February is Heart Health Month – here’s our personal story!

Along with celebrating Valentine’s Day, February is also designated Heart Health month.  It’s a great way to love your heart and make positive changes to improve its health.  Never forget that heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women.

This topic holds my interest on various levels.  You see, my husband has heart disease, it runs in his family, both his parents died from the disease.  His Father passed away at the young age of 68, and his mother lived till she was 94!  Over the years, I’ve made changes to our lifestyle to help stay on the right path.  A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to combat cardiovascular disease.  I’m not advocating our lifestyle, nor am I in the health profession, but today I just wanted to touch on different ways of maintaining a healthy heart and how Bert and I do it (for the most part).

We usually start out most mornings with a healthy breakfast.   We both happen to like oatmeal with raisins and almonds, followed by some fruit and a mug of hot tea.  Sometimes it can get a little mundane, so that’s when a nice English fry-up pops up 🙂 It’s hard to keep count of Bert’s tea intake, it must be the English in him, but I’ve had him cut back quite a bit.  The images below are just some examples of weeknight meals that we try to incorporate into our diets.  We don’t always stay on track, but for the most part I’d say we try to eat healthy.  I should mention here that wine is always on the menu too 🙂

We try to eat a variety of nutritious meals from all the food groups.  We limit our salt intake too to try to keep the blood pressure readings on target.  Above, we have Grilled salmon with Asian flavors.  Quinoa with roasted vegetables and a salad with zero dressing.  We usually end each meal with a bowl of fresh fruit; my home made yogurt and home made granola drizzled with honey.  This generally satisfies my sweet tooth.  Oranges, grapes and blueberries were the choice of fruit here.  They say it’s better to have a colorful plate as you know you will  be incorporating fruit and vegetables in your diet.  I think I passed the first color test above, don’t you?

Another example of a weeknight menu above blending fresh fruit and vegetables in the mix.  Spicy grilled chicken, oven roasted potatoes (Bert loves his potatoes every which way).  Fresh greens, avocado, radish and grape tomatoes for a salad.  For dessert, we had raspberries, grapes, oranges and kiwi fruit with yogurt, cinnamon and honey.  Another way of satisfying my sweet tooth is making truffles with dried fruit and nuts mixed with peanut butter, and a spoon of coconut oil to bind together.  Make into balls and refrigerate.  Do I crave brownies, cookies and chocolate cake? You bet I do, but I save those times for when we entertain or the girls come home.  Bert does not have a sweet tooth, so he is okay with no dessert.

We try to include fish and vegetarian meals in our diets at least twice a week.  Above we have spicy grilled whole trout, stir-fry carrots and baby bok-choy.  Served with a green salad and chopped fresh fruit salad with yogurt that completed the meal.  We both love curries too, so I make vegetarian meals with different pulses and fresh vegetables and roti.  Bert loves his meat, so I will make beef or lamb stew at times together with many types of chicken and turkey dishes.  If it were up to me, I’d be quite content being pescatarian (a fish and veggie diet).

It would be remiss of me not to mention how important it is to exercise for a healthy heart.  Bert and I have always enjoyed walking and ever since we downsized from the suburbs, we got rid of one of the cars and walk  just about everywhere.  We walk to the library, to restaurants and bars, to church, to the dentist, optician, doctors, grocery stores, drug store etc.  We enjoy hikes too, there’s a few trails around us where we can walk to.  So essentially we walk to exercise, but we also walk to get from point A to point B.  We share a car now, and really don’t miss having 2 cars in the driveway now that we are both retired.

Exercise classes form an integral part of our heart healthy routine.  I had found a wonderful exercise program for a 55+ older crowd.  The instructor is just amazing.  There’s yoga, zumba, weights, balance and stretching.  When Bert retired last summer, I asked him if he’d like to join the program, (you see he’s not a joiner). I encouraged him to try it out, and the rest is history!  He’s the only male in the class, all the women just love him.  It’s about a 20-25 minute walk to the classes, so we get an extra workout before we start the class.  About 2 weeks ago we held a luncheon at our home for our exercise crew, we love a party and I love to cook.   I served Mexican pulled pork on slider buns, roasted veggies with Israeli couscous, also Shaved Brussels sprouts/ broccoli coleslaw with a pomegranate dressing.  I asked the ladies to bring in dessert and wine 🙂 It was so much fun!  Exercise should definitely be embraced and so important as one gets older.  Here’s our crew of women!  Where’s Bert? img_8940

Pamper your hearts my friends ❤ ❤ ❤

27 comments

  1. It was wonderful to take a peek into your healthy, active lifestyle, Loretta! We are on the same healthy path here. It’s so important as we age! You live in the perfect location for walking. We still rely on our cars, but plan walking workouts. I just love Zumba, too! 🙂 What a great idea to celebrate a healthy lifestyle with your exercise crew… with Bert as the center of attention! ♡

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    1. It’s great to hear that Dawn. A healthy diet and workout is definitely key to pampering your heart. Ha ha, Bert loved the attention, we’re definitely committed to the group and look forward to the fun and torture at the same time 🙂

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  2. A wonderful post Loretta and you beautiful food photos show that it isn’t a punishment to eat healthy. It’s great that Bert has joined your class of that fine looking group. John is a gym rat and I can’t keep up with him but he’ll tone it down and go for walks and bike rides with me.

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    1. Thanks Julie. Yes, Bert is so committed now, sometimes it is me who slacks off as we try to walk when we can to the center, and I come up with excuses on a cold day 🙂 Good for John, so many people work out, it’s great to see and it sure is good that he accompanies you on walks and bike rides. I think this is about Bert’s level, a lot of those ladies can lift real heavy weights, but we are wimps!

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  3. I simply loved this post of yours Loretta! A great reminder for the younger crowd too since there is a spike in the number of the people dying in their early 40s because of heart attack and sometimes no valid history.
    I have vowed to become healthier this year and given myself 1 year till 2018 where I want to see a better me and healthier me…
    I have started sprouting the pulses and make a huge batch of tomato and other veggies soup, stocked always in the refrigerator for those snack moments when I grab for junk..
    I try to walk everyday for good amount.
    Want to have a good heart as I age from 40 to 60.. my husband also joins me in this “better me” campaign…

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    1. Great to hear that Sonal, yours and your husband’s commitment for a better you. It’s great that you are sprouting pulses too. We can all get pretty complacent with our diets and exercise, but being aware of it and getting back on track is key. My greatest temptation is the sweet stuff. Even though I don’t keep it around the house, I’m so tempted when I see it elsewhere and gorge on it like there’s no tomorrow 🙂 Let’s all try to lead better, healthier lifestyles!

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  4. Such an inspiring post Loretta. Lately, I have been so busy that my diet has been lacking in fresh fruit and veggies. I haven’t been taking the time to buy and prepare healthy meals like I usually do – it does require some thought and work of course. I must get back on track as I do feel sluggish and I know the diet is a big part of it. I do manage to exercise though! As we age BP and heart disease are a concern… I love your picture with the heart and all of the fruit and veggies inside of it 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much Judi. We can all get sluggish at times, I know I go through that a lot. Cooking fresh and from scratch is quite an undertaking. I do try real hard to cook fresh every single day, if not every other day. I usually double up on chilis, stews, soups, curries etc and freeze and portion them out for a later date. You always seem to produce healthy meals, I’m sure your heart will thank you for it. I have to watch my BP too, this is where exercise plays a key role in keeping it all in check. I wanted to dedicate this month to the heart, but not huge fans of V-Day!

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  5. Who would say healthy meals don’t look or taste good. Thanks for all the inspiring ideas Loretta. Will try to incorporate them in our meals too. Take care and all the best to good health!

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