing it with your hands and really moving it around with a wooden spoon.  This helps to break down the toughness of the greens.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Remove the stem from your kale and break the leaves into small pieces.  The bagged variety I purchased from Trader Joe’s was already torn into pieces, but I had to do the extra step of removing the stem.

Place kale on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with course salt and pepper.  Toss so all the kale pieces are covered with oil and seasoning.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  I tossed it mid-way to help bake the chips evenly.

They were crisp and salty and down right yummy!  Mr. Bee and I munched on them while we were waiting for dinner to be ready.  I only used half the bag of kale and it easily made a cereal bowl full of chips.  I think if you made a few batches of this early in the week and stored them in an airtight container you could have a healthy snack for work or between meals.  Since they are crunchy it might fulfill that need to have chips with a sandwich which would save you easily 200 calories, 10 grams of fat and 15 carbs from eat potato chips.  One cup of kale is only 34 calories and six carbs!

Since March has a green theme with St. Patrick’s Day, here are some links to tasty green food recipes:

I know it’s not easy being green, but if Kermit the Frog can rock it — so can you!

I have more than 100 inspiring tips on health and wellness on my Pinterest board here. Be sure to follow the buzz.

A Heart to Heart Talk

My beautiful Mother, Earnie

February is heart month designated by the American Heart Association  in an effort to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease and stroke in women.  Their mission is to promote healthier living, free of cardiovascular disease.  That single purpose drives all they do.

My parents, and grandparents, had cardiovascular disease including stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attack.  My biggest shock came when my mother suffered a stroke in 2007.  Her best friend, Margaret, called Sister Bee and told her Mother “didn’t seem right” and wasn’t making sense on the phone.  I stopped by on the way to work and took one look at her and knew she was suffering from a stroke. The entire side of her face was drooping and she had a blank look on her face.  Still able to function we rushed her to the hospital where she stayed for about week. Fortunately, Mother was able to regain her abilities, but some damage was irreversible.  She lost her ability to write clearly –oh, she had beautiful penmanship and loved to send letters and cards to friends, she became easily fatigued, swallowing food was a challenge sometimes, she found it difficult to find the right words when putting a sentence together — something referred to as “word salad” and could no longer drive her car safely.   It was a huge adjustment for her but she did it with a smile and positive attitude!  Thankfully, our family made the adjustments needed and that’s when my parents came to live with us.

What I remember most about that day in the ER with Mother was this:  As they were assessing Mother’s blood pressure, I couldn’t believe the result.  The nurse and I looked at each other, then looked over at Mother.  The nurse asked her “do you have hypertension?”  I expected Mother to reply no, but she told the nurse she indeed had been diagnosed with hypertension several years prior and was taking medication for it.  I had to pick up my chin off the floor.  How had I missed this?  Why did she not tell me this? Come to find out, this was partly true.  The nurse called her physician to confirm the hypertension, then followed up with the pharmacy only to find that Mother had not filled her prescription in over a year!  When the nurse reported this back to Mother, her only response was she felt fine and didn’t think the medication was necessary.

Heart disease and stroke are the world’s two leading killers, and more than one in three U.S. women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. But studies show 80 percent of cardiac events and strokes are preventable.

High blood pressure affects one out of three adults over the age of 20. There is a reason it is referred to as “the silent killer”  because most of the time there are no symptoms. A lot of times it’s considered a man’s disease so women don’t think they can be affected.  Mother never liked to take medicine even after she came to live with me.  In the beginning, when I’d hand her medication to her, I’d watch her try to put it into her tissue.  I was always very respectful, but would point out she needed to take it.  Reluctantly, she would.  Another factor that caused her non-compliance was that she devoted all her time and strength to looking after Daddy and didn’t give herself the same attention.  Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. An excellent resource from the Mayo Clinic  provides tips for caregivers.

More women die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer. It’s not rocket science, but why do we try to make it more complicated?  Our prescription is not complex — eat smart and exercise.  There are some factors that are unpreventable, but we can all agree that diet and exercise are two things we do have control over.

Life’s Simple 7 — Designed by the American Heart Association this simple, seven step list has been developed to deliver on the hope we all have–to live a long, productive healthy life.  My score was 8.6 out of 10.  I am working on losing some weight to lower my BMI which affected my score and I need to increase my fruit and vegetable intake.  The interesting thing about this assessment is you really need to know your “numbers” like your blood pressure, your fasting blood sugar and cholesterol.  If it has been a while since you have seen your physician and had labwork, do yourself a favor and give yourself this gift.  As a healthcare professional, I am a huge advocate of an annual physical examination from a family practice physician or internist AND an annual gynecological appointment.  Of course it can be argued that your family physician can do your GYN exam, but I feel that women’s needs are best met, especially peri and post-menopausal, by a GYN.  Just my opinion, but so far it has served me well. We only get one pass in this world and you might as well make it the best you can.  We make appointments for our loved ones — children, spouses and parents, yet why are we always at the bottom of the “to do” list?

I’ll be back another day with some more good information.  For now, just soak this in and ask yourself “am I giving this life my best chance possible?”  Please share this with a friend on Facebook or via email.  It might just save their life.