Heart Smart

Fruits & Veggies

Fruits & Veggies

Dear Dr. Terri K: My blood pressure is high and, because I have a family history of heart disease, my doctor said I may have to go on medication. He recommended getting my stress levels under control, as well as losing about 10 pounds. I frankly don’t know where to start. I’ve never been successful with diets and I have a lot of pressures on my new job. Can you share a basic game plan? I’m only 41 and I really don’t want to go on meditation! – MARY

Mary: First, congratulations for wanting to take control of your health. The key is to start small and be consistent. Here are some basic lifestyle suggestions:

  • Find a motivating WHY – Think about why it is important for you to be healthy. What are the things you want to accomplish in your life? What makes your heart sing? Is it nurturing a healthy and happy family? Is it traveling the world with your partner? One basic tenet of Power Living® Principle #3: Honor your Body is “When there is a motivating WHY, the HOW becomes easier.” Tie your lifestyle goals to your life vision. Remember, you must have the energy to fulfill your divine destiny. Also, note that a physical condition is often a symptom of a spiritual, mental or emotional dis-ease… a disconnect with your heart. So, truly search your heart to find out what brings you joy.
  • Add more movement into your daily routine – Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times per week to improve your general health and lose weight. It may also balance production of neurotransmitters and reduce stress levels. You don’t have to go to the gym. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk after dinner instead of watching television. Put some music on a dance around as you vacuum the carpet. The key is to get the body moving.
  • “Crowd out” the high-stress foods – Instead of eliminating everything you like, begin to add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. Experiment with spices as you reduce the salt. Go for natural sweeteners, such as agave nectar, in order to reduce sugar, trans fats, and processed desserts/snacks. Make your own delicious smoothies instead. Think moderation versus deprivation. Your taste buds will actually begin to change and your body will crave the “good-for-you” foods.
  • Practice relaxation techniques – Stress has been linked to weight gain, as well as high blood pressure. One of the most important things you can do is to learn relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization. Yoga may be good because it combines physical activity with self-awareness. The combination of breathing techniques, asanas (postures), deep relaxation and meditation can help you feel calm, centered, and in control.
  • Take “Mini-Escapes” at work – Studies have shown that it is important to take a break every 90 -120 minutes for peak performance. This strategy may also help reduce stress at work. Even if you simply take a walk around the block, get up and change your environment. You can also practice deep breathing and chair yoga techniques at your desk. Use the Power Living®: Mini-Escapes relaxation CD as a support tool.
  • Make sleep sacred – Sleep is the time when the body heals and the mind assimilates the learning from the day. Lack of sleep can affect your stress levels, as well as sabotage your attempt to lose weight. Although there is no one formula for how much sleep is enough, most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. You should wake up refreshed in the morning without the use of an alarm clock and feel energetic all day.

    Honor your body. Today, take control of your health. Use the power of choice to change your lifestyle. You can make it happen. Start Power Living® today!

    - T

    Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.

    Check out additional articles and tips on Healthy Living and Work & Life.

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