Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Improve Your Heart Health

February is all about heart health and heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans. No bueno.
Since I feel like one of the benefits of blogging is to share health information and make readers healthier, I'm going to step on my soapbox to dish out some info on heart health. 

Here are 6 simple (yes, simple) things you can do to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Share these with a friend, family member, co-worker and let's all fight heart disease!

  • Stop Smoking
    •  Why are you still smoking?  Stop!  Particularly for your heart smoking is a “gradual killer” in that it causes plaque to build up in your arteries, which narrows your arteries making it harder for blood to flow through them.  No blood flow?  The heart is not a fan.
  •  Keep a normal BMI
    • This is a simple one that can reduce your risk of SO many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and about 50% of cancers.  So many times we categorize the need to lose weight as something "cosmetic". It's not. If your BMI is classified as obese or higher please seek out a professional (aka Registered Dietitian) to take a look at your diet and recommend some changes.  I do offer online counseling and I'd be happy to assist.
  • Exercise at least 2.5 hours per week
    • Sound crazy? Most of us spend that much time in the shower a week.
    • That’s 30 minutes, 5 times a week or 20-minutes roughly 6 ½ times a week.  This is moderate activity outside of what you do at work or in your daily life.  Make a date with a friend for a walk or group exercise class.  Just get that blood moving. It makes your heart happy.
  • Keep a “healthy” diet
    • What does that mean? Confirm to the “recommended” eating pattern.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy.  Not skipping meals and fast food 5 times a week. Remember we should be exercising 5 times a week, not hitting the drive thru 5 times a week.
  • Watch less TV
    •  I cringe writing this, because I admittedly watch a lot of TV. It’s not only the screen time, but the time sitting.  New studies are showing that sitting is just as dangerous as #1, smoking, and that even when you exercise you can’t outdo the damage of sitting.  
    • “Too much” TV is typically over 7 hours a week. Gulp.
  • Drink alcohol
    • Yes, I didn’t try to confuse you.  You “can” drink alcohol ,but in moderation. Several studies have shown that women who drink in MODERATION have a better chance of aging healthy than those who don’t.  Moderate drinking has the capability to lower inflammation, improve insulin resistance, and help your blood vessels work properly.  But don’t over-do.  Alcohol means extra calories (see #2).
    • Ps – moderation for women means 1 drink a day and 2 for men.  (And zero for team #BabyB)

These are all relatively “simple” steps that can go a long way to not just improving your heart health, but your overall wellness. But don’t wait!  Don’t put off getting in shape until your doctor tells you, the scale tells you, it’s bikini season, or time for a reunion.  Take these small steps now and every day for a healthy LIFE!

Have you had your cholesterol numbers checked?
What are you doing TODAY to help your heart?

Love and lub dub,
Carissa & Kyle

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Pregnant Life Eats

What does the pregnant lady eat?

I guess that depends on the month of the pregnancy and my energy level that day.  If I had written this post back in week 8 then you'd likely have seen pretzels, OJ, pasta, and very little vegetables.  Now that I'm in the second trimester I have been really trying to use my energy to meal prep, workout, and focus on consuming nutrients and not just junk.  Sure, there is junk and more sweets than usual and I have no good rationalization for that.  Except that what Baby B "wants", Baby B gets.

I haven't done a WIAW post since this summer when I was in New York City, so here's a look at a random weekday of eats.

Green Juice
I've been trying to start my morning with a green juice that I make at home.  It's comforting to know that I've crammed a lot of nutrients in before my cup o' joe.  In today's mix is organic spinach, 1/4 cucumber, 2 small gala apples, 1 lemon, and 1/4 cup parsley.  I add water and a splash of orange juice and blend in my Vitamix.

After the juice gets consumed, the floors cleaned, and the cats fed, I sit down for my breakfast.  Today I forced myself out of my "English Muffin with peanut butter" routine and had Quaker's Weight Control oatmeal made with almond milk, fresh blueberries, and Lindwood's pumpkin seed and sunflower seed mix.  Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are SO nutritious and good for you.  I challenge you to find ways to add them into your day.  They're a great source of iron, zinc, and Vitamin E.

Pretty ugly, but he did the trick pre-cardio.

Chex Mix
So this one time I went to the store after the gym.  And I saw Chex Mix on BOGO, so I "had" to buy it.  Then I realized I was hungry and I "had" to open it before even attempting to drive home.  Had to.  That's real life. Not my proudest moment.

Lunch - Leftovers
Lunch came together quickly thanks to leftover PF Chang's chicken and broccoli from Super Bowl Sunday.  I added a few crunchy noodles for pizzazz.


One of the perks of being pregnant is the frequent snacking.  This afternoon since I didn't have my usual peanut butter for breakfast, I added PB to Stacy's pretzel crisps and some cherries.


I love to say I'm going to try to make more vegetarian meals.  Then I succeed with about 1 every month.  Tonight I was trying out a new stuffed mushroom recipe to take to my friends house on Valentine's night, so I made a larger portabello version for dinner. It was a success!  To my normal mix I added some olive bruschetta topping and shredded Cabot Alpine cheddar.  I'm just sad that I didn't make enough for lunch tomorrow.  On the side we had an organic spinach salad with a Roma tomato and asparagus in a yogurt Caesar dressing.

4th Meal
Sometimes after dinner I get what I call "legitimately" hungry.  I made a sad face at Kyle and he went to the kitchen and poured me a bowl of Special K with red berries, fresh blueberries, and almond milk.  What a gem!

Also just a heads up that I'm be making an appearance on The Daily Buzz tomorrow (2/5/15) morning with a 3 day green challenge.  Tune in if you can!

What was the best thing you ate today?
Any good vegetarian dinners to recommend?

Love and 22 weeks,
Carissa & Kyle

Monday, February 2, 2015

At Home Workout

Somedays getting to the gym just doesn't happen.  It's okay.  On days like that, and more and more frequently since Baby B has been growing, I've been working out at home.  I take the "something is better than nothing" approach.

I know that sometimes a workout done at home isn't as focused or productive then one in the gym, but it still elevates my heart rate and gives each muscle group some focus.  Somehow watching reruns of Grey's Anatomy doesn't inspire the same effort level as Kyle coaching me through a workout...go figure.

If you ever find yourself at the end of the day and needing a quick, at home lift then check out this "Living Room Lift". All you will need is 1 set of moderately heavy dumbbells.  I use 8 pounds, because that's all we have at the house, but anywhere from 5 pounds to 15 pounds depending on your fitness level should do the trick.

Comment or tweet me if you have any questions about the exercises.
Two important points to remember:

  • Move quickly between exercises to keep your heart rate up.
  • If you find the weight isn't challenging, focus on form.  Slow down your movement.
Good luck and good lifting!

What's your favorite at home workout?
How often do you lift at home?

Love and baby B approved,
Carissa & Kyle