Your heart is the epicenter of your being. It beats approximately 100,000 times a day and in your lifetime it will beat up to 2.5 billion times on average. Whoa. But how much care do you provide your heart with? Before we drown in the single-sorrows or feed our faces with chocolates and ice cream, let's realize that we hold the key to our own happiness. Forget whether you have a date Saturday night with your friends or significant other…do you have a date with your heart??
They call it cardio for a reason! So mark your calendars for a sweat sesh for you and your top lifeline. I’m thinking this might be a great opportunity for you to try something new, sign up for that class you’ve been thinking about or simply hop on a bike in your favorite spin class. Do something where your heart beats fast and fills you to the brim with joy. Make Vday YOUR day…whether that comes across as selfish or not…it’s ok! You owe your heart some love before you can share it with anyone else. (Sorry if I just sounded like your therapist :)
So what heart-beater will you choose? An interval run? A dance-in-your-seat cycling class? A killer Cross Fit workout? An Orangetheory class? (that’s a perfect fit right there!) Whatever it is, strap on a heart rate monitor if you have one, and if you don’t - get one! Seeing your BPM (beats per minute) is a sure sign you’re working, your chamber is pumping and your endorphins are in store for a boost.
Trapped inside or too lazy for a workout? There are other heart-happy recipes in store for you. And yes, the keyword is recipe because we're talking about food! Do you feed your body with heart-healthy choices? You may not even know what foods aid your little cardiovascular chamber, so let me expand your knowledge. Stick to whole foods and stock up on your favorite blood vessel-protecting fresh produce at the supermarket. You can also find an abundance of heart-healthy eats in your phytonutrient category, which includes nuts, fish, whole grains and beans.
Some of my heart-healthy favorites:
almonds & walnuts - omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, mono and polyunsaturated fats
blueberries - Beta-carotene and lutein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium
oranges - Beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids), vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber
red wine - one glass every so often can keep cholesterol levels low
tofu- Filled with folate, niacin, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
spinach - Packs B-complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, folate, calcium and fiber
sweet potato - Beta-carotene, fiber and my favorite NYC subway lines- vitamins A, C, E
dark chocolate - have your cocoa and eat it too! 70% cacao or more keeps blood pressure down
*Omega 3 fatty acids - boost the immune system, reduce blood clots and keep your arteries clear
*Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium - help lower blood pressure
*Fiber - helps keep cholesterol levels down; keeps you fuller longer
*Beta-carotene/carotenoids - heart-protective antioxidants
The bottom line here is focus on that beat inside your body. Follow it through your veins and remember to take that time to yourself to listen to it and feel it pounding out of your chest. So, whether in a relationship or unattached, say farewell to future heartbreak this Saturday. A nice balance of exercise and nutrition is the best gift you can give to yourself and your heart this Valentine's Day. And if you can get your partner on board for some self-love as well, may your heart grow fuller and stronger for all the years and Hallmark holidays to come!