Take Care of Your Heart

January 18, 2010 by Rose Cook

Friday, February 5, 2010 is National Wear Red Day, sponsored by the American Heart Association and their “Go Red for Women” movement.  Join me in wearing red to raise awareness about the #1 killer of American women: cardiovascular disease (or heart disease).  Did you know that it’s the cause of one in every three female deaths?

Did you also know that while there are some uncontrollable factors, heart disease is largely preventable?  Yes, preventable!  Our risks are very much tied to the lifestyle choices we make each and every day.
So you may be thinking… why is Rose discussing heart disease in a “Flex for Success” newsletter?
Well, first of all, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart (ha ha – no pun intended).  Those of you who know me have heard my personal story several times.  Here goes…
It’s December 2007 (working late, as usual!) and I’ve got a pounding dizzying headache that I just can’t shake.  Overweight and stressed out, it turns out my blood pressure was dangerously high.  After a visit to my doctor, who said I needed to take blood pressure meds so I wouldn’t have a heart attack or stroke (ouch!), I was determined to make some lifestyle changes.
The obvious lifestyle changes for most of us, are:
–  Get to your ideal weight
–  Exercise more regularly
–  Eat healthier foods
However, the other lifestyle change (that we don’t always think about) is reducing stress.  And, … introducing more flexibility into your work/life schedule can help reduce your level of stress!  How many of you find your hearts pounding as you’re rushing to pick up your daughter at day care? Or feel your blood pressure rising as you’re hurrying to get a quick dinner (takeout, perhaps?) on your way to your son’s basketball practice?
Imagine what one day of telecommuting might do to add a little sanity to your busy life.  Or, would an earlier or later start time help you avoid rush hour traffic and cut down your commute time?  Would that little bit of extra time allow you to make a salad instead of hitting the drive-thru?  Give it some serious thought because heart disease is a very serious topic!  Your heart will thank you for negotiating that flexible work arrangement (and so will your family!)
So, over two years after that dizzying headache, my personal journey has taken me to a happy, healthy place.  Working hard to stay here.  The short version of my story:  blood pressure normal (no more meds – yippee!), back to my ideal weight, eat better, exercise almost every day, and… practice what I preach about flexibility.  You’ll see me at the gym at 9:30am on some mornings, but you may also get an email from me at midnight.  Works for me, and it’s my way of reducing stress.
How about you?  What kind of lifestyle changes will you make to get “heart healthy”?  Need some guidance?  Go to the American Heart Associationwebsite or join the “Go Red for Women” movement.
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