It’s February, and if you’ve been to any store (or website) recently, you’ve seen your share of pink, red, and purple hearts. Yes, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Heart Month. So, without skipping a beat, let’s talk about living a heart-healthy lifestyle without paying an arm and a leg for a gym membership.
It Starts in the Cart
Now before you think you need to completely overhaul your kitchen, it’s important to remember that your habits add up. Think about your last trip to the grocery store. What did you throw into your shopping cart? If it didn’t include lots of fruit and veggies, national heart month is the time to reevaluate. One of the most helpful tips I’ve heard is to shop the perimeter of the store, where you’ll find the freshest and healthiest foods (think produce, lean meats, whole grains). Broccoli, tomatoes, and any brightly colored veggies are known to improve heart health. The more colors on your plate, the better. Looking for a deal? BJ’s Wholesale Club and Target offer great discounts on groceries.
And Into the Kitchen
It’s not just what you cook, but it’s also how you cook it. Of course we all love our deep-fried sides, but try baking your food for a healthier version. Love French fries, but want a heart-healthy alternative for national heart month? Try this recipe for oven baked French “fries.” Cooking at home doesn’t need to be expensive, either. Look to KitchenAid for deals on all your cooking appliances. Pick up a kitchen scale for portion control, as well as a panini press for delicious toasted sandwiches. Be sure to use plenty of herbs and spices. They add lots of flavor without all the fat and sodium. Make it a little fun and cut them out into heart shapes – a little reminder for you and your loved ones of the importance of national heart month.
On the Move
Living a heart-healthy lifestyle is more than just cooking (and should go on beyond national heart month). It’s about staying active and getting in your exercise. I’m not saying you need to be a slave to the gym or run miles before sunrise, but small lifestyle changes can make a big difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should aim for about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as a brisk walking, as well as muscle-strengthening activities.
Not sure how to fit physical activity into your already hectic schedule? Try breaking it up. Walk for ten minutes in the morning, as well as on your lunch break. Try an at-home workout video after a day at the office, or even dance in your living room! If you’re strapped for space, give Total Gym a go. Crave more motivation? Look for a workout buddy. Grab a friend and work up a sweat in a cardio kickboxing or dance class. Don’t forget to dress the part: Check out Sweaty Betty or Reebok for discounts on your workout gear.
Relax – It’s National Heart Month
Like anything in life, it’s important not to go overboard. While eating healthy and regular exercise is key, don’t forget the importance of rest and balance. Taking a day off from your workout routine will refresh both your mind and body, allowing for greater overall health benefits in the long run. Try to reduce your stress levels by relaxing with a good book or laughing with a good friend. If you’re in search of a good massage, try Lifebooker for amazing beauty and lifestyle deals.
So show your heart some love this national heart month by eating well, staying active, and getting plenty of rest. Appreciate what your body can do, and don’t forget that a little bit of dark chocolate is known to be heart-healthy.