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It’s hard to believe it but we are already mid February. I don’t know about you BUT I am ready to say goodbye to winter. This winter seems to be extra cold and snowy. However, I do have to say February is one of my favorite months. During February I get to celebrate my Birthday, my Father’s Birthday, my Husband’s Birthday, Valentines Day, My GodMother’s Birthday, as well as my Uncle’s Birthday! LOTS of Birthdays =) February is also American Heart Month =) That’s right time to check in and see how healthy that ticker is!

I am honored to join forces with the American Recall Center in honor of American Heart Month for this blog post as my family is no stranger to heart disease. My very best friend, sidekick, and BEST Grandpa in the entire world (yep truth Bomb) died from complications of this terrible disease. First off for those who don’t know let me tell you a bit about my grandpa (I could go on for seriously hours….days….best guy ever, so I will keep it short and sweet).

My grandpa and I were best friends, we did everything together. My grandpa supported me in everything I did, and also was always there to lend a helping hand. He NEVER missed an important event in my life.

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Grandpa surprising me at my College’s Homecoming Parade. I was on court =) As you can tell me was pretty excited to surprise me, maybe even a bit teary!

Grandpa at my College Graduation.  I don't think that smile left his face the whole day =)

Grandpa at my College Graduation. I don’t think that smile left his face the whole day =)

Grandpa and I picking out two puppies for HIM.  These puppies helped bring a smile to my grandpa's face after my grandma passed.

Grandpa and I picking out two puppies for HIM. These puppies helped bring a smile to my grandpa’s face after my grandma passed.

My grandpa (also with the help of grandma) gave me one of the best gifts ANYONE could ever give someone, my education. My grandparents were so very generous helping me through college AND graduate school. Some of my favorite memories with my grandpa include walking to the park to feed the birds. Spending Saturday’s together where he would drive out to my parents house and spend the day, usually it involved some gardening and grilling out. My freshman year of college, when grandpa helped me move into the residence hall. My mom and I went to check in and get my room assignment. We received my room number and the keys to the room, Mom and I went to the bathroom. When we came back from the bathroom ALL my stuff had already been moved into my room (it was on the 4th floor), let’s just say grandpa gave the football team a few $$ and got the job done.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my grandpa I wonder what he would think of my transformation. I also envision him at the finish line of all my running events, being there with the BEST sign and the BIGGEST smile. Funny thing is, I always think of my grandparents and birds…not sure why I put these two things together BUT always have. During my longest most difficult runs, usually when I find myself doubting my abilities I ALWAYS see two birds (grandma and grandpa), these birds usually help me get over my mind hurtle, making me smile and push on.

I LOVE my grandpa with all my heart, and have to say I have been so very blessed to have such an amazing man in my life. Due to grandpa having heart disease, it’s obvious that this is something in my family history. So obviously it’s something I need to be mindful of. As I have progressed throughout my journey this has always been in the back of my mind. I know there are many tips, these tips are courtesy of the American Recall Center.

 

The two I really like to focus on are staying active and eating healthy. First staying active, it’s recommend that you do at lease 20 minutes of activity a day, I say do 30!!! Now I am not saying you have to go out and run 3 miles, but if that’s your thing by all means do it =) You need to find an activity you LIKE. It shouldn’t feel like a walk in the park BUT it shouldn’t feel like torture. There are many great activities you can participate in here are a few: walking, running, spinning class, zumba, weight lifting, yoga, kickboxing, swimming, biking… there are tons of things you can do.

The key is to find something physical you enjoy. It might take trying a few different activities before you find something you like. It also may take a few tries or classes before you get the hand of the activity and enjoy it. For example spinning class. The first time I tried spinning class I HATED…HATED it. Honestly thought that hour long class felt like 5 hours, thought to myself how could someone enjoy this!!! However, I stuck to it and tried it again and slowly started to appreciate it and the workout. NOW I LOVE spinning class and find it to be great cross training for my marathon training routine.

The other tip I think is easy and manageable involves eating healthy. I am not saying give up everything you love, NEVER eat pizza or cake again. I am saying add the color to your plate. Make sure EVERY single meal has some type of fruit or veggie incorporated into it. Breakfast, add an orange maybe a few strawberries to your usual cereal. Lunch should also have some of the good stuff, usually have yogurt? Why not add some fruit or heck pack some carrots or another veggie you wouldn’t mind. NO dinner should be consumed without some type of veggie, seriously just add some broccoli, cauliflower, or maybe some brussle sprouts. Now if you find yourself turning your nose up on these items I just listed maybe find some different ways to prepare them. Steaming them, sautéing them with some seasonings, or maybe just eating them raw. Find a way to enjoy them =)

I hope this post helps you make a few small changes in your life. Just think, these small changes are HUGE. Cardiovascular Disease claims more lives in the U.S. THAN any other illness, so please for your heart make a few changes and enjoy life. I know I enjoyed the life I got to experience with my grandpa and hope this terrible disease claims less and less lives so MORE memories can me made with our BEST FRIENDS.

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