Heart Healthy Meals for Valentine’s Day

Every February 14th you push your heart into overdrive. Why not change it up this year and show your heart some much needed love and devotion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death not only in the United States, but also the world (http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm). Roughly 600,000 people die from heart disease in the US annually and over 700,000 Americans experience heart attacks. Both medical conditions and lifestyle choices put our hearts at risk of failure. These include diabetes, high cholesterol, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity.

When we’re young, we think our bodies can handle anything we throw at them. In truth, the late night pizza orders, deep-fried chicken dinners on Sunday, and a diet of hot dogs and Mac-and-Cheese clog our arteries at any age. You can take steps to prevent further damage by making healthier food choices, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising frequently, and of course, quitting smoking.

Today, let’s focus on making healthier food choices. This day’s worth of heart healthy meal suggestions is sure to fill you up and keep your ticker ticking smoothly.

 

Breakfast

Start your day with a generous portion of oatmeal, preferably not the instant kind. Top it off with some almonds and berries, and you have yourself a whole lot of heart-y goodness. Don’t forget the coffee or green tea! Both aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease in their own ways.

  • Oatmeal acts like a sponge and soaks up cholesterol lurking in your digestive track before it has a chance to seep into the bloodstream.
  • Blueberries and strawberries contain anthocyanins, which may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of a heart attack.
  • Almonds (or walnuts) contain fiber and vitamin E, and help lower cholesterol.

RHSTBreakfast

Lunch

Your second meal of the day is a filling spinach salad topped with baby tomatoes, strawberries (or pomegranates if you had strawberries for breakfast), nuts, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a 4oz. of chicken breast for an additional shot of protein.

  • Spinach contains carotenoids, which aid in ridding your body of harmful toxins. It is also high in fiber meaning it keeps you fuller longer.
  • Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may help lower your bad cholesterol levels.
  • Pomegranates help prevent your arteries from hardening thus allowing blood to flow more freely to the heart.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a tasty, healthy addition to any meal because it is a source of good fats known to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

RHSTLunch

Dinner

Aim to keep dinner clean yet satisfying. On the menu for tonight is salmon with steamed green beans and broccoli. When trying to eat healthy, stay as far away from boredom as possible by experimenting with various herbs to keep your meals clean, fresh, and unique.

  • Salmon has high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to lower your triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. It also reduces your risk of irregular heartbeats and plaque build up in the arteries. Experts suggest eating salmon or other types of fish rich in omega-3s at least twice a week.
  • Green beans and other legumes help control blood sugar, which is essential for those suffering from diabetes. Additionally, legumes provide excellent amounts of protein without all the fat.
  • Broccoli, like spinach, acts as an antioxidant ridding your body of harmful compounds.

RHSTDinner

 

Snacks

If you’re hungry in between meals, choose citrus fruits or soy (think edamame) to tide you over until the next meal.

  • Oranges, and other citrus fruits, contain flavonoids, plant based compounds known to reduce inflammation and aid in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
  • Soy contains high levels of good fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is linked to the reduction of blood pressure and the decrease of LDL (or bad) cholesterol.

 

Dessert

Looking for a little something sweet? Feel free in indulge in dark chocolate, which can reduce the chances of fatal heart attacks and strokes.

 

Supplements

Sometimes we need a little extra help staying on track. These two supplements can be added to your daily routine for an additional dose of heart healthy benefits.

  • CoQ10 is a coenzyme that energizes the mitochondria in cells. The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell where all of its energy is made. Since the heart is a muscle, CoQ10 will help the mitochondria in heart cells produce energy. It may even improve your survival rate after even the most severe case of heart failure.
  • Krill oil provides omega-3 fats in a form that our bodies can absorb known as phospholipids. This enables the fats to enter the blood quicker than it would when digested in other forms. If you’re not eating enough omega-3 fats, krill oil is a fabulous way to obtain what you’re lacking. After all, omega-3 deficiency is a major factor in cardio vascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

 

This day’s worth of heart healthy meals is just something I developed on my own (and with the help of a friend who knows her supplements!). Do your research and make smarter choices.

Your heart, and the one who has stolen it, will thank you!

 

Want more information? Take a look at the articles used in this research.

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20720182_7,00.html

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/flavonoids

http://www.healthline.com/health/top-10-deadliest-diseases

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/10/krill-oil-supplementation.aspx

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2014/4/coq10-proven-benefits-in-heart-failure-patients/page-01

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How do you succeed in reaching your fitness goals?

Fitness was the one thing I could control growing up, and to date, it’s the only relationship I find I can commit to.  I do it all – the running, the salads, the early morning wake-up calls – because my body is the single constant feature that makes me proud to be who I am.  I do it for me, all for me – every single selfish morsel – because I can.  I am in charge of my body: the choices I make, how I feel, and what I accomplish.

My gymnastics coaches trained us by using a very military-style regime.  We feared their wrath if we were late for practice.  We loathed the extra hour tacked on to summer practices because it meant pure conditioning (think grueling cardio and strength training).  We knew that when they threatened to start the counting over because someone gave up too soon on ab exercises, they truly meant it. How do you think I had eight pack abs at 11 years old?  “80-81-82- Oh, Tanya dropped her legs to the ground. 1-2-3…”

This hardcore relationship dominated my formative years.  When it comes to my own views on training twenty years later, I’m still in the same mindset.  It’s all I know. I’m numb to the reality that some people just don’t succeed with tough love.  I’m sure less than ninety-nine percent of people who set goals never grew up with a “Sergeant Cyndi” figure head pushing them hard to succeed.

I’ve become my coach.  This take no prisoners mindset works well for me and my accomplishments, but it may not work for you.

Thanks to a beautiful friend who made me realize my narrow views on the pursuit of healthy living may be taken as harsh or judgmental (though I swear I don’t judge), I decided to reach out to you all for your stories.

I’m looking for inspirational people to feature on the blog!  Did you set a health/fitness goal?  How did you reach it?

If you want to share your story, email me for more details at Kristin.RHandST@gmail.com.

Let’s get this motivation going.  What worked for you may work for someone else.  And really, isn’t that what this is all about?

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Bringing Sexy (Thighs) Back!

Well, HELLO!

It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I know. I’m sorry. I was focusing on too many other things and this blog was the farthest thing on my mind. But I have some good news: I’m back with a renewed zest for writing about health and wellness.

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Before I start blogging about anything of substance, I figured I should give you all an update on me. What have I been up to for the last year?

 

Running/Fitness Related

The last time you heard from me I was training for a marathon. Then I went off the grid. I ended up needing that training plan in order to succeed, so for 18 weeks I followed the Hal Higdon training method. It kicked my ass and I wanted my Saturday’s back, but on October 25, 2015, I PRed at the Marine Corps Marathon. Actually training was well worth it.   The painful early Saturday mornings (I’m talking 4am runs) were the death of me. I felt like such a grandma taking naps all weekend long, but I stuck with it. The next time I decide to run 26.2 miles, I’ll push myself harder and maybe find some other crazy running buddies in the area.

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I also started getting sucked into the Beachbody craze by my awesome friend and coach, Lindsay Benson. I have a support system of incredible women (and guys) who share a desire to best version of themselves. These selves happen to thrive on sticking to fitness routines and eating well. Never miss a Monday, right?!

Running and Beachbody are two of the five goals I’ve made for the New Year. You can check them out here if you’re interested.

 

Writing Related

I began another blog last year, which takes up a lot of my concentration. Unfortunately, I don’t write in it as often as I’d like. The content is very personal and I take pride with my words. Content is key on that site and I don’t always have the brainpower to focus on writing something mentally draining. I spend eight hours a day n front of a computer as it is. When I open the door to my house after work, I often times don’t have the energy to try to write something deep. Most nights, my brain needs time off, which interprets to the couch and television.

When I do manage to shake up my creative juices, I let people into my world more than I otherwise would. For example, if you’re curious why fitness and athletics mean so much to me, you should check out this article. It answers why I feel the need to work harder to be stronger.

RH+ST allows me to write without stressing over every teensy detail. It’s about writing to write, while hopefully helping others find a connection to running and staying active along the way.

 

Personal Related

Wait a minute. This blog is anything but personal. It’s a chance for me to write about something I love and to inspire others to be active. If you want to get to know me on a personal level, you’ll need to follow Diary of a Beautiful Disaster.

 

I’m so excited to resurrect Running Highs + Sexy Thighs. Thanks for hanging on during the hiatus. I think you’ll agree this break was for the best…but it’s time to start fresh.

I’m bringing sexy (thighs) back!

-Kristin

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Marathon Training…Goin’ Rougue

The official training plan has ceased. I was finding my runs to be frustrating and stagnant despite six weeks in to the plan. I’m used to running more miles per week and this training schedule was setting me back. I focused on mileage rather than pushing myself to be a better runner. 

And so, friends, my training plans have ceased. I’m running to run just as I always have. I may add in some of those longer distances according to the plan, but I’m back to being my own guide. 

Good luck on your summer running!

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Marathon Training: Week 6, Day 3

Miles: 2 (should have been 3)

Average Pace: unsure, I walked a bit

Feeling: not in the mood to run

Comments: it was one of those morning that my legs just didn’t want to cooperate. I stopped schlepping along at some point and added some walking to the mix (on an incline). And then I called it quits. My feet hurt, which means it’s probably time for some new shoes. I’m going to switch back to the Nike Pegasus (currently using the Brooks Ravenna). Hopefully I’ll make up the missing mile tomorrow. 

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Marathon Training: Week 6, Day 2

Miles: 2

Average Pace: 10:54m/m

Feeling:

Comments: added some speed drills

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Marathon Training: Week 6, Day 1

Rest Day 

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